Useful advice on the best routes into jobs in law and the legal services.
BY GENEVIEVE TYLER
To become a solicitor in England and Wales, you could consider one of the following routes:
Most solicitors qualify through taking a law degree, a legal practice course and two years of practice-based training and admission to the roll of solicitors. It is also necessary to complete a professional skills course. You can only undertake the Legal Practice Course with a qualifying law degree.
You can also enter law by taking another degree subject but you’ll have to take a one year conversion course after graduating, before taking the legal practice course. Bear in mind that some employers will prefer you to have studied a law degree.
NB: School leavers who have chosen not to go to university to do a degree can only qualify as a solicitor by undertaking exams set and authorised by CILEx (Chartered Institute of Licensed Executives). This involves working in a legal environment while studying part-time.
Barristers provide legal advice and represent their clients in courts. Often solicitors will refer work to a Barrister but in some cases you can go straight to a Barrister for advice or to represent you.
To be a Barrister you need to have an undergraduate degree in law or in any subject followed by a conversion course. You need to do a one year full-time vocational course and have one year legal, authorised training organised by Barristers, Chambers or another approved legal environment.
Paralegals offer support to solicitors and may work in the same way as other qualified legal professionals.
Paralegals tend to work in personal injury litigation, debt recovery, family law and immigration law.
You can also get into a career in law by starting as a legal secretary or in an administrative role and taking exams to qualify you further.
If you have not studied law before, you could look for an administrative role with a law firm and study for paralegal qualifications whilst you are working.
Many law graduates and postgraduates who have completed the Legal Practice Certificate or Bar Professional Training Course take jobs as paralegals if they have not yet found a solicitor’s training contract or barrister’s pupillage.
A Licensed Conveyancer is a legal specialist who focuses on property transactions. They work with their clients who want to sell, buy, lease or mortgage a house, flat, business premises or land.
To be a Licensed Conveyancer you have to pass your CLC (Council for Licensed Conveyancers) training. You will usually need at least four GCSEs (A-C) including English or equivalent qualifications to do this.
To become a Licensed Conveyancer, you must pass all your CLC exams and spend two years in practical training with another licensed conveyance or solicitor. You can study your CLC’s part-time in several colleges in England and Wales or by distance learning.