To be a lawyer: There are 3 Necessary Steps
There are 3 steps to becoming a solicitor or barrister in the UK. These steps cannot, in most cases, be avoided. Therefore, if you are already over 25 years old, we encourage you to give a great deal of thought to these 3 steps before starting on the long road to becoming a lawyer. If you are over 35, the possibility of qualifying to become a lawyer drops to a less than 10% chance. To understand why this is the case we strongly urge you to speak to one of our experienced advisers. The additional information that we can provide may save you a great deal of time, money and heartache.
Step 1: Obtain a Law Society qualifying law degree (a traditional LLB degree). Many do not realize that obtaining a Law Society qualifying law degree is not only the first step, it is also, by far, the easiest of the 3 steps.
Step 2: After obtaining a Law Society qualifying law degree a student will then have to either under take the mandatory LPC (Legal Practice Course) to become a solicitor, or the Bar Vocational course to become a barrister.
In either of the above cases, the fee, for this additional and compulsory course, ranges from anywhere between £6,000 to £10,000+ depending on which teaching institution you apply to.
Step 3: The final step, which for the majority is the most difficult, is persuading a firm of solicitors, or barristers to grant them a training contract. The problem is that there are far more graduates seeking a training contract than there are solicitor or barrister training contracts available.
Obtaining a training contract is, however, a Law Society/Bar Council requirement. It is only after completing a 2 year training contract that the Law Society or Bar Council will grant a student the right to practice as a solicitor or barrister.
In a ddition to the demand for a training contract being far greater than the supply of training contracts, other factors such as which university granted the degree, race, colour, sex and social status also have a significant bearing on who gets a training contract.
Possibly due to these, and, other factors, over 75% of those that start out by taking a law degree (Step 1) with a view to becoming a practicing lawyer, end up working in non law fields.
If, however, you are still determined to try to become a lawyer, then may be another approach might be worth considering. Accepting that there are far more law degree holders seeking a training contract than there are training contracts available (to verify this contact the Law Society and ask them), why not try the back door approach to becoming a lawyer.
Work from inside a law firm ( this approach works better with the small to medium size law firm) or legal department (there are many legal departments in government and local government departments). A small law firm or a legal department is more likely to give a training contract to one of their own (if that person shows exceptional ability) than an unknown.
Getting work as a paralegal is far far easier than getting a training contract. However, the level of a paralegal can vary, therefore, if you want to use this approach to try and obtain a training contract you will need to enter at a senior level, a position with a significant level of responsibility.
To be able to enter the work place at a senior level you will need to be qualified as a Higher Paralegal (Senior Paralegal).