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Non-law graduate training contract

by Minoas Vitalis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Non-law graduate training contracts are seen as a way of getting into the legal profession for many non-law students. It is important to remember that these placements are very competitive and you will need to demonstrate your commitment and dedication to be successful. 

Many law firms actively encourage non-law graduates to apply for their training contracts, as they feel that such individuals will have a greater understanding of the business world and be able to offer new perspectives. Law firms feel that those who did not study law at University will often have a greater ability to think outside the box when it comes to legal problems. Some firms may prefer candidates who have studied business-related degrees, such as economics or management, while others may prefer those with more traditional academic backgrounds, such as English or history.

The most important thing is to demonstrate that you have the skills and attributes that the firm is looking for. Some firms will offer their non-law graduate trainees a reduced number of training contract places, while others will treat them exactly the same as law graduates. Even if you have not taken a law degree, there are still many ways that you can demonstrate your commitment to a career in law. Many non-law students take part in mock trials, Pro Bono work, or internships in order to gain some experience and show their dedication.

What is a law conversion course?

There are many recognised law conversion courses available for non-law graduates, which will allow you to acquire the necessary legal knowledge.  These courses can be completed in one year full-time, or two years part-time. You will need to be aware that these courses are extremely intense, and you will need to have a high level of dedication in order to succeed.

Most law schools will offer a variety of different types of law conversion courses, so it is important to do your research and find the one that is right for you. After successfully completing a law conversion course, you will then be able to apply for a training contract. Most common examples of law conversion courses are the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL).

Is it the same as the graduate diploma in law (GDL) or postgraduate diploma in law (PGDL)?

Now that the SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Examination) has been introduced, the GDL and PGDL will no longer be required as a way of qualifying as a solicitor. You no longer need to have completed a law degree or GDL in order to sit for the SQE. This means that, technically, you could apply for a training contract as soon as you have finished your undergraduate degree.

However, most firms still prefer candidates who have either completed a law degree or a GDL/PGDL. This is because candidates who have done either of these two qualifications will have already gained some legal knowledge and skills, which will make the transition into the working world much easier. Besides that, passing the SQE without any kind of law education or knowledge is extremely difficult, so it is not really recommended that you attempt to do so.

It is also important to note that if you’re a non-law graduate who started his/her GDL or LPC studies or training contract before the introduction of the new system, you have the option of qualifying under the old rules until 2032.  If you do not belong in the group of people who can qualify under the old rules, you will need to take and pass the SQE in order to become a solicitor.

So, if you’re a non-law graduate who is interested in pursuing a career in law, there are many options available to you.  You can either study for a law degree, or you can complete a law conversion course. Alternatively, you could attempt to pass the SQE without any prior legal knowledge or education. Whichever route you choose, it is important to demonstrate your commitment to a career in law and show that you have the skills and attributes that the firm is looking for.

The skills needed to become a successful lawyer

The skills needed to become successful in any field are always being debated.  However, when it comes to lawyers, there are certain skills that are always mentioned as being essential.

Some of the skills that are most commonly cited as being essential for lawyers are:

  • Commercial Awareness 

This is the ability to understand how businesses work, and what their objectives are.  Lawyers need to be able to see both the legal and commercial implications of any situation. Commercial Awareness is important because it allows lawyers to identify potential legal problems that a company may be facing, and it also allows them to see opportunities that the company could take advantage of.

  • Communication Skills

Lawyers need to be able to communicate effectively, both in writing and verbally. They need to be able to explain complex legal concepts in a way that is easy for non-lawyers to understand. Furthermore, lawyers need to be able to draft documents such as contracts, letters, and memos in a clear and concise manner.

  • Language Skills

In today’s globalised world, it is becoming increasingly important for lawyers to have language skills.  Many international law firms have clients from all over the world, so being able to communicate with them in their own language is a valuable skill.  Furthermore, many legal documents are written in foreign languages, so being able to understand and interpret them is also a valuable skill.

If you can demonstrate that you have these kinds of skills, then you will be well on your way to securing a training contract.

To sum up, as a non-law graduate, you are not at a disadvantage when it comes to securing a training contract.  You will need to show that you have the same dedication and commitment to a career in law as law graduates, and you will also need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills and attributes.  If you can do this, then you will be in a strong position to secure a training contract.

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Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.
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