In return, however, you get the excitement and satisfaction of working on and completing a stimulating project after months of hard work. It’s true that being a solicitor is tough – on an important case you will have to work long hours, deal with demanding clients and meet tight deadlines, whilst maintaining accuracy and efficiency with lots of files. You will need plenty of dedication and perseverance, but the work is varied so it certainly won’t get boring!

This sector is worth £27.9bn in the UK (1.4% of GDP) in 2018 and has grown at 3.3% each year for the past 10 years compared to 1.2% for overall UK  economic growth (Economic Value of the Legal Sector, Law Society of England & Wales).

The sector is extremely diverse in terms of roles and places of work for solicitors. Whilst many Oxford graduates feel that they should follow a career into a London based, commercial law firm, this is by no means the appropriate choice for everybody – and many more options exist.

Legal issues hit the headlines every day and the sector is undergoing significant changes. Here are some of the major changes which may affect you as an Oxford student keen to enter this sector after graduation. It is vital that you do your own extensive research to ensure that you are aware of what is going on and to find out where you might be interested in working. Some of the recent events to affect the legal profession are:

Covid 19 (Update October 2020)

Like many other businesses, law firms have been in the news with the actions they have taken to protect themselves and their employees as much as possible both during and after the pandemic. Withholding partner dividends, reducing working hours for associates and redeploying or furloughing staff have all been in the legal headlines.  Court services have been significantly reduced and jury trials were suspended for a time.  For students, the immediate impact has been through the cancellation of the Easter and first year vacation schemes and open days.  Many of the Summer schemes were put online while others were cancelled.  In some cases participants were still made Training Contract offers and others were redirected to later schemes.  It is too early to early to know for certain how the recruitment of trainees will be affected in the next cycle 2020/21. There are some positive signs  from the major law firms but the end result, which will be dependent on so many unknown factors, is likely to be a mixed picture.  Be prepared for some changes –  both to timings and also to the methods of recruitment. Keep yourself updated!

Changes to Legal Education, Training and Qualification

Following a major review in legal education and training in 2013 and several lengthy consultations the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced in April 2017 major changes to the qualification route for solicitors; the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) will be introduced in Autumn 2021 (earliest). The Legal Services Board gave its approval (March 2018) to the first stage of these changes. A final decision on the changes is expected by 28th October 2020.  Once fully implemented, they will replace the current system for qualification as a solicitor in England & Wales. Their aim is to widen access to the profession by creating more flexible routes to entry whilst maintaining the rigour and quality of legal education and training.  Whilst this is perhaps the most significant change to qualification in the last 30 years, its introduction is likely to be gradual and take place over a number of years.  At the time of writing, there are still many elements of SQE which are yet to be decided but you should keep yourself up to date and read the details of what has already been decided by the Regulator (S.R.A.) in the “Changes to the system” section of this briefing.

The Legal Services Act 2007

The introduction of this act was to allow the emergence of new practices and so improve access to justice. It has allowed the setting up of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs). An ABS is a law firm (or an organisation which offers legal services) where both lawyers and non-lawyers can be in partnership together and share the management of the business. There are now 800+ licensed ABSs and they represent 6+% of all firms. These have been a mix of existing, traditional law firms (e.g. Irwin Mitchell) and other non legal organisations who may want to begin to offer legal services (e.g. BT Law Ltd) or improve the effectiveness of the legal service they currently offer (e.g. Harrow & Barnet Councils’ legal departments have formed HB Public Law). The impact of these new organisations is potentially many more places of employment for solicitors, more variety in types of role for solicitors, as well as new legal roles.

The Act also allows law firms, for the first time, to offer shares on the stock market and take capital from external investors. The first law firm to take advantage of this was Gately, an Anglo-Scottish law firm, which raised £30m through a successful listing on the London Stock Exchange.


It is still too early to judge the impact of the Brexit vote and the subsequent separation from European organisations will affect trainee recruitment, lateral hires, practice rights or the type of work done by solicitors.  You are advised to keep up to date by reading the news, legal publications and talking to recruiters, lawyers and regulators.

Continuing trends

In their drive to survive and grow in the tougher market conditions which arose from the deep depression ( 2008-2013)  we have seen a great many law firms merge, both within the UK and internationally. Asia, Australasia, Africa and South America have been particular targets for firms chasing business associated with growing financial markets and natural resources. Closer to home on the High Street, smaller law firms and law centres have had to face significant cuts to the legal aid budget as well as increased competition for the Legal Services Act.  Costs pressures have also led to firms looking for new ways to be efficient so there has been a significant growth in; the employment of paralegals; the outsourcing of non legal functions and of paralegal work to centres outside London; and better, more effective use of technology (in particular, artificial intelligence tools). Some firms have built or bought tech hubs for their firms and some have even launched lawtech training contracts.

The last 3 years have been relatively buoyant in terms of the numbers of training contract (PRTs) available.  5811 training contracts were registered in 2017/18, 1.6% more than in the previous year  and well ahead of the recession low of 4874 in 2009. Retention rates on qualification  have also improved.However, we are yet to know how these numbers will be affected in 2020/21.

Expand All

There are around 182,000 solicitors in England and Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland have separate systems), with about 140,000 holding practising certificates. At present, the majority (75%) of solicitors work in private practice firms owned and managed by the partners. The proportion of solicitors working in the largest firms (81+ partners) has continued to increase steadily from 17% 15 years ago to 28% today. These firms employ 38% of all trainees.

Firms vary tremendously in size and specialisation; there are 9488 firms in total! The working environment, life-style and work/life balance of solicitors will vary considerably between environments. You will need to complete careful research to decide which is the best environment is for you.

Here are some of the factors that you may wish to consider when researching firms for yourself:

Types of firm

Broadly, the work that law firms do can be split into two categories;

  • Work that serves the needs of commerce, such as corporate matters and commercial litigation.
  • Work that deals with clients with personal legal issues e.g. family, crime, personal injury.

Some firms may do a mix of work whilst others will specialise in either commercial work or private client work.  60% of all firms' total revenue comes from "business to business" work.

For those interested in being trained in a non-commercial environment, there are opportunities to complete a training contact within the Government Legal Profession (who recruit annually and usually attend the Law Fair) or in local government.  Occasionally the Crown Prosecution Service also hires trainees.

For some areas of legal practice – for example within the human rights areas or those areas which traditionally have been publicly funded – you may need to consider a more flexible approach to qualification as a solicitor. Firms that work in these areas tend not to take on trainees (or possibly just a very small number) and therefore do not make presentations or attend the Law Fair here (except as guest panellists). Instead, they may offer paralegal/legal executive opportunities with the possibility of providing some support to move on to the full solicitor training and qualification at a later point. Changes to the qualification process from 2014 allowed for qualification under “equivalent means” & this may now give rise for a greater possibility of qualification as a solicitor without completing a training contract (PRT) in these types of firms and practice areas. Once SQE arrives this may also facilitate a more flexible way to qualify here as the "qualifying experience" element allows you to build experience in up to 4 different places of work rather than having to find a standard 2 year training contract (PRT).   Even though these kinds of firms do not visit Oxford as often as the larger commercial ones, there are plenty of resources available (listed at the end of this briefing) to find out more about them.

