June 23, 2015, by Laura Estrop
Getting Into Law Without a Law Degree
By Priya Thakar, student blogger
Back in March, I attended the ‘Spotlight On: Law for Non-Law’ event, organised by Careers. The event was very popular and it was interesting to me that there were students from a wide variety of subjects with a keen interest in the law profession. Courses varied from mechanical engineering to ancient history. It was the perfect opportunity to learn about the process of converting from a non-law degree to qualifying as a solicitor or barrister.
The event started with introductions from the five firms attending the event – Holman Fenwick Willan, Hogan Lovells, Burges Salmon, Vinson and Elkins and Browne Jacobson. This was followed by a speed-networking session, where small groups had the opportunity to talk with representatives from each firm.
What is the process of converting from a non-law degree?
To become a solicitor from a non-law degree, you would need to do two additional years of study. One year for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course, where you are taught the equivalent of a law degree. The second year is for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) where you learn about using the law in practice.
After you have completed the GDL and LPC, you then undertake a training contract. Training contracts are a two-year contract of employment with a law firm. During those two-years you gain practical experience of working with other solicitors as well as understanding how a law firm operates; it is the first paid job you have on your way to becoming a solicitor.
All firms stressed that training contracts need to be applied for two years in advance. It is common practice for non-law students to apply for a training contract in the third year of their undergraduate degree or first year of the GDL course. But you can begin researching firms from the second year of your degree onwards.
We also gained a useful insight into how lengthy the application process is. It often involves an initial application form, followed by psychometric tests, telephone interviews and multiple group and individual interviews.
How can you make an application stand out?
The representatives then told us how we can make our own applications stand out. Here is a small summary of what they said:
- Complete some informal work experience or apply for a vacation scheme to show your dedication to a law career.
- Use existing volunteering and work experiences to demonstrate your skills and develop commercial awareness by keeping up to date with what is going on in the business and commercial world.
- Spend time researching the firm you are applying to and make sure each application is specific to that firm.
- It is very important to take care of spelling, grammar and sentence structure when making your application.
Overall the event was insightful; I learned a lot about a career I am definitely interested in pursuing. I gained a lot of knowledge about the best way to ensure I get a training contract when I begin applying for them next year.
If you’re interested in a career in law and are currently studying a non-law degree you can find more information about GDLs here. Remember you can always book an appointment with one of our careers advisers and discuss any questions you may have.
Photo: Palge – Law & Order