Solicitors

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!

In a recent report conducted by KPMG, commissioned by the Law Society, The Legal Services industry was calculated to contribute £60bn (GVA) to the UK economy in 2018 when all legal services such as "in house" and general counsel were included alongside those working directly in the sector (The Contribution of the UK Legal Services to the UK Economy, KMPG, Jan 2020). Legal Services support around 552,000 full time employees - 1.7% of the UK's workforce.

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. 

Covid-19 (Summer 2021 Update)

Like many other businesses, law firms were in the news with the actions they took to protect themselves and their employees as much as possible for times both during and after the pandemic. Withholding partner dividends, reducing working hours for associates and redeploying or furloughing staff were all in the headlines across 2020. Court services were significantly reduced and jury trials were suspended for a time. The market has started to operate more normally and more recently firms have started to announce new working from home policies for their staff. Many firms are offering considerably more flexibility than pre pandemic. Many firms have continued their recruitment of trainees across 2020/21 at similar levels to before although recruitment processes, events and vacations schemes have all been online and remain so for the time being.  We expect firms to recruit again in the 2021/22 cycle although the numbers of trainees are not yet certain. Firms are also now contending with trying to integrate the new system of qualification so 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

The Solicitors Reulation Authority (SRA) has now confrmed the introduction of the new changes to qualification as a solicitor which include the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE) and this system will start to come in from September 2021.  The aim of the changes 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 through the centralised exams and the relaxation in regulation of law degrees.  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:there is a lengthy transition phase for anyone who has already started their law journey.  It will take time for legal employers and education providers to adapt too so again, keep yourslef updated. More details follow later in 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.

Brexit

It is still too early to judge the impact of the Brexit vote and how  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 available. 6,244 traineeships (training contracts) were registered in 2018/19, +9.2% more than in the previous year and significantly 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 2021/22.

Expand All

There are around 196,000 solicitors in England and Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland have separate systems), with about 147,000 holding practising certificates. At present, the majority (74%) 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 almost 30% today. These firms employ 34% 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 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.  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. Now that SQE has arrived this will facilitate a more flexible way to qualify as the "qualifying work experience" element allows you to build experience in up to 4 different places of work ( and either before or after taking the exams) rather than having to find a standard 2 year training contract.   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 an 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 available roles are usually listed on lawcareers.net 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 arrival SQE. We have already seen a number of London firms combine in a consortium to develop a new SQE training programme with legal education provider BPP.  At present though, many firms will continue to offer training contracts ( as the Qualifying Work Experience element of qualification) typically lasting 2 years and involving a variety of different rotations (known as “seats”). 

At qualifiation, 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 and 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 / trainee position.

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 many 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). 

Vacation Scheme applications will require similar effort to complete as the official training contract applications. Some firms may allow you to complete one form for both a vacation scheme and a training contract  whilst others will only allow you to apply for either a vacation scheme or a training contract/trainee position. 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 lawcareers.net 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 Forage 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 and become a solicitor.

In the vast majority of firms you can still apply for a training contract  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 (most of these are currently online).  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 Wednesday 20th October, 12.30-5.30 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 and it doesn't need to be within legal services. 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 an 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.

Qualifying as a solicitor - pre September 2021 - "The Law Degree/GDL/LPC Route"

You are most likely to qualify under this route if you have already started an undergraduate law degree, GDL, LPC or training contract prior to September 1st 2021. For first year law students arriving in Oxford in October  2021, you may also be able to follow this route if you accepted your offer of a place or paid a non refundable deposit prior to September 21st 2021 (inclusive). In all cases, continuation along this route will depend on the ongoing availability of existing post graduate courses and the routes that legal employers will adopt for their trainees.  Last year (2020/21 hires) we already started to see some firms moving future trainees to the SQE route and once firms start to move to the new system these traditional courses could disappear relatively quickly. 

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), sometimes 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 and more commonly still known as a Training Contract) 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.

