Career in Law | Blog

How To Become A Solicitor Without A Law Degree

The route to a career in law is not limited to law graduates only. Non-law students are not disadvantaged in any shape or form when it comes to applying for a trainee role and in fact, any graduate regardless of the degree subject can become a solicitor. Some skills gained through degrees such as engineering or computer science are in increasing demand, therefore, being from a non-law background it could actually work to your advantage. So what is the route to a solicitor career without a law degree? Today we will be looking at the steps and qualification you need to take to become a solicitor.

Upcoming change
You may or you may not be aware but the current route to qualifying is changing in 2021 when the GDL and LPC (for law students only) courses are changing to one Solicitor Qualifying Exam. However, the old regime described below will still be applicable to those starting as late as September 2020.

Start early
So you have decided you want to become a lawyer, your preparation and the plan for how you will get there must start early.  You will need to start attending law fairs/open days as this will not only give you a good starting point to understand the life of a solicitor but also help you with your future applications for legal work experience placements. Next, you would want to gain some form of legal experience both informal and formal such as vacation schemes. Law firms run vacation schemes specifically for non-law students, so make sure you are familiar with the details. By taking these early steps it will help you decide on the kind of firm you want to work for and certainly, it will assist with the application process for training contracts further down the line.

Make the grade
This quite important step because not making the grade could seriously hinder your chances of becoming a solicitor. Concentrate on your studies and make sure you achieve a 2:1 or above. It is important to note that whilst firms typically specify they require a 2:1 and above grade, it does not, however, specify that those with a 2:2, for instance, are not permitted to apply but the reality is that unless you have extenuating  circumstances, it will be difficult to justify it otherwise.  Make your life easier and save yourself from explaining your grades by working hard and getting that all-important 2:1 grade.

Training contract application
The next step in your pursuit for a career as a solicitor is to apply for training contracts. This process can be very demanding and time-consuming, so again make yourself familiar with the process early on. Find useful tips and advice online about the training contract application process to help you navigate through it as smoothly as possible.

GDL Course
This course is specifically aimed at non-law graduates wishing to become solicitors. You can view as the ultimate pass and the final step before starting as a trainee. If you have secured a training contract and depending on the firm, this course will be either fully or partially funded by your future employer. The course has a three grade system, which consists of a pass, commendation, and distinction being the highest possible grade you can get. The modules of the course are typically the compulsory modules law students study in their law degrees such as criminal law, contract law, the law of tort and land law. You will also be required to research and write an essay on one other area of law unrelated to the core modules mentioned above.

Top tip
Law firms usually have arrangements in place with law schools where their future trainee's study for their GDL, so before you start applying for this course make sure you check with the firm which law school you are expected to attend. 

We hope you find the above guide helpful and insightful. Feel free to comment and or share this article with friends and colleagues that may find it useful.


Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs

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