Size of firm

The largest firms have hundreds of partners and solicitors operating from numerous offices across the globe and with significant resources to support their work in serving the needs of international business.  Most of these large and medium sized practices have specialist departments or practice areas as most solicitors now tend to specialise either on qualification or very shortly afterwards.  The largest firms will probably take on approximately 80-100 trainees each year.

The smallest firm would be a sole practitioner working in the local community. Such a firm is very unlikely to offer trainee positions at all.

Location: London or elsewhere?

Many Oxford students are attracted to the commercial sectors of the Law, particularly in London. These opportunities tend to have a higher profile here, with many of the larger firms targeting Oxford. However, you should consider carefully whether this route is right for you. There are opportunities for excellent training and work in other regions of the UK and in different types of practice, e.g. in medium and small ‘niche’ practices which operate both within London and in the UK’s thriving regional city centres.
The firms in regional centres in the UK – e.g. Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester – are major players attracting high quality work from leading businesses, both locally and internationally. Every city or town has firms that service the local business community. General or “High Street” firms, which provide a mix of personal and business law are found throughout the country.

At Oxford we are fortunate to have a wide variety of law firms wishing to hire both law and non-law undergraduates and postgraduates, either to train as solicitors within the UK (England & Wales), or to return to home jurisdictions to start or complete their training. In the last few years we have seen a rapid rise in law firm merger activity across the world as well as non-UK based firms starting up UK practices in London for the first time. This may change the emphasis in terms of the desired attributes of the individuals who are sought out for hiring: a keen cultural awareness, a desire to take a trainee secondment or 2-3 year stint at an international office and even language ability may become more sought after as firms develop. 

Whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate we would suggest that you do your research thoroughly, and early, in your time at Oxford to avoid any confusion or disappointment.

Private practice or "in-house"?

The Law Society describes solicitors working “in-house” as follows:
“Solicitors who practice in-house do so in a variety of different organisations, including working as in-house counsel for commercial organisations, working for a law centre, Citizen’s Advice Bureau or other non-commercial organisation”.

Although the majority of solicitors work in private practice, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of solicitors working outside this environment.

Approximately 28,000 solicitors now work in-house and this sector is now home to almost a quarter of working solicitors ( those attached to an organisation) across 4500 commercial and 1000 not for profit organisations. This has doubled over the last 10 years and is predicted to increase further as the impact of the Legal Services Act takes hold.

Many of the solicitors working in-house have often qualified in private practice first, built up some experience and then moved across into an in-house role. There are relatively few opportunities to complete a training contract outside private practice although it is possible and the SRA holds a list of all organisations who have been authorised to provide training contracts. This list is extensive, but in reality only small numbers of organisations actually offer training contracts on a regular basis. Opportunities are usually listed on in the “Find a training contract” section.

Many solicitors use their qualification to move away from legal practice into other areas of work in business, administration, training, teaching or consultative roles.

Training, retention rates and salaries

Each firm will manage its trainee contingent in a slightly different way and this may continue to evolve especially with SQE on the horizon. At present though, training contracts (PRTs) typically last 2 years, involve a variety of different rotations (known as “seats”) and will conclude after 2 years with qualification.

At this point firms will try to match the trainees with the needs of the organisation and that of the individual. Inevitably, some trainees decide that they wish to pursue their legal careers elsewhere and leave. Or a firm may decide that they are not able to accommodate every single trainee as a permanent employee. In the last couple of years firms have managed to improve their retention rates (i.e. the number of trainees they retain on qualification) but they can still vary tremendously from firm to firm.

The range of remuneration varies considerably. The SRA no longer sets a minimum wage level for training contracts (PRTs) but it is likely to be around c. £16,650, with the London rate at c. £18,500. City of London firms will often pay much more – often £40-50,000, exceptionally £60,000 – to their trainees.

On qualification rates will also vary: Recently some top London firms have raised their NQ (newly qualified) salaries to £100,000 (often with added bonuses for top performers) to keep pace with their US rivals who often offer this level and more.  Top of the market is c £120,000+ but a more typical level for London would be £60-85,000 .  Please be aware that very high salaries usually mean very high demands and expectations (e.g long hours, unpredictable hours, high levels of responsibility and so on).  Be honest with yourself about how you will enjoy/cope with this sort of working life before you sign up to it.  There are so many places you can work as a solicitor so be sure to thoroughly research what is right for you. In other sectors and in the regions firms would pay considerably less. The earnings of qualified solicitors and partners will vary enormously, according to sector and specialisation.

Skills needed

Recruiters are pretty unanimous in what they look for. Leading commercial firms will expect applicants to have a consistent academic record, i.e. 2:1, predicted or attained, and AAB/ABB grades at A-Level. Many firms are now using contextual recruitment tools as a way to better understand each candidate's achievements in context.  As firms have increasingly used vacation placements as a means to hiring trainees, they are paying greater attention to grades achieved in first year exams.  Other firms outside of the leading commercial group may have slightly lower academic requirements, but all are agreed on the need for applicants to show:

  • Appropriate knowledge and motivation.
  • High ethical standards and an understanding of the role of law.
  • Evidence of good interpersonal skills.
  • A variety of sustained interests which reveal a high level of achievement.
  • Evidence of use of initiative, taking responsibility and resilience.
  • Evidence of commercial awareness (all law firms are businesses).
  • Knowledge of the firm and justification of your suitability for it.
  • Technical - increasingly lawyers will be using technology in many facets of their job and  will need to be comfortable at using whatever systems or software are developed in their environment to bring about efficiencies, increased accuracy and cost savings.  For now, make sure that you are the the best you can be at any technology you are currently using for e.g. on line research tools, learning platforms, cloud facilities and basic packages such as Word. Make use of the fantastic courses offered at extremely low cost (or free) through the the University's new online portal Molly
  • Language skills and cultural awareness are a plus.
  • Provided other criteria are met, scientific or engineering knowledge/thinking may also be highly  valued.

Getting experience

How do you decide whether you want to be a solicitor, and, if you do, what kind? Much is written on the subject and a list of useful publications and online resources can be found at the end of this briefing in the resources sections. Employers will expect you to have fully researched this career option and for you to be sure of your motivations.  Perhaps the most important way to find out what a solicitor does and whether it suits your skills, interests and motivations is to arrange some kind of practical activity where you can talk to solicitors and see them at work. Here are some ideas, any of which can be used on your applications:

1. Formal Vacation Schemes

Sometimes known as vacation placements or work experience schemes, vacation schemes are becoming an increasingly important part of the process to securing a training contract (PRT).

