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Solicitors | The Careers Service Solicitors – Oxford University Careers Service
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About this sector

Life as a solicitor is a real challenge; you will need to continually keep abreast of changes happening in the law and each new case you work on will be a real test of your skills. 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 paperwork. You will need plenty of dedication and perseverance, but the work is varied so it certainly won’t get boring!

The legal landscape

This sector is worth £26bn in the UK 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 undergoing significant changes.

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, but 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:

Changes to Legal Education, Training and Qualification

In 2013 a  major review in legal education and training was published by Professor Julian Webb at Warwick University. It  reported on whether the current system for training and regulation for solicitors, barristers and legal executives was still fit for purpose in the changing legal market. A series of recommendations were made on areas such as widening access to the profession, professional development and greater flexibility in training. In response to this, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) launched its “Training 4 Tomorrow” initiative and this has resulted in their announcement in April 2017, following 2 major consultations, that the the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) will be introduced in September 2020 (earliest). The Legal Services Board has now (March 2018) given its approval to the first stage of these changes to the solicitor qualification.  Once fully implemented, the reforms 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. The first ABS to be licensed by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) was not a law firm, but a retailer, the Co-Operative Group who used the ABS License status to offer family law services to the public. There are now 600 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 to 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. The rest of the market is watching with interest.


It is still too early to judge how the Brexit vote will affect trainee recruitment or the type of work done by solicitors as there are other significant factors  such as the increase in paralegals as well as new routes to qualification ( i.e. solicitor apprenticeships, “Equivalent means” and ultimately SQE) which might affect trainee numbers.  You are advised to keep up to date by reading the news, legal publications and talking to recruiters and lawyers.

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)

The last 3 years have been relatively buoyant in terms of the numbers of training contract (PRTs) available.  5719 training contracts were registered in 2016/17, an almost identical number to the previous year  and well ahead of the recession low of 4874 in 2009. Retention rates have also improved.

Types of job

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 always 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. Even though these 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. There are a number of large city firms who already offer an entry point for international LLM students who wish to return to their home jurisdictions on completion of their studies.

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 – up to c. £41-42,000+ – to their trainees.

On qualification rates will also vary: in the City from c. £50,000 to the highest to date of £90,000+. 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.

Entry points

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.

Changes to the current system

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

1. The Training Contract becomes the Period of Recognised Training – PRT

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 And 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 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. 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. 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).

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.

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

In April 2016 the SRA announced, after 2 lengthy consultations, that it had decided to introduce a new system for qualification as a solicitor which will ultimately replace the current route. The new route which has a target date of 2020 for full implementation 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 2020 (actual date is still to be confirmed), 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:

  • 2020 is the earliest date for implementation of SQE – this might change! It could go back. However, if it remains as 2020, anyone who starts a law degree or GDL from September 2020 onwards must qualify in the new system.
  • The SRA will cease to regulate Qualifying Law Degrees (QLDs) 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.
  • There will be transitional arrangements for anyone who is already in the system eg has already started a law degree, a GDL, an LPC or a Training Contract (PRT) at the time of the change which will allow them to qualify in the old system.
  • How law firms will react to this is not yet known – but it is likely that they will provide their own trainees with relevant options for qualification nearer the time.
  • 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 experince 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.

Your Action

  • Read the SRA announcement and the report on the changes (which makes the 2020 date clear) and keep up to date as further changes are announced – especially if you are a first or second year (law or non law) or qualified outside England & Wales
  • When you meet law firms in Oxford, ask them if they intend to make any changes to their recruitment for those applying in 2018/19 or to their 2021 start date Training Contracts (PRTs)
  • Discuss any concerns you have with your law Careers Advisers

Applying to courses

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.

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.

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.
• 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.
• From 2014 onwards, you no longer need to be a student member of the SRA before starting the LPC.

However, 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.

Paralegals, Legal Assistants and Legal Executives

Paralegal and legal assistant are entry-level jobs in law firms which do not usually require a legal qualification.  Paralegal roles may ask for previous legal study (e.g. a Law degree/GDL and increasingly you need an LPC to be competitive), whereas legal assistant roles can be more flexible as the roles tend to be more administrative than legal in nature. They can be helpful roles for recent graduates who are keen to gain paid experience in the legal sector, but haven’t yet embarked on training. They are also found in ‘in-house’ legal departments in a wide range of different types of organisation from commercial firms to local councils.

Training as a Legal Executive is an option for those in paralegal and legal assistant roles, and provides a route for ‘learning while you’re earning’-style training which is highly flexible, and leads to a status as a ‘Chartered Legal Executive’ fee-earner. After reaching this stage, Chartered Legal Executives who have not ever studied a LPC can pursue ‘dual qualification’ as a solicitor through the SRA if they choose. There is no need to take a training contract.

