Which law firms will fund your LPC, SQE preparation and GDL/PGDL course fees and pay maintenance costs?
Training to qualify as a solicitor is expensive, so it's worth knowing what financial support will be available in 2022 from law firms, bursary schemes, loans and elsewhere.
The promise of a generous salary is a tempting reason to become a trainee solicitor but the flip-side is that qualifying is an expensive business. According to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies published in July 2019, students studying at British universities will graduate with much higher debts than before, averaging £50,000. Non-law graduates may also need to cover conversion courses (usually known as the CPE, GDL or PGDL) fees, which can range from £5,000 to £12,000 full time, and graduates who want to become a trainee solicitor may need to fund either the legal practice course (LPC) or SQE preparation course and exams. The LPC costs from £9,000 to £17,000 full time, while SQE preparation courses can cost anywhere between approximately £2,000 and £15,000.
Financial support from commercial law firms
Many large and medium-sized commercial firms provide financial support for the LPC, SQE and the conversion courses but to be eligible for this you’ll have to have a training contract lined up with them and attend the institution of their choice.
The following law firms supplied the information below for our publication targetjobs Law 2022, which is available free from your careers service. Having this support in place can really take the pressure off and leave you free to concentrate on your course work. This year, most commercial law firms offer maintenance grants from around £8,000 to £10,000 (bear in mind that that the amount offered for maintenance grants will also vary depending on location – with trainees based in London receiving the highest amounts). Keep these figures in perspective: better to choose the law firm that offers the type of law you want to practise, the culture that suits your character and the location that’s best for you than be swayed too much by the size of the maintenance grant.
LPC, SQE and conversion course sponsorship from leading law firms
- Ashurst LLP GDL and LPC sponsorship of £8,000 (for study in London) and £7,000 (outside of London)
- Baker McKenzie LLP Full fees and £8,000 maintenance for LPC Full fees and £6,000 maintenance for GDL
- Burges Salmon LLP Offers sponsorship but ask that you contact the firm for details
- Covington & Burling LLP Successful training contract applicants will receive payment of tuition fees, as well as a maintenance grant
- DLA Piper LLP LPC – Full fees and maintenance grant of £10,000 (London)/£7,000 (all other locations). GDL – Full fees and maintenance grant of £10,000 (London)/£7,000 (all other locations)
- DWF LLP Full LPC/Scottish diploma course fees if commenced after accepting a training contract
- Irwin Mitchell PGDL: full fees & £4,500 maintenance grant per year. The firm is beginning its transition to the SQE with 2022/23 candidates undertaking the LPC and 2023/24 candidates undertaking the SQE. From 2024/25 the firm will no longer fund the LPC.
- Latham & Watkins (London) LLP Full fees & £10,500 maintenance
- Macfarlanes LLP SQE preparation course: full fees and £10,000 maintenance grant PGDL full fees and £10,000 maintenance grant (BPP UK campuses)
- Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP Sponsorship available for PGDL/LPC/SQE
- Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (UK) LLP Sponsorship for the GDL and LPC, and also an £8,000 maintenance grant for the GDL and £9,500 for the LPC
- Osborne Clarke LLP Full fees and £8,000 maintenance grant
- RPC Fees paid plus up to £7,000 maintenance
To find out more about sponsorship, salaries and other benefits offered by legal employers, see our list of advertising law firms.
Financing your legal training to be a high street solicitor
Not every student will secure a training contract with a City, international, US or large regional firm – or want to. Sound financial planning is especially important for those joining smaller firms that cannot afford to pay fees. Most students in this position tend to rely on scholarships/bursaries, loans, parental support or part-time work in order to support their studies. It’s important to know how you’re going to pay for the course before accepting a place. Some smaller firms offer interest-free loans but it really does vary from firm to firm. Another alternative is that some institutions offer a part-time option for the LPC or SQE prep and the GDL, allowing you to keep earning while you study.
Loans and other monetary support for training as a solicitor
If you don’t have large sums of money at your disposal, then there are other means of financing your studies.
- Law Society Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) The Law Society offers assistance with LPC fees only to 'people from low socio-economic backgrounds' or with 'exceptional circumstances that have made it hard for you be become a solicitor' (which can be linked to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or other factors). The DAS has been running for over ten years and aims to address the key barriers to fair access to a career as a solicitor. Each of the ten DAS awardees is provided with a bursary towards the cost of the LPC, a professional mentor and work experience. Applications for the DAS open in February each year; see the Law Society website listed below for further information.
- Hardship funds When applying for the conversion course, SQE preparation course or LPC ask about any available hardship funds, bursaries or other funding methods offered by your chosen institution.
- If you are not eligible for sponsorship, grants and bursaries, you may choose to secure a loan from a private student loan provider. While these may offer more favourable rates than high street banks, it's down to you to pay back the loan (plus interest). It's advisable to exhaust all other funding avenues first, and to know exactly what you are signing up for.
- The Law Society advice line The Law Society offer personal, financial, professional and employment advice via their pastoral care helpline on 020 7320 5675.