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.  Application for part exemptions to the GDL should be requested of the provider. Full exemption to this course should be made to the SRA.
  • Applications can now be made for the GDL on a rolling basis across the year prior to entry so there is no 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.
  • 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 with SQE.

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 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 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
  • 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  before commencing the GDL. Indeed the vast majority of students starting the course do not have training contracts 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 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, 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.

Qualification as a solicitor - post September 1st 2021  - the "SQE Route"

The new route to qualification will be quite different to the old!  The aim of this new system is to open access to the profession partly by reducing costs of training and partly by making training more flexible.  At the same time, high standards can be assured through centrally set assessments which examine competence to practise.  There will be no regulation of the law degrees or post graduate law courses; instead there will be a centrally set and marked set of exams combined with a period of qualifying work experience (QWE).  Both law and non law students will still be able to qualify as solicitor as before but the courses and experiences you take on the way will look and sound different.  

From September 1st 2021 to qualify as solicitor you will need:

  1. A degree (or equivalent)
  2. To have passed SQE 1 (legal knowledge & application) and SQE 2 (practical legal tasks & knowledge)
  3. To have completed 24 months of full time (or equivalent) Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)
  4. To be of satisfactory suitability and  character

    Full details are on the SRA website

SQE 1&2 - what, when and how?

SQE 1

  • Will test your functioning legal knowledge (FLK) across two 5 hour assessments split over 2 days. The format is Single Best Answer multiple choice.   Content is similar to a Law degree/GDL. The first assessment covers Business Law & Practice, Dispute Resolution, Contracts, Tort, Legal Systems of England & Wales, Constitutional and Administrative Law, EU Law and egal Services.  The second assessment will cover Property Practice, Wills & the Administration of Estates, Solicitor Accounts, Land Law, Trusts, Criminal Law and Practice
  • Cost will be £1558.00
  • Tests can be taken at Pearson VUE test centres available across the UK and internationally
  • Results will follow in 6-10 weeks
  • Bookings are open from July 2021 and close on 26/9/21 and the first assessments will be in November 2021,the next in July 2022  

SQE 2:

  • Tests practical legal skills and draws in knowledge covered in SQE 1. Content is similar to the first half of an LPC.  SQE 2 comprises 14 hours of exams taken over 5 half days.   Exams cover client interviewing and attendance notes, legal analysis, advocacy, case & matter analysis, legal research, writing and drafting, negotiating in the following:Criminal Litigation, Dispute Resolution, Property Practice, Wills & Intestacy, Probate Administration, Business Organisations, rules and procedures. 
  • You must pass SQE 1 before attempting SQE 2.
  • Cost will be £2,422
  • Written assessments can be taken at Pearson VUE test centres. SQE 2 oral assessments can only be taken in Manchester, London and Cardiff initially.
  • The first assessments will be in April 2022, the booking date is still pending and the next window will be October 2022.
  • Results available 14-18 weeks afterwards.

    3 attempts can be made at both SQE 1 and SQE 2.
    Anyone wishing to sit the tests must first register on the SRA SQE website prior to booking assessments.

Preparing for your SQE exams

Unlike in the old system of qualification there is no mandatory or regulated legal study requirement for entering into the SQE.  Gone is the concept of a "qualifying law degree" with its compulsory courses. In its place though are a plethora of different types of preparatory course options - many with different titles, duration, format and costs and being offered by new and different providers.   It is likely that you may want to consider taking some preparatory course even if you have studied law before although it is not compulosry to do so. This might be because the law you have studied didn't cover the topics that will be assessed, or you may have studied law outside of the English & Welsh jurisdiction or you may just be very unfamiliar with the SQE1 exam technique of "single best" answer.  Deciding on which course is likely to depend on your own particular circumstances -   the type and amount of law you have already studied and the types of exam technique that you are used to and how you like to learn.  The exams are likely to be tough but it is early days to be able to know more.

