The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Career timetable: solicitors

For help with all of these and more, use LawCareers.Net’s starting out section.

First, you need to be aware that in 2021, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is introducing a new ‘super exam’, which all prospective solicitors will have to pass in order to qualify. The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is due to be introduced in September 2021. Anyone who starts a law degree, GDL or LPC before the SQE is introduced in 2021 should not be affected unless they choose to be. There will be a long transition period of several years from 2021 in which candidates who are already on one of the former courses will be able to qualify as solicitors in the ‘old’ way. However, although the SRA will continue to recognise the LPC until as late as 2032, candidates won’t necessarily have that long to qualify while avoiding the SQE. The training committee of the City of London Law Society, which represents City firms, has said that firms will not want to run two separate qualification systems alongside each other and are therefore likely to insist that all future hires take the SQE from 2022. However, anyone currently doing a LLB, GDL or LPC in 2021 will not be affected. Until September 2021, the current route remains in place which is explainedbelow remains correct. For more on the SQE, read the SRA chapter on p131 and keep up with the latest information and advice on LawCareers. Net and on the SRA website at uk/home/hot-topics/Solicitors-Qualifying- Examination. First-year law and second-year non-law students As you consider this career path, ask yourself the following question: • What does it mean to be a solicitor? • Am I cut out for the work? • Why do I want to be a solicitor rather than a barrister? • Do I want to practise in London or the regions? • In which practice area?

You should try to arrange some summer work experience to begin checking out the different types of firm (note that some formal work placement schemes don’t take place for another year, though). Above all, work at achieving and maintaining good grades: when it comes to applying for formal work placement schemes and training contracts - firms will definitely want to know your first and second-year grades, not just what degree you’ve ended upwith. Second-year law and final-year non-law students Autumn term, winter holidays and spring term Decide whether you genuinely believe that law is a career which will suit your character and skills through further research into the profession. Go to your careers advice service and discuss the profession generally with a careers adviser. Attend law firm presentations on campus and at firms’ offices, and develop your networking skills. Research and apply for work placement schemes (which take place every winter, spring and summer). Attending vacation schemes is a great way to get a feel for the range and types of practice available to you. See Work placement scheme deadlines for closing dates. The big annual training contract application deadline shared by many firms is 31 July. However, firms are free to recruit and offer training contracts at any time, so increasingly there are vacancies to apply to all year round. Most university law careers fairs take place in October/November – with online events set for Autumn 2020 due to coronavirus. They represent your best chance to meet people from the firms face to face. It is best to have done some preliminary research so you can ask intelligent questions. Many firms also organise on-campus presentations during these two terms.



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