Schemes are often available during all three term breaks and traditionally have often been targeted at specific student groups. This is changing, and we are seeing some firms becoming much more flexible about the makeup of their vac scheme cohorts. In previous years the Christmas ones have tended to be targeted at non-Law students in their final year, but now some firms open these freely to penultimate year non-lawyers or indeed to all students (law and non law). Closing dates for Christmas schemes tend to be in late October (some as early as 9th October), while official closing dates for Easter/Summer placements are often between mid/end of December and early/mid January - they are getting earlier. It is vital that you check the deadlines with each firm and clarify whether they interview applicants ahead of their closing dates. Some firms definitely do screen applicants before the closing dates.  We do not advise that you leave you application to the night before the deadline!

Vacation Scheme applications will require similar effort to complete as the official training contract (PRT) applications. Some firms may allow you to complete one form for both a vacation scheme and a training contract (PRT) whilst others will only allow you to apply for either a vacation scheme or a training contract (PRT). You need to be convincing in your prior research and motivation, e.g. why you are interested in being a solicitor, why you are exploring this type of practice and why this firm.  It is important to get this right, as these applications are often your first formal contact with a practice.

Most firms test, interview and/or run assessment days for their schemes, sometimes upon receipt of application before the official closing date. The most common test is the Watson Glaser critical thinking test or a situational judgement type test.   If you get onto a vacation scheme, assume that you are being scrutinised for your suitability for a permanent position as a trainee. Some firms will recruit 40-50+% of their trainees from their vacation placement cohorts, so securing a placement does put you in a strong position to be offered a training contract interview (and then hopefully a training contract) at the end of the placement. In some firms, a much higher proportion (up to 100%) of trainees may be recruited from the vacation scheme. It is therefore wise to try and work out, through speaking with the recruiters, how important the vacation scheme is for them as a route to entry as a trainee in their firm. Importantly though, these schemes provide you with a golden opportunity to get to know the practice, its people and work, so that you are well-informed. These schemes are usually between 1 and 4 weeks in duration and are paid.

If you are unsure about the sort of firm you would like to work for, then you might consider applying for a variety of different types of vacation scheme to help you decide. Entry for these schemes is very competitive, so follow the usual guidance for making a top quality application.

Now many large London firms are offering mini vacation schemes to first year law students for the Easter Vacation. Please do not feel that you are "missing out" if you are not ready or just not wishing to apply for a first year scheme. There are ample opportunities to apply for schemes in your second year and beyond.   Vacation Scheme opportunities and deadlines can be found on websites such as and The Lawyer Portal but  please still do check final dates and deadlines with firms as changes can occur.

There are also a number of organisations and schemes for students with a  minority or disadvantaged background and those with a disability, e.g. Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London and Employ-Ability.

Virtual Internships - over the last year or so we have also seen an expansion in firms offering virtual schemes. Usually these are open to all and are free.  Many are hosted by the platform Inside Sherpa and they can be an excellent way to understand a firm, its practice areas and to explore the life of a solicitor by completing a series of exercises over 5 or 6 hours.   

If you do not secure a vacation scheme do not despair!  If this happens (which it does, even to Oxford students), focus your energies on finding out about the profession in the ways mentioned below. Come and talk to a Careers Adviser about your tactics and your applications and we will be happy to help. Please do not assume that this means that you cannot get a training contract (PRT) and become a solicitor.

In the vast majority of firms you can still apply for a training contract (PRT) with a firm even if you did not do a vacation scheme with them – but you will need to show strong motivation and evidence for wanting to be a solicitor.

2. Law Firm Open Days and Workshops

Many firms provide opportunities to visit them on one of their Open Days and Workshops.  Sometimes these are targeted at certain student groups - for example, first year lawyers are often invited during Trinity term - while others are open to all.  Firms also often invite students who narrowly missed out on a vacation scheme place to these other events. These are excellent ways to investigate firms, talk to practising lawyers and to get useful tips and hints on applications, commercial awareness and other areas.

3. Arrange your own informal work shadowing/work experience

Why not try and approach your local firm, a law centre, an in-house legal team (of a company or local council) or visit your local courts? Any of these are possible alternative means of building your knowledge of the legal sector and life as a solicitor. When approaching contacts, start out by asking for something small; perhaps a visit to the office or an hour to chat to a solicitor about their work.  After being able to meet face to face you might find that you hear about other opportunities but even if not, you will have learnt more about the profession.

4. "Meet" the firms in Oxford or at their online events

There is always plenty of opportunity to meet law firms, trainees, associates and partners.  This year, the "meeting" is likely to be at an online event.  The Careers Service will be running a series of events with law firms and these will only be open to Oxford students.  Take a look at our online calendar and then sign up for events on CareerConnect.  Included in our programme is our Law Fair - which will be on 21st October and will be held virtually.   You can also join the University’s Law Society or your College’s Law Society as they will provide further opportunities for you to talk with solicitors, to find out how firms differ and to acquire hints and tips for applications. And/or you might like to sign up the the Law Faculty's careers email which will let you know about their events - this is open to law and non law students. 

This year there will also be a very wide variety of sessions covering all aspects of becoming a solicitor available to you through online events offered by law firms, legal publishers and legal education providers.  This will include the chance to attend even more law fairs!  These events are likely to be mainly open access to all students in the UK and overseas so you will be able to sign up for whatever is of interest to you.   

5. Utilise the Oxford Network

We estimate that approximately 10% of Oxford students pursue a career in the law each year. This means that there are plenty of Alumni in relevant jobs to help and guide you too! The Law Faculty operates a Law LinkedIn Group – both law and non law students can ask to join this. Many colleges run their own contact databases from their Alumni offices. If you are considering working abroad you can consider using the Oxford alumni contacts that exist round the world. Use the Oxford University website and the alumni portal to find relevant groups or make enquires at the Law Faculty Development Office.

The Law Faculty runs talks and lectures, many of which are open to all students and often led by Alumni. It is well worth exploring these avenues so that you can talk to solicitors who were once in the same situation as you. 

6. Get related work experience

For today’s solicitors, it is vital that they know and understand their clients and the environments in which the clients operate. Depending on the type of firm or organisation in which you would like to practice, securing some related work or volunteer experience would also be valuable. For example, if you are considering corporate law, then some experience working in another business (a retailer, bank, or sales and marketing company) would be useful. Equally, if you are thinking of heading towards private client or community based law, then volunteering in an advice centre (e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau, or a local charity helping & advocating for individuals in distress) would be sensible.
This experience doesn’t have to be via a formal, paid placement in a large organisation. Employers can be just as impressed by students who have initiated their own work or volunteer work either in and around their community or by taking part in University / College activities.

Remember also that during these current times it will be more difficult to secure traditional experiences but that law firms will be interested if you have done volunteering during the pandemic, found and online job, managed to secure temporary work in a retailer or anything similar. These are all ways to show your initiative and your resilience. Don't forget that the Careers Service also has a full programme of virtual Summer and Micro work experiences and other programmes to help you develop appropriate skills.

You might like to apply to the one of the Bonavero Institute's Student Fellowships - these are open to final year undergraduates, law alumni (within 12 months of leaving), graduate law students or graduate students of other disciplines who hold undergraduate law degrees.

