A law degree is not a pre-requisite to qualifying as a solicitor.
The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) (also known as the Common Professional Examination) allows a non-law graduate to reach the same academic position as a law graduate. The law conversion course covers the compulsory modules of a law degree all in one year: Public Law, Land Law, Contract Law, Criminal Law, Tort Law, Equity and Trusts, and (for now!) European Union Law.
I chose to study English with Study Abroad at university, not law. This is not particularly unusual as many non-law graduates go on to pursue a legal career. I knew I would enjoy the degree and that the GDL would be an option if I decided to commit to law. I spent three years grappling with this country’s literature and the wider historical context. The study abroad element of my degree was living in Munich mainly studying English literature (strange though it sounds) and becoming fluent in German.
Following legal work experience during my degree and a paralegal position after graduation I converted to law and then studied the LPC. I am now a Trainee Solicitor in the Real Estate team.
The benefits of a non-law degree
When it comes to obtaining a training contract, you are not at a disadvantage if you did not study a law degree. Non-law graduates have a wealth of skills and experiences which can assist in a legal environment. My degree taught me valuable skills applicable to the legal profession: analysis of large amounts of information to reach a reasoned conclusion, teamwork, effective communication and research. Whilst my year abroad gave me something interesting to talk about in training contract interviews!
An English degree teaches you to analyse and communicate clearly and effectively. It is this skill which will help me throughout my career to convey complex legal matters to clients in a practical and understandable way.
Non-law subjects can be highly beneficial to your future legal career. Your experience and knowledge can help you to provide the ‘real-world’ commercial advice clients expect. For example, biological scientists can assist with Intellectual Property work whilst an engineering degree can help with construction disputes.
You do not have to have dreamt of being a lawyer since you were 8 to become one. This is not a prerequisite. You can study a subject at university you are passionate about and then complete the conversion course if you genuinely believe law is right for you. Don’t rush into the conversion course or the LPC if you are not certain about this career.
Completing the conversion course demonstrates your strong commitment to a legal career and will impress employers, but be prepared, it is a tough year.
Aside from the GDL and LPC route, those interested in a legal career can choose the increasingly popular CiLex route.