Law qualifications can be confusing but you can simplify the English and Welsh legal professions by dividing them into two sections; barristers and solicitors. It is becoming more difficult to separate the work of barristers and solicitors as some solicitors can now stand up in court.

Since 1994 and the Access to Justice Act, solicitors have been granted what are called higher court rights of audience, which allow them to present cases in court as well as to prepare cases. Solicitors can therefore handle cases from the police station through to the highest court of appeal. Barristers, on the other hand, continue to focus solely on presenting cases in court and are specifically trained in advocacy and the skills needed to present a case.

It is important that you choose early on in your law education whether you want to be a solicitor or a barrister as the training varies.

Law qualifications and training for barristers

  • You must complete a law degree or a conversion course in law.
  • If you want to be a barrister then you will need to take the Bar Vocational Course (BVC).
  • You will also need to undergo a year long pupillage.

Law qualifications and training for solicitors

  • To be a solicitor you will need to have completed a law degree or conversion course in law.
  • If you aspire to be a solicitor then you will need to complete the Legal Practice Course.
  • Solicitors also have to do a two year training contract.

Requirements for working in the UK as a lawyer

  • To work in the UK as a lawyer you need a degree or Graduate Diploma in Law.
  • If you are qualified as a lawyer in a different country you will need to have your qualifications recognised by the Law Society.
  • If the Law Society accepts your qualifications you will need to take a Qualified Lawyer Transfer Test.
  • If you are a qualified lawyer from outside the EU then you will need to have two years practice of the UK law within the UK before your qualifications are recognised.
  • As a lawyer you will also need a CRB check which shows you do not have a prison record for abuse of children or other vulnerable people.

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