This route might suit you well if you want to study while you earn in a highly flexible way – with lower overall costs – and you’re keen to work in one of the following practice areas: civil litigation, company and partnership law, conveyancing, criminal litigation, employment law, family law or probate.

Salaries are generally lower for Chartered Legal Executives compared with solicitors – in the South of England, graduate members of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives earned £22,000 – £36,000 in the most recent salary survey. Those who were fellows of the institute earned £28,00 – £45,000+. For more information on the Legal Executive route see the CILEx website for information on the Graduate Fast-track Diploma, or the general training information.

Skills & experience

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. 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 by IT Services or through
  • 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. 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 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 it is possible that firms will start to open these freely to penultimate year non-lawyers (especially as firms are now able to make training contract offers to penultimate year undergraduates – see section on Training Contracts). Closing dates for Christmas schemes tend to be in late October, while official closing dates for Easter/Summer placements are often between the end of December and late January. Usually, early in the Christmas vacation is usually a good time to apply to Easter/Summer schemes as you will have had time to meet the firms in person and be freed somewhat from academic pressure. However, it is vital that you check the deadlines with each firm and clarify whether they interview applicants ahead of their 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.

An increasing number of firms interview and even run assessment days for their schemes, sometimes upon receipt of application before the official closing date. 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 3 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.

Increasingly large London firms are offering mini vacation schemes to first year law students for the Easter Vacation, but the vast majority are aimed at 2nd years, finalists and graduates.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 schemes for students with an ethnic minority background and those with a disability, e.g. Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London and Employ-Ability.

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

Many firms provide opportunities to visit them on one of their Open Days.  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 Open Days. These are also 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

There is always plenty of opportunity to meet law firms, trainees, associates and partners when they visit Oxford to make their formal presentations or to run skills workshops, competitions and business games. Firms will be here in force during Michaelmas term in particular, and over 60 firms will attend our annual Law Fair in November. Joining the University’s Law Society or your College’s Law Society will provide further opportunities for you to talk with solicitors, to find out how firms differ and to acquire hints and tips for applications.

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. The Careers Service runs the Oxford Careers Network with over 120 lawyers that you can contact for help, but many colleges also 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. You can also  register on the University’s new alumni database – the Oxford Alumni Community. This will allow you to search for Oxford alumni too.

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.

You might like to apply to the Law Faculty’s “Oxford Legal Assistance” programme”(open to all) or “Pro Bono Publico” (graduate students and faculty members). Any of these can lend themselves very well to building relevant skills.

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.

Getting a job

Training contracts – PRTs

Trainees in solicitors’ practices are known as ‘Trainee Solicitors’. There are approximately 5,000 opportunities each year to undertake training contracts (PRTs). 5719 were registered in 2016-17 roughly the same as the previous 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.

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)

Voluntary Code for the Recruitment of Trainee Solicitors

The Voluntary Code of Recruitment for Trainee Solicitors, lays down some 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 will be 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.

Final year students and graduates will be allowed 4 weeks to accept their offers.

This is a major change to the way many offers were made in the past when offers were often given to penultimate year students on the September 1st of their final year of undergraduate study. As a result of the increased flexibility that the new Code allows, it is likely that firms may review and amend their long standing recruitment practices. Please be vigilant to this. It may mean different deadlines for both vacation schemes and  training contracts as well as new dates for interviews. 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.

The Code was revised in 2015/16 and this remains the most up to date version. We do not expect every firm to make major changes. More likely is that we will see gradual change over the next few years. Not all firms will adhere to the Code either – but please ask them if they do! Once the SQE arrives there may be many other changes to the way that law firms recruit so keep yourself updated in case this will affect you.

Within the Code there are rules for students too, in particular with regard to handling interviews and vacation scheme and training contract (PRT) opportunities. Law firms are likely to make it clear on their websites if they are signatories to this Code.

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 2018-2019 will be for training contracts (PRTs) that begin in September 2021/March 2022. 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 often be different for non law students (and even those with a law degree which is not a qualifying law degree for England and Wales). Some of the larger City of London firms have closing dates in January/February for non law students only  but the end of June/July in the year of graduation is still a  common closing  date.   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 October 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 yoursefl 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 2018/19