7. Extend your network

Utilise The Law Society of England and Wales and other Legal Associations to extend your network.

The Law Society has a Junior Lawyers Division that looks after the interests of students, trainees and young lawyers. They run events and conferences which may be open to students and which provide good networking opportunities. The Law Society has a wide range of specialist groups, which provide opportunities for further research/exploration of the work that might interest you and also networking opportunities.

Other very useful groups are the Young Legal Aid Lawyers, the UK Law Student Association, the European Law Students’ Association and the University and College Law Societies that exist within Oxford.

The professional body for solicitors is The Law Society, but the regulatory function is undertaken by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This body lays down the training rules and is responsible for any changes in the regulations.

Stages to qualification (Current System):

There are three stages to qualification as a solicitor.

1. The academic stage

This is satisfied by completing either a qualifying law degree or, for graduates of other disciplines, a conversion course, the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), often still referred to as the CPE, available on a one-year, full-time or two-year, part-time basis. Another option at this stage is the two-year Senior Status Law Degree, available at a number of universities. Both of these courses are common to both would-be solicitors and barristers.

2. The vocational stage

For solicitors this is the Legal Practice Course (LPC), also available on a one-year full-time, or two-year part-time basis and as a 7 month course (known as the Accelerated LPC). Some providers also offer the opportunity to study an LPC LLM (involving an additional research module) or even an LPC MSc in Law, Business & Management (with additional case study report).

3. The practical stage

This consists of a two-year “period of recognised training (PRT)” (previously known as a "Training Contract" - see "Changes to the current system" for details) in a solicitor’s practice or other legal department authorised for training by the SRA. Normally this is undertaken after completing the LPC. During the training contract (PRT) the trainee also completes the Professional Skills Course.

Regulatory Updates

In 2014, the SRA made several changes to their regulations for qualification including:


The Training Contract (PRT) no longer needs to be completed under the terms of the specified SRA Training Contract. Instead, a “Period of Recognised Training – PRT” offered by the firm to the trainee will be completed.  PRT therefore is replacing the term “Training Contract” in the regulatory framework. Both media and many law firms though will most likely continue to use the words “Training Contract” to advertise their roles but don’t be surprised if you see the term “PRT” instead – in reality it is the same thing! We have used the term “Training Contract (PRT)" in this briefing. The scope of the PRT in terms of the skills and knowledge required has not changed, but there is no longer a mandate from the SRA to complete contentious and non contentious seats as long as the appropriate skills are demonstrated; some firms may still insist on a seat in each area).

2. Qualification as a solicitor by “Equivalent Means”

It is now possible (since July 2014) for someone who has been working as a paralegal but has not obtained a training contract (PRT), to qualify as a solicitor once certain practical experience requirements are met. Details can be found on the SRA website. This route is most likely to be deployed in areas of law where training contracts (PRTs) are sparse or where individuals have spent time working as paralegals. The first person to be qualified in this way was a paralegal with law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, in early 2015.

It is likely that the traditional route to qualification (i.e. law degree/GDL + LPC + Training Contract (PRT)) is likely to be the dominant one for Oxford graduates until the SQE is introduced. Qualification through “equivalent means” costs £600, needs considerable documentary evidence and can take several months to process. This is on top of the time spent building up relevant experience.

3. Exemptions

Applications for part exemptions for the GDL should be made direct to the GDL provider.  Applications for total exemptions should still go to the SRA.

4. Certificate of Completion of Academic Stage

The SRA will no longer issue these certificates for students about to start the LPC.  Instead, the LPC provider will decide if the student is eligible.

Qualified Lawyers

Recruitment of lawyers within England and Wales who are already qualified in other jurisdictions is equally varied and also subject to the rules of the SRA. The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which is the current scheme set up for the assessment of international (and intra UK) lawyers seeking to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales, is constantly being revised. Visit the SRA’s website for the latest information and advice regarding the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme and the Mutual Recognition of Qualifications under the European Directive and the documentation required for eligibility to sit the exams. The SRA will also ensure compliance with any changes which may be needed for internationally qualified lawyers as as result of the UK  leaving the EU.  Before embarking on requalification, ensure that you also speak to relevant personnel within law firms for information on how firms view and manage the QLTS process. They may or may not see it as a requirement, depending on the work you will be doing and the experience you have. If your post qualification experience is limited, a firm may suggest that you apply for a training Contract (PRT).

It is now possible to sit the QLTS exams outside the UK, but wherever you sit them, the process is costly (£4,188 including VAT).

It is anticipated that the QLTS will cease to exist once the SQE comes into force in 2021. Internationally qualified lawyers are advised to check the availability of QLTS tests, if they are considering this option as there will only be limited opportunities for these as we move towards the SQE changeover.

Recruitment of qualified lawyers in the UK happens through a variety of ways; directly by law firms on their websites; regular jobs posting on online legal job sites; through recruitment agencies and through networking. Securing a position as a qualified lawyer will likely depend on your area of expertise, the equivalent amount and type of experience that you have, and the business needs of the firms. You will also need to consider your visa status. For the most complete and up-to-date information, check Oxford University’s webpages or the UK Council for International Student Affairs’. You can also email for specialist visa help.

Applying to courses: GDL, Senior Status Law and LPC

Details of all institutions offering courses for the academic and vocational stages may be found on the SRA website and on the Central Application Board’s (CAB) website. Note that applications for all these courses are normally assessed, and offers made, without interview.

Graduate Diploma in Law

This information is for GDL (also known as the CPE) applications (for non law students or law students who do not hold a "Qualifying Law Degree" for the English and Welsh jurisdiction).

  • Applications for full-time courses only are made through the Central Application Board. This online application system contains details of, and links to, all GDL course providers, a number of whom attend our annual Law Fair in November.
  • Applications can now be made for the GDL on a rolling basis across the year prior to entry so there is no longer a closing date. While there is no CAB closing date, some institutions may ask for applications to be made before a certain date in order to have a place guaranteed (subject to meeting their criteria) or to meet a deadline to be considered for funding from that institution.
  • Once an application is received by CAB it is then released to the institutions and offers can be made from then on. Different institutions may respond at different rates and some courses/institutions may be more popular than others.
  • There remains a statutory cooling off period for acceptances made.
  • We advise you to research the institutions carefully, to visit if possible and, when ready, to make your application in good time.
  • The application form allows applicants to select up to 3 institutions and is only for applications to full time courses. Applications for part time variants should be made directly to the institution concerned.
  • There is a requirement to attach undergraduate degree transcripts. Referees will also be needed so please check in advance who that will be and brief them accordingly.

Applications for any exemptions to the GDL should be addressed to the institutions themselves.

Institutions select on the basis of academic achievement and motivation as shown in the personal statement and references. Most successful applicants will have at least a 2:1 and evidence of suitability for their intended career. Some institutions will give preference to those who can demonstrate good reason for their need to study at that particular institution, e.g. studying near home.

