In the English legal system, law graduates follow two separate branches of law. barristers plead cases in court on behalf of clients, while solicitors prepare cases and instruct barristers. Solicitors are often employed to administer aspects of commercial law for corporate clients. To become a solicitor in the English legal system, some specific qualifications are required.
To become a solicitor, you will need to graduate from a university that offers a degree qualifying the holder to enrol in a Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA) Legal Practice Course. A level qualifications are the most common form of university entry qualification in England and Wales, and because law degrees tend to be highly subscribed, good grades are needed. It is not necessary to have A levels in legally related subjects. Although A levels dealing with certain aspects of law are available, they are not taught at most schools. Universities differ in the A level entry requirements for law degree applicants, so unless you are expecting top grades in three or four A level examinations, you should look at the entry requirements at a number of universities.
A prospective solicitor needs to hold a qualifying law degree to be accepted on the SRA Legal Practice Course. Degrees with a strict focus on specific areas of law, such as business law, criminal law and human rights law, are usually known as bachelor of laws degrees, and holders of these degrees can use the letters LLB after their names. Conjoined degrees, for which law is studied alongside another subject, such as law and politics or law and business management, usually lead to bachelor of arts (BA) degrees, and these are also qualifying law degrees.
Graduate Diploma in Law
You can still become a solicitor, even if you do not hold a qualifying law degree. Degree holders from any academic discipline may apply for a place on what is known as a conversion course, to prepare them for the legal career path. The conversion course typically runs for 10 months and leads to a qualification known as a graduate diploma in law. Holders of a non-qualifying degree plus the graduate diploma in law can take the Legal Practice Course and follow the career path to becoming a practicing solicitor.