Before discussing the route to qualification as a solicitor and as a barrister in England & Wales, it is important to distinguish between these two positions. A solicitor works either in a private practice firm or in-house within the legal department of a non-legal company, whereas a barrister specialises in advocacy within a court room and are instructed by solicitors.
A solicitor works either in a private practice firm or in-house within the legal department of a non-legal company, whereas a barrister specialises in advocacy within a court room and are instructed by solicitors.
In England and Wales, there are three main routes to qualification as a solicitor.
The ‘Traditional’ Route
This is the route that most solicitors take (although this may change in the future!). It consists of an undergraduate degree in Law (LLB) which takes three years and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which lasts one year. Then, a two-year traineeship including qualifying examinations at a law firm or legal department must be completed. Ultimately, this route takes six years.
The Non-Law Route
The non-law route applies to aspiring solicitors who have studied an undergraduate degree other than law. They must study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) then complete the LPC and traineeship. Ultimately, excluding the first undergraduate degree, this route takes four years.
The Apprenticeship Route
Level 7 apprenticeships are still a fairly novel route to qualification as a solicitor as it does not require full time study at university, although it is becoming more and more popular each year. An apprenticeship covers the same content as the LLB and LPC which is provided by a university on a part-time basis – this ensures apprentices study the same topics at the same quality as those taking the ‘traditional’ route. Solicitor apprentices can receive varying qualifications depending on the particular university their law firm partners with to provide the academic portion of training. This ranges from an LLB in Legal Practice, LLB (Hons) and LLB Hons Law in Legal Practice and Skills. Ultimately, the apprenticeship takes six years to complete.
To become a barrister, the first two of the routes above apply except the LPC is replaced by a Bar Course and the traineeship replaced by a Pupillage. Unfortunately, there are no apprenticeships as yet which lead to qualification as a barrister.
Please see the diagram below by LawCareers.net which explains this information in a visual format.
By Lauren Moore and Legable