Where to do your GDL?

Most employers are not overly concerned where you do the conversion course, but some of the leading City practices do now require their future trainees to study at their preferred institution. They are likely to be more concerned with regard to the LPC – a factor you might like to discuss with them, should you hope to complete a training contract (PRT) with them.

There are no independent assessments available. However, you may wish to consider some of the following factors in your decision making:

  • Academic rigour – talk to tutors and students, check out destinations, use the Quality Assurance Agency for general institution reviews.
  • Teaching & assessment methods used.
  • Geographical location.
  • Cost of course and opportunities for funding or financing from the provider.
  • Preference of law firms that you may be seeking to apply to for a training contract (PRT).
  • Study options – many providers offer part time and study mode options including distance learning.
  • Reputation of their LPC and destination data of its students.
  • Access to the profession, careers fairs and events, general careers support and work experience/work.

Any self-respecting course will encourage you to visit and be happy to provide more information. Many also hold open days - now available virtually

Be aware that it is not a requirement to have a training contract (PRT) before commencing the GDL. Indeed the vast majority of students starting the course do not have training contracts (PRTs) arranged. However, you are advised to review your own circumstances and assess your tolerance of risk.

Senior Status Degrees

An alternative for non-Lawyers to the GDL is to take a two-year Senior Status Law Degree, which includes the seven ‘Foundations of Legal Knowledge’ but which allows for more in depth study and greater choice of subjects. This course is available at some 28 institutions on a full-time basis, with some on a part-time basis also. These include the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, City, Leeds, London (including Birkbeck), Oxford, Sheffield and Cardiff. Contact the relevant Law Faculty for application procedures and prospectuses.

For these courses application is normally made via UCAS, but check with each institution. For Oxford and Cambridge the 15th October deadline will apply. Do also check with the institution the fee level charged as this course is second first-degree-level course and thus is not eligible for the same types of government funding as first degrees.

Legal Practice Courses

  • A central clearing system also operates for full-time courses with applications made via the CAB. All relevant institutions will be detailed on this website and the information kept up-to-date.
  • As with the GDL, there is no closing date, but a rolling timetable instead and we advise making applications in good time in the year before entry.
  • Completed applications made via the site will be released to the institutions weekly. Institutions can then respond with offers from then on, although some may be able to turn round their offers more quickly than others.
  • Applicants are advised to carry out their own research on the institutions that they wish to apply to and read the guidance notes on the CAB website to ensure they include all relevant information on the form. Transcripts and references will be required.
  • All part-time applications should go directly to the course provider.
  • Institutions apply the same kind of selection criteria as for the GDL.
  • The vast majority of employers prefer their trainees to attend a specific course. If you have started your LPC and then secure a training contract (PRT) during the course, your employer may decide to switch you into their preferred institution or to let you remain, often depending on how far into the course you have progressed. You are perfectly free to apply to any firm for a training contract (PRT), even if you have already started your LPC in their non preferred institution.
  • Some employers may insist that their trainees select the optional courses (electives) that are appropriate for their practice. It is always worth checking the views of employers on this issue.
  • If you are a non-law student you will find that most institutions which offer both a conversion course (GDL) and the LPC will guarantee a place to those who pass their conversion course.

Please note: If you think you have any “character & suitability issues” that may affect your ability to qualify as a solicitor then we strongly advise that you contact the SRA approximately 6 months before starting the LPC to allow the SRA time to follow their procedures.

Future Changes to Qualification: The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)

The SRA have now announced introduction of a new system for qualification as a solicitor which will ultimately replace the current route. The new route which has a target date of Autumn 2021 will comprise of  new, centralised  Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE1 and SQE2) along with different regulations concerning law degrees, GDLs, LPCs and Training Contracts (PRTs).

From 2021 (target date), to qualify as solicitor you will need:

  1. A degree (or equivalent)
  2. To have passed SQE 1 (legal knowledge & application of it) and SQE 2 (practical legal tasks)
  3. To have completed 24 months of legal work experience
  4. To be of satisfactory suitability and  character

Some Perspectives:

  • 2021 is the earliest date for implementation of SQE - this might change! It could go back; a final decision is expected from the Legal Services Board by the end of October 2020.  There will be transitional arrangements though.
  • GDL, Exempting Law degrees and CPEs will continue to be validated by the SRA for the academic year 2021/22. Students must have accepted an offer for one of these courses on or before 31/8/21 for courses which start on or before 31/12/21. After this date, these types of courses will not be validated by the SRA (except in some exceptional circumstances) as it will no longer be a requirement to have this specific type of law degree.
  • It is likely that in time (years), the GDL and LPC will cease to exist as they are no longer requirements for qualification. It is likely that new courses will emerge to help students (law and non law) prepare for the SQE 1 & 2. BPP have just announced a new PGDL which will replace their current GDL (applications for this are opening in Autumn 2019 for 2020 start dates).Barbri have also announced their new SQE Prep tests for law and non law students.
  • There will be transitional arrangements for anyone who is already in the system eg who has started a law degree, a GDL, an LPC or a Training Contract (PRT) This arrangement will allow people to continue to qualify in the existing (old) system - assuming that the old courses (GDL/LPC) are still in existence and validated.
  • The full extent to which law firms will amend their trainee recruitment and training programmes is not yet known. Early indications say that law firms will not hurry into the new system and are likely to maintain all their usual recruitment practices for the 2020/21 cycle. Some want to plan so they will have all their trainees on the same system at the same time so as to reduce confusion.Larger firms are now posting up SQE messages on their websites and 6 firms (Freshfields,  Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright and Slaughter and May have announced The City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme.  This will most likely affect trainees who apply for training contracts in 2020/21 which start in 2023.  
  • Firms will still want to welcome "non lawyers" into their practices just as before.
  • It is likely that some firms may want trainees who come through SQE to take additional study modules specific to their businesses - in the past these would have been the LPC elective subjects which are not now covered on SQE 1 or 2.
  • Firms who currently pay for the GDL and LPC are likely to also pay for the SQE 1 and 2 although this is yet to be confirmed officially.
  • Some firms are considering asking future trainees to sit SQE 1 immediately followed by SQE 2 and then complete the work experience to reduce the amount of time that trainees are not in their businesses.
  • Deloitte have announced ( Sept '19) that they will be hiring legal trainees for the first time and that their training contract will be fully in line with the new SQE qualification route.
  • It is likely that in time the "equivalent means" and "QLTS" routes to qualification will be replaced by SQE although these details are not yet finalised. Any regulations for EU lawyers will need to be compliant with any post Brexit rules. Exemptions to SQE may come into force for lawyers qualified outside England & Wales but these details are still to be decided.
  • The legal work experience requirements will mean that this can be completed in up to 4 different settings and in a great variety of employers than currently provide training contracts (PRTs). It is likely that we will see changes to Training Contracts (PRTs) but it is very early days to know what this might look like.
  • The cost of the SQE exams have been set at £1558 (SQE 1) and £2422 (SQE 2) with the first sittings of the exams available in November 2021 (SQE 1) and April 2022 (SQE 2).  Bear in mind that this is only the cost for sitting the exam and that if you decide to take the prep courses there will be additional costs to do so. Prep courses are neither mandatory nor regulated but it is likely that non lawyer students and even Oxford law students may need them to be able to pass SQE successfully. This is due to i) not all SQE subjects and the practical application of them being covered on the Oxford Law degree ii) the need for non lawyers to study law and iii) the type of multiple choice questions in the tests.   All providers will charge differently but as an example, the newly launched Barbri prep courses are priced at £2999 each for SQE 1 and SQE 2 (Total £5998).  So, to prepare and then take all the costs would be around £9978 compared to the current costs of say a GDL at £12,000 (London location)  and an LPC at £17,000 (London location).

