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Study and training overview

Study and training overview for all graduates seeking legal careers

Find out about the range of postgraduate study choices for both law graduates and non-law graduates, and the training routes for becoming a barrister or a solicitor.

All graduates who want a career in law need to undertake a stage of vocational training and then complete a period of on-the-job training. If you are not a law graduate, you will need to take a law conversion course before you start your vocatinal training. There is a range of further postgraduate study options if you want to gain specialised legal knowledge, but you don't need to study to this level to become a barrister or solicitor.

Non-law graduates who want careers in law

If you don't have a law degree you'll need to start by getting up to speed on the law through a conversion course: the common professional examination (CPE), also known as the graduate diploma in law (GDL). This takes one year full time or two years part time or through distance learning. You'll need to plan ahead, however, if you want to become a lawyer without a law degree, and you may want to do legal work experience to show your commitment.

Vocational training for legal careers

After you've completed your law degree (or the CPE or GDL if you're a non-law student) you'll need to start a period of vocational training: the legal practice course (LPC) if you want to be a solicitor or the Bar professional training course (BPTC) if you're an aspiring barrister. Both take a year full time or two years part time.

Learning on the job as a solicitor or barrister

Once you've finished your vocational training you'll need to put it into practice via an apprenticeship at a law firm (a training contract) or barristers' chambers (a pupillage). 

How to plan ahead for a career in law

Not surprising, with all these options you'll need to plan well ahead to make sure you're on the right track. Our application planners for solicitors' and barristers' training can help you.

Additional postgraduate study

Although not compulsory, other postgraduate courses in law provide specialised knowledge. These courses, which include LLMs, MAs and PhDs, can boost your employability, particularly if you're keen to specialise at an early stage or to pursue an academic career.