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How to become a lawyer

Becoming a lawyer takes more than just a decent law degree. In fact, you’ll need to have applied yourself academically right through school as you’ll need top GCSE and A-level grades to achieve your ambition of becoming a solicitor or barrister.

Even the quickest route takes five or six years from beginning university. You’ll need at least a 2.1 law degree and professional training for two years after that, depending on the legal qualification you want.

You want to be a barrister? You’ll need to take the one-year Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), followed by at least a 12-month pupillage in chambers. Pupillages are divided into two six-month periods, known as ‘sixes’.

You want to be a solicitor? You’ll have to pass the one-year Legal Practice Course (LPC) also known as the Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice followed by a two-year training contract.

LPC and BPTC courses both involve training on theory and in practice. These are offered by universities and colleges across the country, with BPP and University of Law being two of the best known.

Your degree doesn’t have to be in law for you to qualify as a barrister or solicitor. But you’ll need to take the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before going on to take the LPC/BPTC course. The GDL is an extra year’s study covering the foundations of law - contract, tort, criminal law, equity & trusts, EU law, property and public law.

Plan ahead

It’s never too soon to plot your path from school to university to a firm or chambers. The legal profession recruits years in advance, with many firms recruiting during the penultimate year of the law degree.

Results matter

Law is a popular career choice. So, to get ahead of the pack, you need to get ahead at school. Most university law courses require A and B grade GCSEs and a minimum of three good A-level grades (note, some firms and chambers won’t accept General Studies A-level). It’s also a good idea, while at the under graduate stage, to look for informal work experience, either via your sixth form or college or through family and friends contacts.

Right through university, you’ll need to get good grades too. Firms and chambers considering candidates for work experience, pupillages or training contracts scrutinise first and second-year exam results, and don’t settle for less than 2.1s and Firsts.

Using BCL Graduates and BCL Legal

BCL Graduates – can be an invaluable source of help, advice and information throughout when you are embarking on your legal career. BCL Legal will be able to help you once you have a minimum of six months’ fee earning experience under your belt.