"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success." -Alexander Graham Bell

No matter what you set off to accomplish in life, it is essential to state that preparation is fundamental. Why's that? Practice sets apart the good from the great. Those who regularly try their best to assemble and put things together in their private or professional life are setting themselves up for productivity, efficiency, and less stressful moments caused by last-minute errors that could've been avoided.

Also, when it comes to studying for other education classes, preparation is necessary to get through all aspects of the learning process that eventually equate to a degree from a qualified university. The carefully planned out stages of Uni courses effectively prepare students for their future career, no matter what that employment position might be.

Therefore, without further delay, to effectively equip aspiring lawyers with the necessary information to become a lawyer, we shall the various qualifications and stages required to complete to receive a law diploma and to practice in the legal profession successfully.

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Secondary School Level: Which A-Levels and GCSEs Should I Study Before Entering Law School?

classroom qualifications
Before law school is even an option, secondary school students should prepare themselves by studying A-Level and GCSE subjects relevant to the law. (Source: Unsplash)

Contrary to popular belief, high school isn't just a prison that traps teenagers and forces them to learn unuseful topics that they will never utilise in real life. Instead, on the other hand, if you are severe enough to do so, secondary school is a perfect place to prepare for your future career. How's that?

Well, it's important to state that the classes you choose in the final years of secondary schooling, and the marks you receive on final exams, have a lot to do with which further education courses you will be eligible for and which schools will accept you for classes.

So, while asking teens to sit down, study, and pay attention may be quite the stretch, especially for those with learning difficulties, success during secondary school paves the way for triumphant moments at the best universities in the UK. 

And, while general GCSEs and A-Level courses such as maths, science, and English are appropriate for all types of future classes no matter the specific discipline a pupil may wish to study, if you want to become a lawyer, some topics of interest demonstrate to law school admission teams that you have the necessary skills. Such as?

A passionate high schooler with aspirations of working as a lawyer in a tall downtown building and making an above-average annual income must remember that any academic discipline that involves research, analysis, and communication will give them an edge in comparison to other law school applicants; which A-Level topics are those?

History, geography, modern languages, sciences, and maths are A-Level and GCSE topics that hone students' investigation skills, help them understand the world around them and aim to develop better communicators, all of which lawyers in trainee should possess.

It is essential to state that while specific GCSEs are better for students who aspire to become lawyers in the UK, most universities will look at the grades received from the topics studied during the A-Levels. To get a law degree, at least two A-Levels are required; three are more highly recommended and are considered essential to get into the most popular programmes.

Some A-Levels, such as PE, dance, or art, are not accepted by most unis in the United Kingdom. Also, five GCSEs are needed, such as English, maths, and a foreign language. 

During the A-Levels or GCSEs, students who have high hopes of studying law at prestigious universities such as Cambridge or Oxford need to do all they can to ensure that their marks are top-notch since the legal field is intellectually challenging extremely competitive.

In most cases, excellent A-Level grades demonstrate to law schools that you can handle the intense pressure of studying to become a barrister or solicitor.

So, before concluding this section, it is essential to state that if you thought that qualifying to become a lawyer only began during law school, you need to think twice since good grades in secondary school are indispensable in setting up an aspiring legal professional for success.

Which Specific Qualifications Does a Person Need Before Practising Law?

writing exams
After each stage of qualifying to become a lawyer, there are tricky examinations that make the process of studying law a challenge for some. (Source: Unsplash)

The process of becoming a lawyer takes a few years and includes many different aspects of training. Such as? Well, not only is it necessary to well-prepare at a secondary school level, after graduation, aspiring lawyers need to be ready for a few essential steps before they are qualified to practice law as a barrister or solicitor. What steps are those?

Without further ado, we shall analyse the three post-secondary essential stages required to qualify as a lawyer in the United Kingdom.

A Bachelor's in Law

While it is possible, in some cases, to practice law without a law degree (particular and few situations), the overwhelming majority of future lawyers become professionally qualified in all aspects of the legal field by embarking on one of the most daunting adventures of their life: attending law school.

Therefore, the most crucial step required before working as a lawyer is receiving a qualifying law degree (LLB) at a highly recommended university in the United Kingdom. An LLB can be defined as a Bachelor's in Law, and it takes approximately three years to complete.

Some UK-based unis offer a 2-year graduate entryor LLB, which is for students who have previously completed an undergraduate honours degree in another relevant topic of study. 

There are plenty of universities that offer LLBs for post-secondary students who possess top-notch grades in A-Levels and GCSEs during secondary school. Such as? The following are a few of the best universities to study for a law degree:

  • The University of Oxford,
  • The University of Cambridge,
  • King’s College London,
  • The University of Edinburgh,
  • Durham University,
  • The University of Glasgow. 

It is essential to state that if persons have already received a Bachelor's degree in another relevant topic, instead of starting over and finishing another three-year law programme, they may only need to complete an SQE training qualification to become knowledgeable in the legal field.

Additional Assessments

After lawyers in training have successfully received a law degree, as of September 2021, those who want to become solicitors must complete something known as the Solicitor's Qualifying Examination (SQE). The SQE is established by the SRA and must be studied by all prospective solicitors across the UK.

The SQE has two stages of assessments: SQE1 and SQE2. The first stage of the SQE focuses on legal knowledge and the second stage highlights how to hone practical legal skills. Before sitting in on the examinations of the SQE2, students need to have finished the qualifications of SQE1.

For more details about the new SQE programme and what needs to be done before starting the course, solicitors in training may visit the SRA website to learn more.

What about barristers? Must they also complete additional assessments to receive their degree? Yes. A qualifying examination of skills that regulate the abilities of solicitors in the UK, such as the SQE, is not for barristers; however, barristers must study and prepare for and take the Bar exam for at least a year after graduating from Uni.

Relevant Work Experience

After the sufficient qualifications have been completed, there is a final stage in the process of becoming a lawyer that both solicitors and barristers are required to finish. Such as? Relevant work experience.

Without practising their skills as barristers or solicitors in training, it is tough for lawyers to find work at law firms. Hence, that is why solicitors are required by the SRA to complete two years of qualifying legal work experience, and barristers are remarkably suggested to undergo one year of pupillage under the close supervision of a more experienced barrister in chambers.

How Else Should I Prepare to Study Law?

getting ready for law school
After becoming aware of all of the qualifications necessary to work as a barrister or solicitor in the UK, an aspiring must recognise that long hours of studying are a must. (Source: Unsplash)

Other than the qualifications that we mentioned in previously mentioned subheadings, it is essential to state that lawyers in training should qualify and prepare themselves by putting into practice the following suggestions:

  • Hone Relevant Skills: while getting excellent marks on exams and course work is an essential aspect of studying to become a lawyer, aspiring barristers and solicitors can also improve their personal and professional skills. Trained abilities such as time management, people skills, communication, and creativity are fantastic skills that all lawyers should force themselves to acquire.
  • Study: a lot of course material and cases are reviewed quite quickly during class time, and since there is so much information, many students get overwhelmed and burn out if they are not taking the time to study as much as they can. Find alternative methods to research and create a study group to make review sessions more enjoyable.

Also, it is essential to state that though lawyers dedicate long hours to their craft to become better and offer the best to their clients, that doesn't mean that a balanced work-life isn't possible.

In conclusion, by knowing what is expected of lawyers and the qualifications that must be completed, aspiring barristers and solicitors are more ready for the world of law ahead of them!

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.