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The legal profession can command the highest salary amongst careers throughout the world . This is not achieved without a considerable workload as a law student. You have to run the extra distance and burn the candle at both ends absorbing case studies, apprenticeships and writing reports to name a few  Read more...

Qualifying as a Lawyer

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Welcome to Legal Education.org.uk

If you are looking for information on joining the legal profession in the UK, we hope you will find the information and resources supplied here of help and value.


Qualifying as a Lawyer in the United Kingdom

The legal profession is a highly competitive vocation and therefore the highest qualifications and abilities are demanded from aspirant students. Ideally you will have attained the highest grades in GCSE and A-level subjects, a law degree of at least 2.1 with further qualifications and as much practical experience as possible. Less than 50 percent of those who have gained a law degree actually enter into the professions.

There are two distinct branches under the legal system in England and Wales, that of solicitors and barristers. Solicitors tend to work together with others in private practice and are generally the first port of call for those seeking legal advice. Solicitors are also employed in government departments and commercial businesses. The Law Society is the professional body representing solicitors.

Barristers, on the other hand, do not generally deal with the public directly, but take their instructions from a solicitor representing the client. Barristers then represent the client at court and present their case. The Bar Council is the professional body representing barristers.

Academic and Vocational Training

Both solicitors and barristers must complete two clear stages of training, the academic and vocational stages. The academic stage is usually accomplished by obtaining a law degree, although graduates with degrees other than law can still enter the professions by taking the Graduate Diploma in Law which will take a further year of study.

Once you have completed the academic stage you should consider carefully if you wish to follow a career in law, the skills you acquire in completing the degree are valued by other diverse vocations. If you have chosen to follow a legal career, then you must complete the second stage of vocational training.

For solicitors, the Law Society requires those who wish to qualify to take a Legal Practice Course. This is followed by obtaining a Training Contract from a firm of solicitors who agree to provide you with a further two years of training before you are finally admitted as a solicitor to the Law society.

Barristers are required to take the Bar Vocational Course, designed by the General Council of the Bar to provide students of the bar with the practical skills involved in court work. On successful completion of the Bar Exams the student can then be called to the Bar by their Inn of Court. All aspirant barristers are required to join one of the four Inns of Court, the tradition involves paying a membership fee and attending a required amount of sessions at the Inns.

Before a barrister can actually practice on their own, they must first face the hurdle of finding a set of chambers to join and complete their 12 months 'pupilage' where they work with an experienced barrister to learn the practices that constitute a barrister's work. Unfortunately these places are limited. Far more barristers qualify than are needed at court and many go on to take up different vocations associated with their skills.

Summary

This has been a short overview of the steps needed to enter and complete a legal education. Keep in mind that the legal profession recruits years in advance and so it is never to early to prepare for your path from school, university to chambers. Due to the numbers studying law and hence the competition, you will need to keep up a high standard throughout the entire course of your studies.

Overview of Law in the United Kingdom
Royal Courts of Justice Emblem

Background

There are three separate jurisdictions within the UK - England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All three are based upon the common law system. The UK is also a member state of the European Union and subject to European law. Whilst the UK does not have a written constitution, the Human Rights Act 1999 incorporates in UK law the European Convention on Human Rights.

The legal education systems of the three jurisdictions in the UK involve two pre-qualification stages- the Academic stage and the Vocational stage. This background describes the system in England and Wales. The approach to legal education is very similar in the other jurisdictions, although each has its own distinctive characteristics.

The undergraduate law degree is the most common form of entry into the legal profession, followed by a one year professional course and examination (the professional stage). This bifurcation of legal study has resulted in the development of undergraduate programmes which largely concentrate upon the analysis of legal texts and the identification of legal principles, whilst the Vocational stage has more recently turned its attentions to the knowledge, skills and competencies that practising lawyers require.


Concepts
  • 3 separate jurisdictions – England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Common law system
  • European assimilation
  • Division between academic and vocational stages
  • Rapid growth of undergraduate study of law in past 10 years
  • Reforms of legal services affecting lawyer demand and professional identity
  • Technological development in delivery process
  • .Reform of learning and teaching methods, quality control, and access affecting higher education
  • Global law markets, democratisation and development