How to become a solicitor


What to know about getting qualified

Possibly the most common and known career path for law degree graduates is to become a practising solicitor. Despite it being a popular field, there’s no shortage of demand for solicitors in the UK, so it remains a respected and sought-after position. 

In partnership with The University of Law, we’ve put together a guide to help clarify the process of how to become a solicitor and what it’s like as a career.

Solicitors and barristers

Both solicitors and barristers offer legal advice and can represent clients in court but a major difference is that barristers are far more likely to perform advocacy work and represent clients in higher courts and solicitors are more likely to deal with every day and smaller legal issues. 

You can find out more about how to become a barrister here.

What’s it like to be a solicitor?

Being a solicitor can be every bit as rewarding as it is challenging at times, with a wide array of areas of law that you can opt to specialise in - from family law to environmental law and more. To this degree, you can pursue a career as a solicitor that fits in with your own passion and the area you’re most interested in.

Solicitors are there to represent their client’s legal interests, defend those interests and provide legal advice in a range of situations. You’ll also be tasked with helping businesses during larger commercial transactions as well as overseeing and aiding in everyday issues like house purchases and sales and marital disputes.

Responsibilities of a solicitor

As a solicitor, general work typically falls into categories of either contentious legal work (resolving disputes between two or more parties, usually in court or tribunal) or non-contentious legal work (dealing with a client’s business or personal matter from a legal standpoint). 

Typically, a solicitor’s duties will include representing clients, researching legislation and other cases, drafting letters, contracts, wills and other legal documents and liaising with clients and other legal professionals.

The overall responsibilities of a solicitor can vary depending on each solicitor’s chosen area of practice, though there are quite a few commonalities between them. Some of these involve:

  • Represent and defend legal interest of clients
  • Provide legal advice for house purchases and sales
  • Provide legal advice for marital disputes
  • Protecting individuals’ rights and ensure fair treatment
  • Pro bono (free of charge) help in certain circumstances
  • Provide legal aid to businesses during commercial transactions

Law degree and the needed qualifications

In 2021, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduced a new route to becoming a qualified solicitor known as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). 

The new SQE route is for people who have a degree level qualification (it doesn’t have to be a law degree), who then complete SQE1 and SQE2 exams, complete two years of qualifying work experience and satisfy the SRA’s character and suitability requirements on assessment. Often, students will complete the SQE2 exam while also completing the work experience, so this can often be a quicker route.

If you have a law degree, The University of Law's LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) course is designed for graduates who want to qualify as a solicitor using the new SQE route to practice and also gain a Master’s award. This course focuses on the skills that employers are seeking so that students can enhance their academic knowledge while preparing for the realities of life in legal practice, that’s why students will receive four weeks of guaranteed Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) on this course. This course will ensure students are fully prepared for a career as a solicitor, as well as success in the SQE exams.

If you have a non-law related degree, you can also complete a law conversion course to prepare you for a career as a solicitor: a Postgraduate Graduate Diploma in Law or MA Law (Conversion) course. Both these courses can be typically taken full-time for one year or part-time over two years.

For those of you determined from the start to become a solicitor while studying law initially, The University of Law offers an MLaw course that offers a quicker and more direct way to become a qualified solicitor. You can find out more information on that via this article

You can find out more information about the SRA requirements via the SRA’s Student Information Pack.

Alternatively, you can also still continue with the Legal Practice Course (LPC) route to qualify as a solicitor if you started one of the following by 31 August 2021:

  • a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) / the Common Professional Examination
  • a MA Law
  • the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
  • a period of recognised training (also known as a training contract)

For a qualifying law degree (QLD) and exempting law degree (ELD), such as our LLB, you must have started by 21 September 2021.

If you have already started a qualifying law degree, GDL or training contract there are transition arrangements in place until 31 December 2032 to qualify as a solicitor under the LPC route, as long as courses still remain available.

The LPC hones practical skills and legal knowledge and can be a full time (one year) or part-time (two year) course. After the LPC course, you’ll enter a period of recognised training which commonly lasts two years, as well as pass an SRA character and suitability assessment before being admitted as a qualified solicitor.

How long does it take to become a solicitor?

In order to become a solicitor professionally, you’ll generally have to study for at least four years full time. That timeline can be reduced or compacted quite a bit by taking the newly introduced SQE route, though, and isn’t quite as set in stone as it once was.

Career path for a solicitor

After becoming a qualified solicitor, there are a variety of areas you can work in. Some of the most common areas that have solicitors in demand are law firms, central or local governments, Crown Prosecution service, legal departments within organisations and companies, and many more.

Our partnership with The University of Law

The University of Law

The Student Room is proud to work with The University of Law as the official partner of our law hub, where current and future law students can find the advice and guidance they need.

The University of Law welcomes intelligent, ambitious students interested in the world around them; people who question systems, procedures and behaviours, and are not afraid to challenge convention.

Study at The University of Law and you’ll be equipped with the professional knowledge you need to excel in your chosen career, and supported by an award-winning employability service to help you get there.