It generally takes three years to qualify as a solicitor if you have a law degree, or four years if you have a non-law degree.
After completing a law degree, or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) if you're a non-law graduate, you will need to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
Following on from your LPC, you will need to complete a two-year training contract with a law firm where you work and study concurrently. During your training contract, you will also complete the Professional Skills Course (PSC) in order to qualify as a solicitor.
The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL, also known as the CPE) is a law conversion course for non-law graduates. The GDL takes one year to complete with full-time study.
Prospective students need to apply for the course in the final year of their undergraduate degree, from September onwards. There is no set closing date for applications and they are reviewed by institutions weekly. Students who are seeking sponsorship from a law firm for the GDL (and LPC) will need to apply to firms that recruit two years in advance.
Some firms may offer sponsorship for the GDL. See the link below for details. Students who are self-funding should be aware that the Government's postgraduate study loan does not apply to the GDL or LPC and the standard way of funding the course without sponsorship is via a high street bank loan.
The Legal Practice Course is a one-year full-time vocational course run by a university. You apply for full-time courses through the LawCabs system. To apply for the two-year part-time course, you need to apply directly to the institution.
If you're doing a law degree, you can apply for the LPC during your final year. If you're doing the GDL conversion course, you will need to apply for the LPC during your course.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has announced a new standardised assessment for law and non-law graduates who want to qualify as a solicitor. From 2021, the solicitors qualification exam (SQE) will replace the current system and require graduates to sit two exams - the SQE 1 & SQE 2 and complete a period of qualifying work experience.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives offers training on the job for people working in legal executive/paralegal positions.
You can also qualify as a solicitor via this training route. While training takes longer, it's less costly and you don't need to complete a training contract. if you complete it before an LPC.
The QLTS enables lawyers who have qualified outside the UK to practise as a solicitor in the UK