Law schools offer academic law courses and the professional courses that make up part of the qualifying criteria for solicitors and barristers.
For graduates without a qualifying law degree wanting to become a solicitor or barrister, an accelerated conversion course is available.
The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), or the Common Professional Examination (CPE) course allow non-law graduates to gain the legal knowledge required for the next step in one year. Some providers will guarantee a place on their LPC course for students completing their GDL or CPE course.
Legal Practice Course (LPC)
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is the academic stage of training to be a solicitor in England or Wales. An LPC can be studied full time (over one year) or part-time (over two years) with a provider authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
The LPC prepares students for the final stage of qualification: the training contract with a law firm.
LPC with an LLM
LPC courses rolled into an LLM are becoming more common since the introduction of postgraduate loans for masters courses. LLM legal practice courses combine an SRA accredited LPC with top-up electives to make up the LLM.
As an LLM, the course is eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan. The LPC is a postgraduate diploma which isn't eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan under the current rules.
Bar Practice Training Course (BPTC)
Before applying for pupillage, future barristers must complete the Bar Practice Training Course (BPTC). The full-time course takes one year, and is offered part-time by some authorised providers. Providers are authorised by the Bar Standards Board, which also sets the entry requirements for the course.
After successfully passing the BPTC, graduates can then begin the competitive process of applying for pupillage.
Academic law courses
Alternatives to the common professional examination (CPE) or graduate diploma in law (GDL) for entry into the sector, include a legal masters, senior law degree or postgraduate LLB. Each of these routes has its benefits and the choice needs to be weighed up in terms of personal pros and cons.