Options may vary from a very short course (revision) together with exam practice which might be suitable for those with an undergraduate law degree through to law masters courses, suitable for law or non law undergraduates which cover all the preparation required for both SQE 1 & 2.  Studying a masters level course may also mean that you can apply for a government student loan.   Here are some examples of possible courses:

Example 1:College of Legal Practice offers a study programme of 2 units( SQE1 Preparation £1800, SQE 2 Preparation £2300, Legal Skills Modules from £800)

Example 2:University of Law offers LLM Legal Practice (eventually to replace their LPC)which prepares students for SQE 1 and 2 , £12,900 to £16,500

Example 3: Nottingham Law School: LLM in Law and Legal Practice ( for non law undergraduates) - incorporating SQE1 Preparation £12,000

Example 4: Barbri Preparation Courses for SQE 1  £2999 and SQE 2 £2999 ( variety of durations)

Remember that the cost of the courses does not include the costs of taking the exams (SQE 1&2)! Be on the look out for providers to offer discounts  to attract to you sign up with them but do your homework about the type of course you need given your circumstances and future career plans.

What to look out for when deciding on a course?

  • For SQE 1: does the content cover the 7 Foundations of Legal Knowledge subjects eg tort law, criminal law, administrative law, trust law, property law, EU law, constitutional law? Does it cover the vocational and practical legal subject areas (similar to stage 1 of the LPC)?  Are there regular and repeated opportunities to develop and be tested on single best answer papers in exam conditions?
  • For SQE 2: Does the content develop your core legal skills (written and oral) and allow you to practise them and receive feedback?

    In addition you may wish to look for employability and skill develpment opprtunities, format options (online, in person, duration, location etc), costs, opportunities for scholarships and bursaries, additional workshops on new areas such as leadership, revision and study guides and so on.

Application to SQE prep courses will still be through the Central Applications Board.  All course options are listed on their site

Qualifying Work Experience (QWE)

Under the new system there is still a requirement to have 24 months of work experience prior to qualification. This could be through a trainee position in a law firm which is just like the existing training contracts but it could look and feel quite different to this with some employers.  More flexibility has been introduced meaning that students will no longer have to rely on a training contract as the dominant form of experience. We expect them to continue - especially in large commercial firms but this new system should help those trying to build careers in areas such as crime, family and other legal aid funded work where traditionally there have been far fewer training places.

In future QWE:

  • Must be 24 months full time or equivalent and needs to give you the opportunity to develop the solicitor competencies (it will not assess your ability at those competencies as that is done by SQE 2)
  • Experience can take place before, between or after SQE 1 & 2 - although bear in mind that SQE 2 assesses practical legal skills likely to have been practised while on work experience!  Experience can be "banked" ie completed before you decide to complete the rest of any training.
  • Experience can be paid or volunteer and can take place in up to 4 different settings. These could be in a traditional law firm ie a training contract (as now) or could be done through a mix of student law clinics, placements, legal work in say a charitable organisation and paralegal work. Experience can happen in the UK or elsewhere.
  • All experience must be signed off by an SRA regulated solicitor or compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) 

    There is more information on the SRA website

Qualified Lawyers (ie from anywhere outside the English and Welsh jurisdiction)

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.

From September 1st 2021 any qualified lawyer who wishes to gain the qualification of solicitor has to follow the new SQE route to qualification by sitting the same SQE 1 & 2 exams. Qualified lawyers will not though, need to complete the qualifying period of work experience.   The Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS), which was set up for the assessment of international (and intra UK) lawyers seeking to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales, has now been phased out (except for those already booked to sit the exams). 

Details on what you need to do are on the SRA website, together with how to apply for any exemptions to SQE 1 and 2.  

As a result of the UK leaving the EU, there have also been changes for Registered European Lawyers - please consult the SRA website for the details of these changes.