Second-year Law students, or Law finalists deferring entry

  • Michaelmas Term 2018: Assess motivation/skills to be a solicitor and what the role involves. Attend careers information events, presentations and fairs. Research opportunities for vacation schemes, check closing dates (for both vacation schemes and training contracts (PRTs) and apply as appropriate, often over the first part of the Christmas holiday for vacation schemes (usually online via a standard application form or a CV and cover letter). Don’t leave your application until too late as some firms screen forms as they arrive and interview before the closing date has arrived.
  • Hilary Term 2019: Continue with applications and attend interviews (many take place in this term in Oxford or at the firm’s premises). If you make your application in good time, you are likely to be able to book your interview at a time that suits during the second half of the Christmas Vacation. Try and avoid term time if you can as you will not be allowed to miss tutorials.
  • Trinity Term 2019: Research in detail training contracts (PRT) opportunities and check dates and deadlines. Complete application forms and revise your CV if required, and submit for training contracts (PRTs) commencing 2021.
  • Summer 2019: 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 2019: 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 2019: Apply for LPC courses as appropriate from now on, 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 2020: 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 Skype appointments for students on this course whilst they 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 dinners and other 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 2018: 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 January) and apply as appropriate.
  • November/December 2018: Apply in good time for Easter/Summer work experience (closing dates are usually end of Dec/ January but we don’t advise leaving your application this late) and open days.
  • Hilary Term 2019: End of January: closing date for some training contracts (PRTs) applications. Attend interviews for training contracts (PRTs)/vacation schemes as appropriate.
  • Trinity Term 2019: Continue to make training contract (PRT) applications / attend interviews as necessary.
  • Summer Vacation 2019: Attend interviews as arranged.

Penultimate year

Try to gain some insights into legal work. Some firms will accept applications for formal vacation schemes and even offer training contracts to penultimate year students. This number could increase with the new Code in place, 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 (check with institutions or in reference books) plus living expenses is likely to be in excess of £10,000-£15,000 per annum, i.e. overall £20,000-£30,000 for the non-Lawyer. 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 Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society has an excellent page on its website giving information about the various forms of possible support.

  • 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 2019 will usually be on the Law Society website by the end of December 2018.
  • 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 £10,000 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. Details of the relevant ones can be found on the Junior Lawyers Division of Law Society funding web pages.
  • 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.
Our resources


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
Jursiprudence 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


We subscribe to the following journals are available through the University libraries:

  • 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:

  • 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

Podcasts of past events

Commercial awareness for future lawyers

In this podcast, Freshfields Partner, Tony Besse explains how law firms assess commercial awareness during the interview process for training contracts and give some tips on how you can improve this skill.

Practical Tips for becoming a Trainee Solicitor

This session was led by Sarah Pooley from the University of Law. Sarah is herself an experienced solicitor who now heads the University of Law’s Guildford centre. In this podcast she talks you through the process of qualification, the skills needed and the post graduate study required. She also includes an update on the forthcoming changes to the solicitors’ qualification route that the S.R.A. announced earlier this year and which are planned to start to take effect in September 2020.

Humanitarian Rights Law

This session takes the form of a panel. An Oxford Human Rights Hub representative is joined by practising lawyers from local law firm Turpin and Miller, and from the charity Just for Kids Law, who talk about their work in the area of human rights law.

External resources

General Job Sites

Legal Job & Volunteering Sites

Law Careers & 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 Careers – Solicitors – News and information for students and a jobs board
  • All About Law – Inside information, tips and advice, plus discussion and blogs from trainees, pupils and lawyers 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
  • Inside Buzz – Quotes from legal employees, together with interview and salary information
  • 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
  • Halsbury’s Law Exchange – A legal think tank working to communicate ideas on reform or legal direction. Free weekly email updates.
  • 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

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 & Professional Associations

Diversity & Positive Action

Publications & 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

Equality, diversity & positive action

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 backgroud 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 ( 20th November 2018), 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.

This information was last updated on 30 August 2018.
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The S.R.A ( Solicitors Regulation Authority) have just announced that the introduction of the new Solicitors Qualification Exam (S.Q.E) will now be in September 2021 – delayed a year from their initial plans.

You can read their press release and keep up to date with S.Q.E. news here

This announcement means that anyone who starts a law degree ( or GDL ) from September 2021 onwards will need to qualify under the new system.  Anyone who has already started their law degree, GDL or LPC before that date will be able to qualify under the transitional arrangements i.e. under either the old or new system.

Initial estimates for the cost of taking the S.Q.E. are between £3000 and £4500.

Meantime, keep your efforts focused on researching the role and the legal industry together with the firms and their opportunities for you.

Hong Kong Law Fair

Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 07/11/2018.

When: Monday 12 November, 2018, 17:00-18:30
WhereOxford Town Hall

Meet major international and local law firms and law schools to learn about student internships and graduate opportunities in Hong Kong on Monday, 12 November 2018 at the Oxford Town Hall from 17:00-18:30. See CareerConnect for details of participating firms.

Legal Case Study Workshop

Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 07/11/2018.

When: Tuesday 13 November, 14:30 – 16:30
Where: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road

Clifford Chance will be here at the Careers Service on Tuesday, 13 November at 14:30 to run a legal case study workshop.

This session is will be based around a legal case study of the sort that you may encounter when applying for vacation schemes or training contracts. It will focus on how to prepare for and then tackle a case study exercise/interview and also offer tips on developing commercial awareness.

All students are welcome – you don’t have to be applying to Clifford Chance to come along but spaces will be limited so please book your place on CareerConnect.

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