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Solicitors - training
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Academic Stage of training

Education & training, degree route.

To qualify as a solicitor the normal route - as with barristers - is by obtaining at least a second class honours law degree.


A degree is not necessary and a solicitor may qualify by following the legal executive route.

Common Professional Examinations (CPE)

If the degree is in any subject other than law it is necessary to pass the CPE in core subjects, this can take a further year (and cost).

Qualifying law degree

Not all law degrees are sufficient, the law degree must be a "qualifying law degree", which will normally comprise the core subjects of:

  • European Law

  • Public Law

  • Equity and Trusts

  • Property Law

  • The English Legal System

  • Contract Law

  • Criminal Law

  • Tort

Some universities are now offering four year "Exempting Degrees" that include the Bar Vocational Course or the Legal Practice Course.  These are claimed to be cheaper and better.

See Northumbria University prospectus here.



The National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT) was conceived in 2003 by a group of eight leading universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and University College London (UCL), to provide an additional means of differentiating between candidates for their highly competitive law degree courses who had scored top grades at A-Level. The group has now grown to 11 universities, including Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Glasgow.

Vocational Stage of Training

Legal Practice Course (LPC)

After University, trainees attend a one-year LPC.

Training includes; interviewing and business management, for example keeping accounts.


After LPC, a Training Contract

Training Contract, taken with a firm of solicitors as an assistant solicitor, lasts two years.  Some CPS areas offer training contracts to their staff.


The minimum salary for a trainee solicitor is set by the Law Society, details here.

Failure rate

Not as high as for would be barristers, but many who have completed the academic stage never obtain training contracts.


Only one year (1998) were there more training contracts available than qualified applicants.



Name added to roll of solicitors.  Roll is retained by the Master of the Rolls.


Continuing Professional Development

Professional Skills Course (twenty days and includes an advocacy module)

16 hours of Continuing Professional Development per year for three years.

48 hours for each subsequent three year period.



Can become a Queen’s Counsel eventually.

The judiciary?

Promotion to the Judiciary possible for solicitors.

Possible to all levels since the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (prior to this, they could only become circuit judges).


At 1 October 2001 only 2 High Court Judges came from the ranks of solicitor, all the rest were barristers.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (formerly the  Lord Chancellor's Department)  2000

82 per cent of solicitors in private practice are white.

5 per cent of "other ethnic origin".

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