Before embarking on requalification, ensure that you also speak to relevant personnel within law firms for information on how firms view and manage hiring qualified lawyers. They may or may not see requalification as a requirement, depending on the work you will be doing and the experience you have. If your post qualification experience is limited though (usually less than 2/3 years), a firm may suggest that you apply for a Training Contract.

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 student.immigration@admin.ox.ac.uk for specialist visa help.

Which route should I follow for qualification - GDL/LPC or SQE?

Some students may find themselves in the position of having to decide which of these two routes to follow. The SRA provide some guidance on this on the SRA website but it may come down to a mix of factors - timing, costs, job opportunities as they apply to you and your circumstances.  We will be happy to talk through your individual situations via a careers appointment.

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 2021/22 and read their websites for any SQE plans which have already been announced. Attend the many online events will will help you understand how firms will manage SQE.
  • 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

It will take some time for firms to redesign their training programmes to accommodate the new qualification steps. Although firms will have been aware of these changes for some time, much of the detail has only been finalised quite recently. Firms are also taking the opportunity to review their training to ensure it meets their needs more closely for today's lawyers and clients; the new, less regulated environment allows them to be more creative. The changeover to the new system is quite complex and brings new challenges in terms of training schedules, timings and so on and given that there is a transition period some firms have been waiting to see how things go before making firm commitments to future trainees. Here are some of the possibilities for completing your QWE.  

QWE: Training contracts 

We expect that training contracts - a period of 24 months of paid work with a law firm - will remain as one of the principal entry routes for the near future especially in firms who have traditionally offered these.   There were 6,344 training contracts in 2018/19 (+ 9.2% vs the previous year)  - a very buoyant looking picture but clearly not yet reflecting any post pandemic effects.  There are no guarantees that this number will remain at this high level for the 2021/22 recruitment year but large firms have been reasonably consistent in their recruitment.

The SRA requires that students must have opportunity to develop the solicitor compentencies during their QWE so firms will need to ensure that this is the case but firms may also add in bespoke training to suit their particular practice areas and clients. It is likely that trainees will still be given the opportunity to experience different practice areas in either a 4 or 6 month "seat" rotation before deciding where to specialise on qualification.    Many of the global firms will also offer the opportunity to take a seat in a different jurisdiction or as a client secondment.

At present 90% of training contracts 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 interview and offer with that firm.

The remaining 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.

Here are some examples of law firms offering training contracts which have incorporated the SQE route:

Example 1: City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme.  6 London firms (Herbert Smith Freehills, Slaughter and May, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, Linklaters and Freshfields) have grouped together to design a training programme for their future trainees in conjunction with BPP.  Trainees will complete SQE 1 and 2 before they join their firms for 2 years QWE - like a training contract.  NB students need to apply to each individual firm for training contracts - it is just the training that will be the same for all.

Example 2: Clifford Chance trainees will complete a PGDL (if a non lawyer) followed by the LLM in Legal Practice (with SQE 1 and 2) and the Clifford Chance  Plus Programme before completing their 24 months of QWE at the firm

Example 3: Reed Smith will introduce a Professional SQE in September 2022 that will incorporate the SQE into a masters level programme. Trainees will then start work part time in the firm while studying for the SQE.

 

We anticipate that firms who curretly pay for their trainees to complete the GDL/LPC will continue to support them to take the SQE and any preparatory courses required.