Your action:

  • When you meet law firms in Oxford, ask them if they intend to make any changes to their recruitment for those applying in 2020/21 and read their websites for any SQE plans which have already been announced.
  • Steer your main focus towards thinking about your motivations for being a solicitor and for the firms you may be interested in. In many cases, the law firms will take care of the qualification details for you and will let you know which system they intend to put you through for their firm.
  • Discuss any concerns you have with your law Careers Advisers.  


Training contracts - PRTs

Trainees in solicitors’ practices are known as ‘Trainee Solicitors’. There are approximately 5,800 opportunities each year to undertake training contracts (PRTs). 5811 were registered in 2017/18 a slight increase on the previous year. There are no guarantees that this number will remain static for the 2020/21 recruitment year.

The SRA requires trainees to have experience of at least three distinct areas of English and Welsh law and practice, to meet develop the relevant skills (including contentious and non contentious ones) and to complete the Professional Skills Course. Most trainees will have four six-month ‘seats’ (though the number may vary between practices and a few firms don’t have rotational seats). This period of training (training contract) is compulsory for qualification as a solicitor and is also a critical experience to help you decide on your future specialisation. Many of the global firms will also offer the opportunity to take a seat in a different jurisdiction or as a client secondment.

94% of training contracts (PRTs) lie in the private practice sector, with the majority being found in commercially orientated firms. These practices recruit early (many two years before the start date), while many smaller and High Street practices will recruit nearer the time of entering work.

Remember that many of the commercial firms recruit a high proportion ( between c 50-100%) of their future trainees from their vacation schemes. So, securing a scheme and doing well on it can put you in a very strong position to be offered a training contract (PRT) interview and offer with that firm.

The remaining 6% of positions are to be found in the Government Legal Profession (which follows the two years ahead system), local government, HM Courts Service, legal departments in commerce and industry and quangos.

Applications for Training Contracts (PRTs)

The Voluntary Code of Recruitment for Trainee Solicitors, lays down some best practice guidelines for the recruitment timetable and the offering and acceptance of training contracts (PRTs). The aim of the Code is to allow students to have sufficient time to research this career option fully, to consider any offers of work without undue pressure and to ensure diversity of recruitment in the profession.

Under the provisions of the Code, firms are able to:

  • make offers (of Training Contracts - PRTs) to law and non law students during their penultimate year of study but students will be given up until September 15th of their final year to decide whether to accept any offers or not (for firms who adopt this code)
  • allow final year students and graduates up to 4 weeks to accept their offers.

This is a major change to the way many offers were made in the past. Previously offers were most often given to penultimate year students on September 1st of their final year of undergraduate study and not before - so all offers arrived at the same time. As a result of the increased flexibility that the new Code allowed we have seen law firms make offers earlier in the academic life of a student. Please be vigilant to this as you may get  into a position where you receive an offer before you have had a chance to research or experience all that you need to in order to make a sensible decision. There is likely to be increased flexibility around when in your academic career you can apply for vac schemes and training contracts and you will need to decide the best approach for your own personal situations and goals.

Under the Code there are also suggestions for students too! Student should:

  • Give law firms at least 48 hours notice if they are unable to attend a vacation scheme or Training Contract interview.
  • Accept offers within the time frames offered
  • Inform other law firms you may have applied to once you have accepted the Training Contract (PRT) of your choice. Refrain from applying to other firms once you have accepted an offer.

Not all firms will be aware of or sign up to this Code of good practice.

Law Students

Many commercial firms, who offer approximately 70% of training contracts (PRTs) in any year are likely to be making training contract (PRTs) offers for two years ahead, i.e. offers made in the year 2020/21 will be for training contracts (PRTs) that begin in September 2023/March 2024. It is vital to apply in good time and make sure your applications are received by the firms of your choice well in advance of the closing date. Check individual firms’ opening and closing dates.

Non-Law Students

Nearly all firms, and in particular the commercial ones, also recruit non law students – up to 50% of their trainee cohort in some cases and also 2 years in advance of the start date. Firms will state the timing for when they would like to receive applications from non law students in their careers brochures and/or on their websites - it can be different for non law students (and even those with a law degree which is not a qualifying law degree for England and Wales) although this is getting less common. Some of the larger City of London firms have closing dates in Dec/January/February for non law students only  but others still have the end of June/July in the year of graduation as their closing  date. Bear in mind that some firms may fill some of their trainee positions throughout the year so make sure that you are fully aware of the recruitment schedule for your firms of choice to give yourself the best chance of success. Firms often try to recruit non law students for both vacation schemes and training contracts (PRTs) whilst the student is in their final year of study but it could now be earlier.

Law and Non Law

Firms may open their training contract (PRT) opportunities as early as August/Sept and may start interviewing (and making offers) as early as November. You are advised to carefully consider your readiness for applying directly for a training contract.  The law careers publications publish such information regularly. However, you must check the websites of the firms (or call the law firm’s graduate recruitment team directly) to double check the process that exists  so that you can apply at the appropriate time for your circumstances and to give yourself the best chance.

Other organisations (such as the BBC and sometimes the CPS) as well as small commercial practices, and most High Street firms specialising in matrimonial or criminal work or other personal law areas, will recruit trainees only during the year prior to the training period, i.e. while students are doing the LPC, or even for an immediate start. Bear in mind that these places are highly sought after by the large number of LPC students still without a training contract (PRT). Competition for these vacancies is at least as tough as for other areas of the law, with firms looking for evidence and suitability as strongly as the commercially orientated practices.

It is probably worth making the point here that gaining a postgraduate qualification in law, e.g. LLM, may be useful for some specialist firms, but such qualifications are not generally sought by recruiting firms at trainee entry level, and should be viewed as providing you with scope for personal development, not as a means to improve upon a poor first-degree result for recruitment purposes.

Whether a law or non law candidate, bear in mind that it is important to apply when you are confident that you are making the right decision, that you are well-prepared, and that you are able to make a ‘good’ application. The competition is very strong and should you make a weak or ill-prepared application it is unlikely that you will succeed. Pay special attention to your grammar and spelling. Should you be unsuccessful, it is possible in many cases to re-apply the following year, but you’ll need to show considerable improvement in your profile. Depending on the stage you reached, reapplication may not always be possible, so you must check with the firms to find out their policies.

