Like so many of the best jobs, becoming a lawyer is rarely completely straightforward. With the right training and qualifications, though (and providing you enjoy research and have a logical mind), law could be the perfect career for you. Here are some tips on how to become a lawyer in the UK – from how long it takes to what you need in terms of qualifications – to get you started…
It almost goes without saying that the first bridge to cross will be getting the right qualifications. As with anything these days, there are plenty of different ways to come at it, though. Diploma courses are generally a one-year course and can be done alongside other qualifications. They give you a taste of the subject of Law and make for a great starting point for further study in the subject. If you’re not quite sure if Law is for you then a diploma course could be the perfect starting point.
A Levels & BTECs
The next logical step after (or alongside) a diploma is an A Level or BTEC course; these are the qualifications you will need to progress to the next step of degree level. An A Level in Law can be taken alongside other A Levels to give you the entry qualifications to get into university or can be taken as a stand-alone qualification if you already have A Levels. BTEC courses give you a complete entry qualification into university and some universities will give you a year or more exemption from their course when you have this qualification.
Obviously a Law degree is the next step for you to become a lawyer. Law degree courses can be very competitive so the more training, qualifications and experience you have under your belt beforehand, the better your chances of gaining a place; a strong academic record with good qualifications will put you ahead of the crowd.
There are several post-grad courses you will need to take to complete your qualifications in becoming a lawyer. CPE/GDL courses cover the foundations of legal knowledge to complete your academic training. If you are a mature student or have other academic or vocational qualifications you could qualify to become a lawyer with this course, without having taken a degree first. To become a solicitor you will need to complete the Legal Practice course. You can find more information on those subjects on the Law Society website: Lawsociety.org.uk.
Once you’ve achieved the relevant qualifications to become a lawyer, you come to the next step: work experience. Given that this is very much a requirement, you should be looking into work experience and work placements while you’re studying. You can gain experience in your free time by working for a lawyer’s office or you can arrange placements during your university course to work at a local firm. In doing this you are much more likely to be offered a training contract and then a job with them when you are fully qualified, too. Take a look at these tips on Law Britannia: Lawbritannia.co.uk.
There are other options to take along the way once you have decided which route you would like to take. From criminal barristers to corporate lawyers via local solicitors, Law is a wide subject and you may find that further down the line you’d like to specialise in one particular area. Do your research and take a wide range of qualifications to give you the best options for your future. Whichever way you come at it, it’ll take several years of study and hard work. Ultimately though, it’ll be worth it.
(Photo by Anthony Manjanlahty on Flickr.)