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How to Qualify as a Lawyer in the UK after Studying a University Foundation Program

Course guide 11 July 2017

Law can be one of the most interesting and varied career paths available. Lawyers can work in a variety of settings—from large corporations to the non-profit sector—and deal with many types of work, handling everything from simple business agreements to complex criminal cases.

The process for qualifying as a lawyer can be very different depending on what country you are in. International students in the UK who are interested in becoming lawyers need to be aware of the qualifications and training they will need.

There are two types of lawyers in the UK: solicitors and barristers. Read on to find out more about the differences between them, and how students can qualify for both roles.

How Students at University Preparation School Can Become Solicitors

The most common type of lawyer in the UK is a solicitor. A solicitor performs tasks like researching cases, writing up contracts and arranging agreements, but does not usually represent clients in court, except occasionally in smaller cases.

They can work in a wide range of roles and will often specialise in a particular area of law, such as finance, property, or family law. A career as a solicitor can be an excellent choice for students who enjoy doing in-depth research and have good attention to detail.

To become a solicitor in the UK, students need to obtain either a Bachelor of Law Degree (LLB) or an Undergraduate Degree in another area followed by a one-year Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). After this, they must complete a Legal Practice Course. This usually takes one year or two years of part-time study, and involves a mix of compulsory subjects and a choice of specialised electives. Once students have completed the LPC, a solicitor will take a two-year training contract at a law office before becoming fully qualified.

Most of a solicitor’s work is done outside the courtroom

Should University Foundation Students Pursue a Career as a Barrister?

The main role of a barrister is to represent clients in court, presenting their case in front of a judge and arguing on their behalf. They need to be very skilled at public speaking, and able to form arguments and react quickly when new information is presented. Students enrolled in a university foundation program who have experience in debating may be well suited to this path.

Like a solicitor, the first step to becoming a barrister is to obtain either an LLB or GDL qualification. After that, students need to complete the Bar Professional Training Course, a one-year program where they learn specialised skills and take a special exam known as the Bar Course Aptitude Test. If they pass, they can go on to complete a year of professional training known as ‘Pupilage’ to become fully qualified. Pupilage allows them to assist a qualified barrister in their work.  

While being a barrister can be very rewarding, students should keep in mind that there are only around 15,000 in the whole of the UK, and it can be a very competitive area to break into.     

Choosing the Right University Foundation Subjects for a Law Career

Regardless of which path they are considering, the first step for university preparation school students looking to become lawyers is to choose relevant subjects during their program that will help them gain entry to a top university law program.

CATS allows university foundation students to study three elective modules in addition to their intensive English training. A good combination might be Mathematics, Sociology, and Economics, for instance, although other subjects such as history and business may also be useful to their future law career. The school’s dedicated higher education advisors will offer plenty of support and guidance to help you find the right combination and increase your chances of progression.

 Students looking to become lawyers should study relevant subjects during their foundation program

Interested in becoming a lawyer?

Get a great start at CATS—one of the best schools for university foundation in the UK!

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