Many, if not most, graduate recruitment managers are prepared to respond to reasonable requests for information or queries about the processes involved, beyond what is available via their websites and other sources. They are important contacts in the process of recruitment.

Timetable for Action Academic year 2020/21

Second-year Law students, or Law finalists deferring entry

  • Summer Term 2021: Make full use of the vacation schemes, but note the point about interviews. As a consequence you may need to make yourself available during the late summer months.
  • Summer Term 2021: Consider any job offers that are made to you, remember that if the law firms are signatories to the Code of Conduct, you will have sufficient time to complete all your vacation schemes and think through your offers carefully before making your decision by 15th September. Remember you need to abide by the Code too!
  • Michaelmas Term 2021: Apply for LPC courses as appropriate from now on ( or follow guidance from your firm with regard to the SQE), as applications are made on a rolling basis throughout the year. Check with your provider if you need to apply by a certain time to be eligible for their awards or bursaries. Plan your financial arrangements for the course. Continue with research/applications for training contracts (PRTs) or vacation schemes as necessary and for smaller, general practice firms.
  • Hilary Term 2022: Contact the SRA if you think you have character & suitability issues.

Four-year ‘Course Two’ law students

Make full use of events and careers support in your (first and) second years, attending the Law Fair and the presentations so as to be as informed as possible about firms of interest and the most suitable moment for applications for vacation schemes and training contracts (PRTs). Increasingly there is flexibility about when you can apply for and complete a vacation scheme. Some firms allow you to apply during your second year and then complete the scheme at the end of the second year or defer it to the summer between your third and fourth years. Some still only allow you to apply for and complete your scheme during your third year. Training contract (PRT) applications would usually be made during your third year with interviews in the August/September (possibly earlier) just ahead of the start your fourth and final year. Again, please check with each firm so that you know when to apply. Some firms may be happy to conduct initial interviews by Skype or use video interview which can be done from anywhere. For final rounds or assessments they usually need to see you in person.

Perhaps also consider the possibility of trying to visit practices’ offices in the country you are studying in during your third year. The Careers Service does offer virtual appointments for students on this course whilst you are abroad should you need assistance.

First year Law Students:

When you arrive in Oxford you will have many new challenges to face.  You will need to get to grips with your (new) subject and the new learning environment amongst other things.  You don't need to worry about vacation schemes or training contracts at this stage!  You will hear lots about them though from your fellow students in higher year groups and you will find that many firms will visit your Colleges and invite you to events.  It is entirely up to you whether you attend or not as these  it will not affect your ability to secure a vacation scheme or training contract at a later date.

You will also hear much about first year schemes which will happen at Easter ( deadlines often in Michaelmas or early Hilary).     Again, it is up to you as to whether you feel ready to consider these but please know that there will be many more opportunities to apply for these types of experiences at a later date.   Please do not forget to prioritise your first year exams as law firms increasingly look at the grades you achieve in these exams when you apply for formal vacation schemes and training contracts (PRTs).  If you are at all worried, then please book an appointment with a Careers Adviser - we will be happy to talk things through with you.

Non-Law Students (undergraduates or graduates)

Final year

This tends to be the year when law firms target non law students;  students in this year are able to move through the various stages of qualification (GDL, LPC and Training Contract /PRT) without a significant gap if they are hired during their final year of studies. This usually means less risk for law firms in hiring so far in advance. It is, of course, possible to hired in the years after you graduate.

  • Michaelmas Term 2020: Rigorously assess your motivation/skills to become a solicitor. Attend careers events, presentations and fairs. Research and apply early (as soon as they open) for the Christmas vacation work experience/workshop schemes and open days. Applications for the GDL can be made on a rolling basis throughout the year, so visit some of the providers to get a sense of what they offer. Apply online as appropriate. Check for application dates for training contracts (PRTs), especially with larger City firms (some are in Dec/January) and apply as appropriate.
  • November/December 2020: Apply in good time for Easter/Summer work experience (closing dates are usually early to mid Dec/ January but we don’t advise leaving your application this late) and open days/workshops.
  • Hilary Term 2021: End of January: closing date for some training contracts (PRTs) applications. Attend interviews for training contracts (PRTs)/vacation schemes as appropriate.
  • Trinity Term 2021: Continue to make training contract (PRT) applications / attend interviews as necessary.
  • Summer Vacation 2021: Attend interviews as arranged.

Penultimate year

Try to gain some insights into legal work. Increasingly firms will accept applications for formal vacation schemes and even offer training contracts to penultimate year students. This number could increase  but please consider carefully if this is the right course of action and right career for you. You may find yourself having to decide about an offer earlier than you anticipated and before you have had a chance to properly research and consider other firms. Otherwise seek opportunities in local firms and other legal and advisory environments for work shadowing/experience. Make full use of opportunities in Oxford, e.g. events run by the student and college law societies, networking and possible open days. Consider also gaining any other work experience, especially of a commercial nature.


This can be a major issue, especially if you are looking to train in a smaller, less commercial firm. The cost of fees and living expenses need to be considered if you are without the support of a law firm.   It is perfectly acceptable to ask a law firm what sort of support they can offer for post-graduate law courses (GDL and LPC). The arrival fo SQE will hopefully improve this situation.

  • Sponsorship - most commercial firms that take trainees will offer some form of sponsorship to their future trainees. Many firms, particularly the larger, offer a grant to cover fees for GDL and LPC as well as up to about £7,000 a year living expenses. The legal directories, newspapers/magazines below and firms’ websites give details about their policies.
  • Bursaries and Scholarships - There are now a number of awards given by the law course providers and these are definitely worth investigating as competition and entry requirements are not as onerous as you may think.
  • Local Authority Grants - LEAs do not normally award discretionary grants for training for the legal profession, but you may wish to check with your education authority.
  • Law Society Bursaries - The Law Society has a fund to disburse annually for sponsorship and for diversity. Applications usually open in January and there are approximately 50 available. Applicants must usually have a place on the LPC before applying. Details for 2021 will usually be on the Law Society website by the end of December 2020.
  • Government Post Graduate Student Loan for Masters Courses - New from 2016, are the Government's student loans for masters students.  These allow students to borrow up to £11,222 and repayment is on a very similar system to the undergraduate loans scheme in that you only start to pay back the loan when you are earning over £21,000 p.a. These are only for masters level qualifications, so there will be some LPC LLMs (as well as other LLMs) which may meet the criteria, but not all. You need to check with your LPC provider.
  • Bank Loans – Some of the High Street banks and specialist banks offer loans for students on specific LPC courses. Contact your local bank branch or LPC institution for details of their student loan schemes.
  • Professional and Career Development Loans - These are government-backed. Visit the UK Government website and use Freephone 0800 100 900 to call the National Careers Service for advice on these loans. Unfortunately these loans are not available for the GDL course.
  • Trusts/Charities - There may be a few charitable trusts that are prepared to consider applications for financial help towards vocational training.
  • Personal Funds - It is not unknown for individuals to finance their training through savings and personal borrowing. Do get some feedback on your chances of ultimate success before you commit yourself to high levels of debt. A part-time GDL / LPC, alongside a job, could be an option worth considering.


