Switching Careers: How to Become a Lawyer

Published On May 24, 2017 | By Gustavo Howard | Law

Most of the professionals who end up practising law developed their passion for the subject at an early age. They completed their high school work experience in a barrister’s chambers, studied it at university, and dreamed of one day working for an august institution like Withers Worldwide.

Most, but not all. Although in a minority, there are plenty of examples of lawyers who switched careers well into adulthood, beginning their working lives in an entirely different vocation: as a doctor, as a writer, or perhaps even as a police officer who saw what solicitors and barristers can do up close.  

If you’re thinking of making your own career change, be assured that it’s perfectly possible. Here’s some information that you might find helpful…  

Step #1: Academic Qualifications

To begin requalifying as either a barrister or solicitor, you will first need to obtain an appropriate degree. Assuming that your postgraduate is not in law, but that you do have one, we recommend completing a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course. This will take just one year to finish if studied full-time, as opposed to the three years you would need to spend on a normal law degree. Most employers will expect you to score at least a 2:1 in order for them to consider taking you on.

Step #2: Vocational Training

Once you have completed a GDL, and assuming that you achieve a high enough grade, you can move on to the vocational stage of your training. This is where it branches off, with different courses for those who wish to become a barrister, and those who would prefer to qualify as a solicitor. The former must study for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), whilst the latter will need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Each of these take one year to finish if studied full-time, and two years if you would prefer to continue working alongside them. A formal training contract/period of recognised training must be carried out at their close.   

Step #3: ‘Equivalent Means’

If you would like to streamline this process as far as possible, there is one other way to requalify as a solicitor. It’s known as ‘alternative means’. Recently introduced, it allows individuals to spend some time working as a paralegal, and to compile a portfolio demonstrating the essential competences this has equipped them with, and the different areas of law they’ve experienced. Provided this indicates experience equivalent to a formal training contract, the individual is able to qualify, although they do still have to complete their LPC. More on this can be found here.   

If you’re considering changing to a career in law, take action today. Why wait for tomorrow?   


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