Graduate Job of the Week: Solicitor
Written by Megan Hancock
Did you know that you don’t have to have an undergraduate degree in law to qualify as a solicitor? Law firms are increasingly interested in recruiting non-law graduates, and with English degrees providing a wide range of transferable skills, if you have a passion for all things law, don’t rule out a career as a solicitor. That being said, it’s one of the most competitive markets out there, so here’s how to get ahead and bag a graduate job worthy of a role in Suits…
How do I qualify? Once you have your degree (most providers specify a 2:1 or above) you will need to apply for a one year conversion course known as the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law). When combined with a non-law degree, it is equivalent to a degree in law, yet be warned – it is extremely intensive. After this, a one year LPC (Legal Practice Course) will require completion – the vocational stage of training as a solicitor that focuses on acquiring practical, relevant skills. The final stage is a compulsory two year training contract, essentially an apprenticeship, with a law firm (where you finally begin to get paid!)
How do I fund my training? According to targetjobslaw.co.uk, the GDL conversion course fees range from £3,000 – £10,200 depending on the provider. Large law firms will fund their future trainees’ LPC fees and in some cases the conversion course, if you secure a training contract with them before you begin. However, without this, the course is very expensive, with no guarantee of a job at the end of it – it’s vital to gain experience before pursuing a career in law so that you know it is right for you.
How do I gain relevant experience? As a non-law student, showing your commitment to a career in law is important. Most firms offer work experience placements, but they are extremely competitive with a lengthy application process. By all means go for it, but if they don’t work out, you could also apply to some smaller, high street firms and perhaps try a day of shadowing a solicitor to get a feel for the role and what it involves. Pro-bono volunteering (meaning ‘for the public good’) is a great way to gain experience by offering legal advice to the public through organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. Furthermore, getting involved in Newcastle University’s Law4NonLaw society would demonstrate your commitment to becoming a solicitor, and offers opportunities to attend talks and seminars providing additional advice. Alternatively, you could join a society offering relevant skills, such as debating. And, although relevant experience is important, law firms also like to recruit well rounded individuals, so try additional activities that you personally enjoy, such as being a member of a sports team, volunteering or writing for the Courier.
How can I find out more?
- Visit the Careers Service at Kings Gate on main campus to chat with an advisor about your options and whether a solicitor is the right job for you.
- Attend an open day at a University that is a course provider for the GDL – Northumbria Law School open day is on the 6th February 2015.
- For pro-bono opportunities and advice: http://www.lawworks.org.uk/?id=students
- Follow the @lawsocgazette on Twitter for the latest legal news and download The Economist app – firms are big on commercial and legal awareness, and apps and social media are an easy way to receive updates.
Thanks for reading everyone, keep an eye out for next week’s GJOTW!