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The route into becoming a solicitor appears complex, which is why we’ve rounded up a selection of frequently asked questions for you to peruse in your next free period.

What is a solicitor?

Solicitors offer legal advice to their clients and find solutions for their problems when they have a legal dimension. On top of this they also formulate their client’s cases and direct barristers to act for the client.

How do I qualify as a solicitor?

You must complete either a qualifying law degree or the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) and then complete the LPC (Legal Practice Course). Following this, you must complete a training contract and pass the PSC (Practical Skills Course).

What is the GDL?

The Graduate Diploma in Law is the year-long conversion course that non-law graduates can undertake so that they can then qualify for the LPC and become a solicitor.

What A-Levels should I do?

Generally, there aren’t specific requirements for law, but universities generally prefer you to have done at least one essay subject such as History, English or Law to help prepare you for the undergraduate degree.

What is a vacation scheme?

A vacation scheme is a short period of formal work experience normally lasting a few weeks at many law firms undertaken by penultimate year law and final year non-law undergraduates. This can help to give you a feel for the firm and many firms recruit trainees from their vacation schemes. The process of becoming a solicitor is easier if you can obtain one.

What is a training contract?

A training contract is the final stage of training in becoming a solicitor. These are completed over the course of 2 years at a specific law firm where you will spend time working in at least three different departments (also known as ‘seats’). The firm may then retain you as a qualified solicitor after this period.

Why become a solicitor over a barrister?

Becoming a solicitor offers several benefits over being a barrister: it is arguably less competitive, there is greater job security if you are employed by a firm rather than self-employed as many barristers are and can offer a more stable income.

What’s the difference between a solicitor and a legal executive?

The main difference between the two lies in their training: whilst solicitors study a broader range of subjects to an advanced level before specialising in a particular area, chartered legal executives only study one legal practice subject to an advanced level. Another difference is that chartered legal executives can only do the work of a solicitor when supervised by a solicitor.

How much does it cost to become a solicitor?

Whilst this will vary from person to person depending on the route you take, you should expect to spend at least £35,000 as the 3-year law LLB course would generally cost £27,000. Whilst the GDL costs between £7000-10,000 on top of your original course fees, and the LPC costs between £8,500-15,000.

How much do solicitors earn?

This depends on the solicitor’s position. Here is a rough table, although you can read more on our How to Become a Solicitor page.

Year 1
Year 2
Year 1
Commercial Law£40,000-£50,000£45,000-£55,000£70,000-£120,000
Public law£20,000-£30,000£25,000-£35,000£35,000-£45,000
Criminal law£18,000-£25,000£20,000-£28,000£22,000-£30,000
Family law£25,000-£35,000£30,000-£40,000£40,000-£60,000


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Page written by Joe Blackmore.


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