QWE: Graduate Solicitor Apprenticeships

We are already seeing that some organisations - law firms and others - are completely redesigning the way they train future solicitors. Programmes look a little similar to the way an accountant might be trained - that is by working, learning and studying concurrently.  These types of training programmes, covering around 32 months, are aimed at graduates and are often called "Level 7 apprenticeships or graduate legal appenticeships" or similar; organisations are often using money recouped from the Government's Appenticeship Levy to pay for them.  As you are able to start these almost as soon as you graduate it is more likely that  the applications for these will fall some time during your final year - but many firms have not yet update their websites for us to know for sure!  Here are some examples:

Example 1:  BBC Level 7 Graduate Legal Apprenticeship: Starts Feb 2022 (application have closed for this round), apprentices start an induction at the BBC Legal department then undertake block release study at the University of Law for 9 months until Autumn 2022. They then complete 24 months of QWE at the BBC including a secondment in private practice. Candidates can join the scheme straight after their law degree or GDL and start earning straight away.  Salary is £28,000, rising in £1500 stages until a maximum of £31,000 is reached.  This scheme replaces the BBC's  old Training Contract route.  Funding will be given for the SQE preparation but not any academic prerequisites. 

Example 2: DWF:Have announced that they will launch a Future Solicitor Apprenticeship. It is a 32 month programme and will replace their existing training contract scheme.  It starts with full time study at BPP, sitting SQE 1 then 24 months of QWE with DWF. Graduates can start to earn as soon as the programme begins. 

QWE: Other possibilities for work experience

Now that the new SQE route to qualification is here, you do not necessarily need to rely on either a traditional training contract or an apprentceship with one particluar employer to become a qualified solicitor. You will still need to complete the 24 months QWE but you can explore your options and try and secure your own experiences. Please read the section above on the requirements which still need to be met for qualification and read the SRA documents on this and on solicitor competencies.  Also bear in mind that this route is still very much in its infancy and you may prefer to still apply for traditional training contracts which will continue to offer "tried and tested" training in the vast majority of cases. However, for anyone who is not attracted to those, you can now be more creative in searching out alternative experiences with different types of employers.    

Time line and application tips

Vacation Schemes

  • Firms offer these during Winter (limited firms), Easter and Summer (many firms) vacations. Application dedlines for Winter Schemes are the end October/early November and Dec/January for the Easter/Summer ones.  Ideally submit your applications in good time and not just before the closing date! This will give you more options on suitable interview dates if you are successful.
  • Rolling applications - some firms will start to screen applicants and offer places well ahead of the closing dates - check with the firms that interest you.
  • Law students usually apply for schemes in their penultimate year and non law students in their final year (although it can be earlier). Some schemes are targeted at specific student groups so do check.  
  • Link to training contracts - if you have a successful vacaction scheme many law firms will ask you if you want to make a training contract application or offer you the chance for a training contract interview at the end of the scheme.  Some firms will hire a very high proportion of their trainess from their schemes (90-100% in some cases). This is why the process is so rigorous!
  • Opportunities for first years - there has been an increasing number of schemes aimed soley at first year students. These usually take place at Easter with applications opening in Dec/Jan. It is entirely up to you whether you attend these or not - it will not affect your ability to secure a vacation scheme or a training contract at a later date. Also bear in mind that the timings of these clash with your revision and exams if you are a law student and that firms will often request these grades to be at 2.1 level at least for future applications.
  • Rejection - it does happen!  Depending on the stage at which you were rejected firms are usually happy for you to still apply for a training contract in that same cycle / academic year.  This is because there are limited vacation scheme positions and some students are lucky enough to secure several - whereas students will ultimately only accept one training contract.  Soemtimes firms may offer you an open day instead - this is a good sign of interest so if you like the firm, go if you can.
  • Strategy - when applying for schemes, remember that this is a golden opportunity for you to check out the law firm, its culture, practice areas and so on so you may have a strategy to apply to several different types of firm to help you decide.  Allow plenty of time of deep research before completing your applications though.  

