Becoming a lawyer in the United Kingdom is not an easy achievement and only the best of the best will make it. If this is your chosen career route then this is exactly what you can expect.
When your high school career is over and you’ve decided that becoming a legal professional is what you want in your future then there is a number of steps that you will have to complete before you can call yourself a fully qualified lawyer or barrister.
First you must obtain an undergraduate degree; the degree that you choose to embark on does not have to be a law degree. If you choose to major in something other than law then you should be aware that once you’ve completed your degree you’ll have to spend one year on a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course so that you know exactly what you need to know in order to progress onto the next step. In whatever degree you choose to take you should aim to achieve at least a 2.1 in order to maximise your prospects afterwards. If your grade is anything less than this then you could struggle to obtain a training contract or pupillage. This may seem unfair but when your bear in mind that the majority of barristers are graduates from either Oxford or Cambridge you can see the quality that you will be up against. For this reason you should also aim to get into the best university that you can as your degree will also be judged on the university that you have attended.
In the last year of your degree you should start to apply for training contracts or pupillages; although it’s not essential that you secure on at this point, if you do then you have more chance of having your Post graduate course paid for.
The second step of your journey will be a post graduate course that is specialised to the career path you wish to follow. The course will be one year long and will be an LPC (Legal Practice Course) if you wish to be a solicitor and a BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) if you’re aiming to become a barrister.
These are not courses that you choose to take if you are not 100% sure on where you want to end up in the future; the courses are really intense and expensive and you have to find the money to pay for them yourself as you can no longer be supported with student finance.
After your post graduate course, if you are aiming to become a solicitor then you will have to complete a training contract – you should have secured this by now – and if you’re trying to become a barrister then a one year pupillage is your next step.
This is the final step of your journey and after this you will be a fully qualified lawyer.
Carla Wain has worked as a legal executive for five years and wrote this article on behalf of pro-legal.co.uk