Our guide to law

Our guide to law

First published date February 14 2014 Amended date July 13 2015

Law is relevant to everybody, not just those who work in the legal profession. Law provides the frameworks to our society, directly affecting and regulating most aspects of our lives. Whether you want to kick start a career in law or broaden your academic knowledge, one of the many law courses available could be perfect for you.


Law in London

London is the hub of UK law and is the foundation of laws for over one third of the world’s population. Common law originated in Britain in the middle ages and countries that can trace their heritage as former colonies of the British Empire will use parts of common law. The process of passing UK laws all happens in London; from the House of Lords to Buckingham Palace London is the place to be for aspiring lawyers. London is also home to the City of London Law Society which is one of the largest law societies in the UK. With 17,000 practising solicitors, their membership makes up 15% of the legal profession in England and Wales. Other law monuments such as the Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey, are famous around the world for featuring in popular culture such as the novel, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Trials here are open to the public so make sure you check some out to see what skills you need to be a lawyer.


What you’ll learn

Don’t worry you won’t be expected to learn every single law and legislation in the history of the United Kingdom, but it won’t be easy. The complexity of what you’ll learn will depend on the type of course you want to study. If you want to take a law course to broaden your academic knowledge then you can take an introductory course in law, this will help to develop your understanding of law and will give you a brief outline of different laws in the UK and throughout history. As you progress through the different courses, such as GCSE, AS and A level, your knowledge of UK law will grow. These courses will try to develop your overall knowledge but will mostly have a strong focus towards the history of law; they aim to prepare you for further education in law.  

A degree in law will teach you in-depth, about current and historical UK law. A law degree will usually last three years and teach you six core modules to help you on your way to a career in law. The core modules are; criminal law, public law, property law, equity and the law of trusts, law of the European Union and obligations, including contract, restitution and tort. These courses will provide the frameworks to your career as a lawyer.


Qualifying as a lawyer

Once you have finished an undergraduate degree in law you will be able to start training as a solicitor. You will be required to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which will last one year. The LPC is often over £10,000, however at this stage it is possible to get a training contract from a law firm who will pay for your tuition. After passing your LPC you will be required to find a two year training contract; this is two years spent learning in an authorised establishment, usually a solicitors firm. This will be hard and competitive at first, but once successful it will be worth it. In London the average trainee is paid £25,000.

If you have taken a degree that isn’t law related then successfully taking and passing a law conversion course, Graduat Diploma in Law (GDL), will put you on an equal platform to those who studied undergraduate law. However, if you don’t want to qualify as a solicitor or barrister then you can still have a successful career in the legal profession. Careers such as paralegal, law commission research assistant, legal publishing and chartered legal executive, are all jobs that will require the knowledge you gained from your course but will not require any extra qualifications. Other careers outside of law can include; government, banking and finance, journalism, social work and teaching.


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