Training Contracts

  • Typically the medium and large law firms who offer training contracts recruit their trainees two years in advance to allow time for students to complete all the necessary post graduate study. In 2021/22 they will be hiring trainees to start with them in Sept 2024/March 2025. Smaller firms and other organisations may only hire one year ahead or for an immediate start.
  • There are two way to apply for a training contract - either via a vacation scheme as described above or directly for a training contract.  
  • Law students usually start applying at some point  during their penultimate year - either via a vacation scheme or directly for a training contract as appropriate to their circumstances
  • Non Law students usually apply in their final year of study - whether that be undergradtuate, masters or DPhil.
  • Applications can open as early as August, though more typically in September and close in Dec/Jan or even later in the year, June or July. Some firms have different application dates for law students - often an application window across May-June.  Be sure to check the dates and deadline for your firms of interest to give yourself the best chance of success.
  • Rolling applications - as with vacations schemes some firms will start to interview applicants long before the closimg date while others will wait until all the applications have been submitted and the closing date passed.  It is important to apply in good time but only when you are confident that you are making the right decision, that you are well prepared and that you can make an excellent application.
  • Rejection - if you are rejected it is usually possible to reapply to the same firm the following year but you will need to show some improvement in your profile. Depending on the stage you reached reapplication may not be possible, so do check the law firms' policies.
  • You don't have to apply on these timings (whether you are law or non law) many students wait until they have graduated or even after doing another job for a while. You just need to bear in mind some of the lengthy lead times.
  • If you are applying for a training contract firms will expect you to have a coherent  strategy of applications, to be extremely well researched and committed to this option.

    If at any point you would like to discuss you own plans for becoming a solicitor then please book an appointment with one of our Careers Advisers and we will be happy to help you navigate a path.

Funding

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, LPC or SQE preparation courses and exams). The arrival of SQE will hopefully improve this situation by lowering some of the costs.

  • 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 ,LPC  and most likely the SQE 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 2022 will usually be on the Law Society website by the end of December 2021.
  • 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 in Legal Practice which cater for SQE which may meet the criteria, but not all. You need to check with your 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 or a creative way to learn and earn under the new SQE route to qualification, perhaps alongside a job (which may also contribute to your QWE), could be an option worth considering.

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

Further Reading

You may find the following books useful

  • Understanding the Law, Geoffrey Rivlin
  • What about law?, Catherine Barnard et al
  • Law Uncovered, Margaret McAlipine
  • The law student’s handbook, Steve Wilson & Phillip Kenny
  • Getting into Law, Lianne Carter
  • Employability Skills for Law Students, Emily Finch & Stefan Fafinski
  • Glanville Williams: Learning the Law, A.T.H. Smith
  • Human Rights, A Very Short Introduction, Andrew Chapman
  • A guide to International Law Careers, Anneke Smit, Christopher Waters, 2015
  • 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
  • IFIR 1000 - The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms, Lukas Becker
  • Tomorrow’s Lawyers, Richard Susskind
  • 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
  • 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

Journals

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 
  • Counsel - monthly

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.net  - 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)
  • Gov.uk: 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.
  • BBC Legal Department Podcast, "Not  all lawyers have law degrees"

Legal Training

  • LawCABs – Central Applications Board applications for full time GDL, LPC and SQE courses
  • LawCareers.net - 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

Recruiters are keen to have a diverse workforce and many will have policies and processes that are proactive in recruiting students and graduates from diverse backgrounds. An increasing number of recruiters are offering traineeships, internships and Insight events and many are being recognized for their approach to being inclusive employers. To find out the policies and attitudes of the recruiters that you are interested in, explore their equality, diversity and inclusion policy. Search their website to see if they have any specific staff networks, look out for external accreditation such as whether they are a Disability Confident employer, a Stonewall Diversity Champion or part of the Mindful Employer charter promoting mental health at work. A key place to look is to see what they do to celebrate diversity on their Facebook and Twitter pages..

Law firms are particularly active in this area of diversity and have well established programmes in place with long standing organisations such as Employ-Ability (disability and neurodifference), Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, RARE Recruitment, 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 Equality Act 2010 has a number of protected characteristics to prevent discrimination due to your age, disability,  gender reassignment, race, religion or beliefs, sex 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 webpages on discrimination.

Further resources:

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