Solicitor timeline

The route to qualifying as a solicitor can be broken down into three parts. The academic stage covers your degree and/or conversion course. This is followed by the vocational stage, which covers the year-long Legal Practice Course (LPC). The final part is two years of work-based learning, known as the training contract.

Step 1

School/sixth-form college

  • Aim to get A grades in at least three academic
  • A-levels. Try to get some work experience in the legal sector, for example at your local solicitors’ firm.
  • Apply to university.
  • lSign up for free free email alerts (Weekly Bulletin and Legal Brief) for must-read careers advice and all the latest news and features on the events shaping the legal market.

Step 2

University: first-year law students

  • Join your university student law society, as it will be a valuable source of careers-related information.
  • Get involved in mooting and debating. Participate in pro bono activities. It is becoming common for universities to run pro bono clinics, but if your university does not have one, why anot set one up?
  • Look into other useful law and non-law-related work experience.
  • Enjoy yourself, but do not forget that law firms will ask for your first-year grades when you apply for vacation schemes in your second year.
  • Visit and read Lawyer 2B (you can pick up copies from your law school or careers library).

Step 3

University: second-year law students/final-year non-law students

In the autumn term:

  • Research the types of firms you want to apply to for a training contract.
  • Attend university law fairs and individual firm presentations. Your student law society and/or the careers library should have full details of these. Look on for advice on how to get the most out of law fairs.
  • Start working on a draft CV.
  • Research and apply for Christmas and Easter vacation placements.
  • l In the Christmas break and spring term:
  • Research and apply for summer vacation placements.
  • Look at attending law firm open days.
  • If you are a non-law student, you need to start thinking about applying for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

In the summer:

  • Take part in summer vacation schemes. If you have been unable to secure any, undertake other work experience in the commercial arena.
  • Apply for training contracts (most deadlines are at the end of July).
  • Attend interviews and assessment days.
  • Keep visiting for tips on how to get through the application process. Remember, law firms are not allowed to offer you a training contract until 1 September.

Step 4

University: final-year law students or conversion students

  • Pull out all the stops for your exams. You will likely need a stellar academic record to break into the legal profession.
  • Apply for a place on the LPC.
  • Investigate alternative sources of funding for the LPC if the firm you will be joining as a trainee does not offer sponsorship.
  • Enrol as a student member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority or you will not be able to begin the LPC.
  • Obtain a certificate for the completion of the academic stage of your legal training.

Step 5

Training contract

  • You are now ensconced in a genuine law firm for the next two years as a trainee solicitor. Firms are not obliged to retain you once you complete your training contract, so do all you can to impress. But if the firm is not for you, qualify and move on to pastures new.

Step 6


  • You will be admitted to the roll. You are now a fully fledged solicitor.