If you’re thinking of a career in law, you may have lots of questions. This page will answer all of these, giving you a little more insight into deciding on a career in law when you’re already at/have been to university.

Can You Do A Law Conversion With Any Degree?

Yes. However, you will need a minimum of a 2:2 in your non-law degree to be considered for a law conversion course. In all cases, a better grade in your non-law degree gives you a better chance of securing a conversion course and the in-work training you will need to qualify.

Is A Law Conversion Course Worth It?

A law conversion course is an accelerated learning programme that will give you the legal knowledge you need to get to the same level as someone with an undergraduate law degree.

According to the Central Applications Board (CAB), conversion to law has become increasingly popular since the COVID-19 outbreak. CAB statistics show that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, law conversion course applications have increased by a quarter.

In an increasingly competitive legal job market, many employers favour students with a PGDL. As you have studied another degree subject, and you are looking to build your career in legal practice, you will have gained more transferable skills.

By choosing law at a later stage, you are showing determination and motivation to pursue a new career, which employers see as a benefit. Employers actively seek people looking to switch to a career in law.

Non-law graduates are considered to offer a fresh perspective and experience in subjects unrelated to law. For example, if you have a non-law degree in a STEM subject, you will be of interest to law firms where building client relationships and undertaking work may need technical as well as legal knowledge.

You may have business, communication, written or other specialist skills obtained through your non-law degree, which provide a good foundation for complementing legal knowledge.

Some law firms prefer to hire from non-law backgrounds because candidates offer more rounded experience.

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Which Law Conversion Course Should I Take?

Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL)
A Postgraduate Law Diploma (PGDL) course – formerly a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) – fits approximately 18 months’ worth of a three-year law degree into a one-year (full-time) or two-year (part-time) course.

Several UK universities offer PGDL courses, including the University of Law. The Postgraduate Diploma in Law provides a foundational pathway into practice for non-law graduates, and allows you to keep your options open if you want to become a solicitor or barrister.

A PGDL allows you to develop the key intellectual and personal skills required by law firms, plus the skills needed to pass the professional examinations for qualification as a solicitor. Some of the learning material you can expect on a PGDL course includes:

  • The Foundations of Legal Knowledge
  • Skills and Behaviours
  • Law of Organisations

You can learn more about PGDL courses here.

MA Law (Conversion)

MA Law conversion courses contain similar content to a PGDL, but includes a higher level of specialisation in an area of law that interests you, plus a research focus. Similar to a PGDL, an MA Law course enables you to keep your options open if you want to become a solicitor or a barrister.

An MA Law conversion course could include some of the following modules:

  • Foundations of Legal Knowledge
  • Skills and Behaviours
  • Law of Organisations
  • Dissertation in Law

By studying for a Master’s degree you could qualify for law conversion course funding through a Postgraduate Master’s Loan.

MA Law (SQE1)

This type of law conversion course includes an SQE1 preparation course, which prepares you for SQE1 assessments. An MA Law conversion course is designed for non-law graduates looking to qualify as a solicitor and gain a legal qualification at Master’s level.

SQE preparation courses are not compulsory, they are recommended. They will help to fill any knowledge gaps and ensure that you are well prepared to take the SQE exams.

SQE Law Essentials

An SQE Law Essentials course is a conversion course specifically designed for non-law graduates looking to progress onto the SQE1. SQE Law Essentials is a short course that will give you the essential legal knowledge needed for SQE1.

After you complete an SQE Law Essentials course, you can progress to the SQE1 preparation course or an LLM Legal Practice course, which covers SQE1 & 2 to qualify as a solicitor.

How To Apply For A Law Conversion Course

To apply for a full time law conversion course, you will need to register and submit an application through the Central Applications Board (CAB). You can apply online at www.lawcabs.ac.uk providing persuasive reasons for choosing a legal career, outlining your aspirations and offering evidence of your commitment to the profession.

Applications for law conversion courses through the CAB open in October for the following September, and cost £30. Closing dates will vary by institution, number of places and demand. The earlier you apply, the better.

If you are applying for a distance learning or part-time law conversion course, you should make your application direct to the institution where you want to study – closing dates for part-time and distance learning courses are usually in February. This is subject to change and you should check deadlines with the institution to which you are applying.

How Are Law Conversion Courses Affected By The SQE?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduced a new route for qualifying as solicitor in the autumn of 2021, known as the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). The SQE will need to be passed by all solicitors to qualify, and replaces the GDL and LPC.

If you accepted a place on or started a qualifying law degree, GDL or LPC before September 2021, you have until 2032 to qualify as a solicitor through the old system.

If you are a non-law graduate pursuing a career as a barrister, you will be required to take the PGDL conversion course before the Bar course. If you are pursuing the SQE route to become a solicitor, the PGDL is not a requirement in order for those with a non-law undergraduate degree to qualify as a solicitor. However, if you are considering a training contract, some law firms may require that you take the PGDL, in addition to the SQE.

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