Postgraduate study and qualifications

How do I fund my law conversion course, Bar course, LPC or SQE prep?

25 Aug 2023, 08:49

The law is a great career – intellectually challenging, respected and worthwhile – but qualifying as a solicitor or barrister takes time and money. The University of Law, the UK’s largest provider of legal education*, guides you through your financing options.

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Jump to: funding for both aspiring solicitors and barristers | more funding options for aspiring solicitors | more funding options for budding barristers | options for conversion course students | more about the University of Law

All aspiring solicitors and barristers will need to undertake some postgraduate study which can be costly. The University of Law has 16 campuses across the UK providing a range of industry-leading postgraduate law courses . As well as full-time on-campus courses, it offers part-time and online study modes, meaning your studies can fit around your lifestyle.

Whether you want to be a solicitor or barrister, to undertake additional legal training or to convert to law from a non-law undergraduate degree, there is a host of funding options available to you as a prospective postgraduate student. These options include postgraduate masters loans, scholarships and bursaries, and gaining sponsorship from a law firm, alongside other funding sources. What’s more, the University of Law’s flexible payment plans allow you to break your course costs into smaller and more manageable instalments.

Funding for both aspiring solicitors and barristers

The University of Law has more than £2 million available in their scholarship fund to help students achieve their ambitions. These scholarships are awarded based on need or merit, or a combination of the two. The list of scholarships is here , with several available for aspiring solicitors and a number of awards for the Bar practice course. Many charities and grant-making trusts offer students financial support. Contact the Education Grants Advisory Service for information about relevant grants.

Some high street banks offer graduate loans from £1,000 up to £15,000, subject to status and assessment. Contact your bank to see what is available.

Options for aspiring solicitors

If you started your law studies after September 2021, you will follow the ‘new’ SQE route to qualify. This involves passing two solicitors qualifying exams (SQE1 and SQE2) and completing two years of qualifying work experience (QWE).

If you started your studies before September 2021, it is still possible to follow the ‘old’ legal practice course (LPC) route to become a solicitor. This involves taking the LPC, following it with two years of recognised training, completing the professional skills course and passing the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA)’s character and suitability requirements. Check whether you’re eligible to follow the LPC route on the University of Law’s LPC course page . Whichever route you take, there is financial help out there.

Funding option 1: secure sponsorship

Many law firms offer two-year training contracts where they sponsor you through the exams, pay for you to undertake any study necessary for you to pass and provide you with the work experience you need to qualify as a solicitor. In return, you may be asked to commit to working for your sponsor for a longer period than your training.

You'll need to apply for this training early, usually in the second year of your law degree, or the final year of your degree if you’re studying another subject. Most law firms and other training contract providers state the support they offer on their websites and their graduate recruitment literature, such as their targetjobs organisation hubs .

If you are already on or want to follow the LPC route, check whether your preferred firms still support this – many of the big firms are switching to the SQE route for 2024 if they haven’t already.

Funding option 2: study at masters level to access student loans

By choosing masters level courses you can apply for a postgraduate masters loan of up to £12,167 for 2023/2024. The University of Law’s LLM legal practice (SQE1&2) is appropriate for law graduates who wish to study the new SQE route to practice and also gain a masters qualification.

If you’re a law graduate who prefers the LPC route or wants to go straight to preparation for SQE1 and SQE2, you will not be able to apply for the postgraduate masters loan. However, the University of Law is so sure of the quality of their LPC and LLM legal practice (SQE1&2) that they will repay your fees if you haven’t secured a job within nine months of successfully completing the course. In fact, they are so confident in their SQE courses that, if you don’t pass SQE1 or SQE2, you can repeat their exam preparation courses for free, as many times as you need.

Funding option 3: bursaries

If you have no other funding, you may be able to get a bursary from the Law Society. Applications must be made by April of the year you start your course. Find out more at the SRA website. The Aspiring Solicitors Foundation part-funds scholarships, provides grants for study resources, offers business clothing for interviews, and pays for transport to events and legal work experience.

Options for budding barristers

The journey to becoming a barrister has three stages: academic, vocational and work-based. The academic stage involves studying a law degree or a non-law degree plus a conversion course. The vocational stage is undertaking the Bar course and the final work-based stage is a pupillage year, split into two six-month blocks, normally spent in one or more barristers’ chambers. When you start pupillage, your chambers will provide you with an award – the minimum amount is set by the Bar Council each January. You’ll then need to find a set from which to practise permanently, known as ‘tenancy’.

Funding option 1: Inns of Court scholarships

The four Inns of Court offer £6 million in scholarships, which can cover the costs of the conversion course, the Bar practice course or supplement the pupillage award. It’s highly competitive and you can only apply to one Inn of Court.

Funding option 2: study at masters level to access student loans

The University of Law offers it’s Bar Practice Course at masters level as a BPC LLM , meaning you can apply for a postgraduate masters loan of up to £12,167 for 2023/2024 towards your tuition fees, study costs and living expenses.

Options for law conversion course students

If you completed an undergraduate degree in a non-law field and now wish to study law at a postgraduate level, you can do so by studying a law conversion course. The University of Law offers a number of law conversion courses , which offer a pathway to becoming a solicitor or barrister.

A law conversion course offers the necessary legal foundation required to progress to solicitor and barrister training courses such as the BPC, LPC or SQE programmes. Most law firms now expect non-law graduates to have completed a law conversion course before embarking on SQE preparation.

Funding option 1: sponsorship

Some larger London-based law firms will provide grants or sponsorship towards the cost of a postgraduate diploma in law (PGDL) or MA law conversion course, as well an LPC or SQE preparation. These include Baker McKenzie LLP, Macfarlanes LLP, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP and Osborne Clarke LLP.

Funding option 2: study at masters level to access student loans

If you’re interested in converting to law from a non-law undergraduate degree, the University of Law’s MA law (conversion) and MA law (SQE1) one-year conversion courses are both eligible for postgraduate masters loans. PGDLs, however, are not eligible for student finance because they are diplomas rather than masters programmes.

Funding option 3: bursaries

Many law schools offer scholarship and bursaries options to law conversion course students. At the University of Law, students interested in studying a law conversion courses can apply for the Lord Blunkett Widening Access Award, a Career Changer Award and Charles Russell Speechlys Scholarship and more – see the full list here.

For aspiring barristers studying a law conversion, scholarship funding for PGDLs and MA law courses are also available from the Inns of Court. For more information, visit the website of your chosen Inn.

More about studying at the University of Law

Did you know that more law students chose the University of Law than any other UK university in 2022? You can find out why – and much more about their courses – on the University of Law’s course provider hub on targetjobs.

*According to HESA 2021/22.

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