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Law Conversion Courses

Law Conversion CoursesPreviously, if you discovered your passion and motivation to pursue a legal career after having completed an undergraduate degree in a non-law subject, you could rely on law conversion courses to open the door for you to the legal field. A law conversion course is a postgraduate degree which equips non-law students with the necessary legal skills for progression to a career as a barrister or a solicitor.

These courses enable non-law students to satisfy the entry requirements to the professional legal training courses (LPC or BPTC) which they would otherwise be unable to do. 2021 has seen the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) being phased in. The SQE is a new centralised way for people to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales whether they have a law degree or a degree in another subject.The new SQE route to becoming a solicitor will see mean that the LPC will no longer be offered, althouhg it is reommended that students undertake some kind of postgraduate law studies – for example a Graduate Diploma of Law – to prepare for the SQE.

Overview, admissions & costs

Law conversion courses are known with a variety of different names which may vary with the institution such as the Graduate Diploma of Law and Common Practice Exam with no significant difference between the content of the courses. The aim of a law conversion course is to provide understanding of foundational legal concepts and core set of skills which will be required in the legal profession and training. The duration of the course is generally one year (full-time) or two years (part-time). As the course seeks to act as replacement for LLB (Bachelor of Laws) which is usually taught over three years, it may be quite intensive.

The education authority, Joint Academic Stage Board administers the legal conversion courses. In terms of the content of the courses there are seven foundation modules that are to be studied compulsorily; (i) contract law (ii) tort law (iii) criminal law (iv) public law (including constitutional law, administrative law and human rights) (v) Property law (vi) Equity and law of trusts (vii) Law of the European Union.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for the law conversion courses a student must have an undergraduate degree from a UK institution or its equivalent in any discipline with a minimum of a 2.2 classification or its equivalent. It is also generally mandatory to provide evidence of English language proficiency. In order to gain entry into the top institutions, your application form should provide convincing reasons for choosing a legal career, outlining your aspirations and offering evidence of your commitment to the profession. Applications for courses in England and Wales can be made via the Central Applications Board.

Cost of law conversion courses

The costs of undertaking a legal conversion course depend to a large extent on where you decide to undertake the course. For example, the costs of studying in London will be higher as compared to the other cities in the UK, as well as living tends to be more expensive in London. These are important factors to consider when choosing the institution you wish to attend. On average the fees range from £7,000-10,000. 

Where to study your law conversion course

A variety of institutions in the UK offer the legal conversion courses including University of Law, University of Nottingham, BPP Law School, Northumbria University, City University, London. While choosing the institution consider your personal preferences in terms of the reputation and ranking of the schools, the law course that suits you best, costs and geographical location.

What is the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)?

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is being phased in during 2021 as the new centralised way to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. It will replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which is the former route to practicing law, and once the transitional phase is over law schools in England and Wales will stop offering the LPC. The SQE is a new system of exams divided into two stages – SQE1 and SQE2 – that will be introduced from September 2021, and all prospective candidates will have to pass both stages of exams to qualify as a solicitor. As well as passing both stages of the SQE, prospective candidates must complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) and demonstrate that they have suitable character to work in this field.

Put simply, to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales through the new SQE route you need to:

1. Have a university degree in ANY subject.

2. Pass SQE1 and SQE2 exams.

3. Complete two years’ Qualifying Work Experience (QWE).

4. Demonstrate suitable character.

The SQE differs from the LPC in that it is a series of exams rather than an actual course, as a result of this the SQE does not involve any direct education or training. New law conversion course options will be launched alongside the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) to offer students a range of options to prepare for the SQE.

Read our article on the Solicitors Qualifying Examination for the complete lowdown.

LLMs Vs legal conversion courses

Legal conversion courses and the SQE are good options for students who wish to pursue a career as a solicitor or a barrister. Their focus tends to be on providing knowledge of a broad range of legal subjects to non-law students. On the other hand, the Master of Laws (LLM) does not lead to a professional degree and is more academic in nature. It is of particular importance if you have an area of genuine interest and want to specialize in that area of law. It therefore, provides a means to explore in depth an area of law. Often those students who wish to work in a specific area of law after graduation embark upon a Master of Laws course, for example Maritime Law or Intellectual Property Law.Both types of law course however, open an array of opportunities and improve employability. The choice tends to be a personal one. The courses are also not mutually exclusive so it is possible to pursue LLM at a later stage in one’s career. For example, after completing the legal conversion course and the LPC some practitioners undertake an LLM to gain in depth knowledge and specialisation in a niche area in which their legal practice may be based.


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