The following books are available to read in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

Unlocking Company Law, Susan McLaughlin
Understanding the Law, Geoffrey Rivlin
What about law?, Catherine Barnard et al
Law Uncovered, Margaret McAlipine
Intellectual Property Law, David Bainbridge, Claire Howell
Oxford Dictionary of Law
Nutshells: Intellectual Property Law, Mark Van Hoorebeek
The law student’s handbook, Steve Wilson & Phillip Kenny
Getting into Law, Lianne Carter
Law of Torts Q&As 2013/14, David Oughton, Barbara Harvey
Employability Skills for Law Students, Emily Finch & Stefan Fafinski
Concentrate: Contract Law, Jill Poole
Land Law, John Duddington
Glanville Williams: Learning the Law, A.T.H. Smith
Human Rights, A Very Short Introduction, Andrew Chapman
International Law, Vaughan Lowe
A guide to International Law Careers, Anneke Smit, Christopher Waters, 2015
EU Law, Ewan Kirk
EU Competition law, Ariel Ezrachi
Working in Law 2014, Charlie Phillips
Know the City 2013/4, Christopher Stoakes
Commercial Awareness 2015/16, Christopher Stoakes
Is Law for you?, Christopher Stoakes
Jurisprudence Q&As, David Brooke
IFIR 1000 - The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms, Lukas Becker
Tomorrow’s Lawyers, Richard Susskind
Rethinking Patent Law, Robin Feldman
Careers in International Law, Salli A Swartz, ed., 2013
Careers in International Law: A Guide to Career Paths in International Law 2013/14, D. Wes Rist
Eu Law Q&As 2013/14, Nigel Foster

  • What about Law? Studying Law at University, Catharine Barnard, Janet O'Sullivan and Graham Virgo 2016
  • Letters to a Law Student, Nicholas J McBride, 2013
  • First Steps in the Law, Geoffrey Rivlin, 2015


Many of the following have free online newsletters which you can sign up to.

  • The Lawyer - weekly
  • The Law Society Gazette - weekly
  • Lawyer 2B - quarterly (available from 56 Banbury Road only)
  • Counsel - monthly

Take-away material 

Collect the following material from our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road when we open, but for now, most of these are available online:

  • The Training Contract & Pupillage Handbook
  • Chambers Student Guide
  • The Lex 100
  • TARGETjobs Law
  • TARGETjobs Law Vacation Schemes & Mini Pupillages
  • TARGETjobs Law First: How to get hired.
  • TARGETjobs Pupillages Handbook (from April onwards)
  • Prospects Law
  • The Commercial Law Guide, Gateway

General Job Sites

Legal Internship, Job and Volunteering Sites

Law Careers and News

  • The Lawyer – Sector news for the profession (free newsletters)
  • The Lawyer 2B – News and information designed especially for students
  • Legal Week – News relating to the legal profession (free newsletters)
  • Chambers Student Guide – Law firm and chambers information, designed for students
  • All About Law – Inside information, tips and advice, plus discussion and blogs from trainees, pupils and lawyers, a find a training contract section and a jobs board. Also see “The Principle” – their publication on legal news and commercial matters
  • Law  - Careers advice for solicitors and barristers, including “Find a training contract”  and vacation scheme search facility. Also useful for searching for "in-house" training contracts
  • Skills for Justice: Legal Services – Very useful for an up to date overview of the legal market
  • Legal Futures – Useful legal market information provide by legal journalist Neil Rose (free newsletter)
  • Student Finance – For information on the Professional and Career Development Loans and post graduate student loans
  • Prospects: Law
  • Prospects: Options – Law
  • Solo: Lawtel – A huge online resource from the Bodleian for news articles, legal journals, case comments and much more. Select OXLIP+Databases, then Lawtel
  • The student Law Society at Oxford
  • Supreme Court – Speedy case news, judgements and summaries
  • Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) (some free resources) – Summaries of recent cases of importance in the High Court and appellate courts
  • BAILII – Free (British and Irish) case law
  • The Justice Gap – Highlights issues relating to ordinary people in their daily lives. Contributions from a wide range of legal professionals.
  • Inner Temple Library – Legal journals, case reports, blogs and so on
  • The Lawyer Portal - Useful information and a searchable database for vacation schemes and training contracts
  • Lexology - legal newsfeed
  • Institute of Art and Law - latest news from this practice area.

Legal Training

  • LawCABs – Central Applications Board applications for full time GDL and LPC
  • - Legal publisher’s site; one of the most comprehensive list of training contracts and firms offering vacation placements

Regulatory Bodies and Professional Associations

Publications and Directories

  • The Lawyer – weekly newspaper
  • HierosGamos – provides a directory of international law schools
  • Lexadin: Worldwide Law Guide – Worldwide Law Guide
  • Solicitors Online – the Law Society’s comprehensive directory of solicitors
  • SOLO – includes Lawtel, a huge on line resource from the Bodleian for news articles, legal journals, case comments and much more. Select OXLIP+Databases, then Lawtel
  • Legal 500 – another useful source on practices’ specialisations; international section. This is a client directory.
  • Chambers and Partners – legal publishers – a client directory

Other jurisdictions

A number of major graduate recruiters have policies and processes that are proactive in recruiting students and graduates from diverse backgrounds. To find out the policies and attitudes of employers that you are interested in, explore their equality and diversity policies and see if they are a Disability Confident employer or are recognised for their policy by such indicators as ‘Mindful Employer’ or as a ‘Stonewall’s Diversity Champion’.

Law firms are particularly active in this area and have well established programmes in place with long standing organisations such as Employ-Ability, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, RARE, the Sutton Trust and the BLD Foundation. These organisations provide support for vac scheme applicants from under representative backgrounds. In addition, new organisations are growing such as Aspiring Solicitors, which provides mentoring and CV/application help for any students in its target groups.

16.5% of those with practising certificates are from a BAME background and for the first time female practice certificate holders (50.1%) exceed their male colleagues. At entry level, over 63% of trainees are women.  There is still much work to be done at partner level though where only 8,241 in total are women.

The Law Society also operates its Lawyers with Disabilities Division. They regularly run a series of informative talks throughout the year to which students are usually invited for free.

In addition, the "Explore Law" event run every year in central London, is an event for students with disabilities or long term health conditions interested in finding out about internships and graduate positions in commercial law. See CareerConnect for details in Michaelmas.

The UK law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. For further information on the Equality Act 2010 and to find out where and how you are protected, and what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the Government’s website on discrimination.

Further resources:

CareerConnect VACANCIES

Looking for more?

Check the CareerConnect platform for all our upcoming events and opportunities, book appointments, find jobs and internships, and more.

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