This is the final step in the Student Employability Programme. Whether you’ve secured a training contract or pupillage, or you’re still looking for your first legal role, this Step looks at your options and the steps you can take to achieve your ambitions.
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Training as a solicitor
With the roll out of the new SQE route to training as a solicitor, there are many of changes taking place and potentially a lot more variation than under the previous regulations. However, in principle, many of the element of training remain the same. Training typically last two years and large firms usually provide opportunities to experience law in different areas of the firm (sometimes called seats). Smaller firms are more flexible in their approach and under the new SQE route, it is easier to build up experience over a number of different employers.
Tips to impress during your training
- Your attitude – you should be keen and confident, but not arrogant
- Good communication and client service skills
- Your research skills and your ability to apply your research to the matter in hand
- Commercial and business awareness from tasks such as time recording to marketing and business development.
Pupillage consists of two six-month periods of training usually undertaken over the course of 12 months in the same chambers.
The first of the six-month periods is non-practising meaning your time will be spent working with and observing your pupil supervisor. Typical tasks during this period include researching points of law, drafting advice and opinions, attending court and client conferences, and preparing skeleton arguments or pleadings.
If you successfully complete your first six you will receive a Provisional Practising Certificate, enabling you to provide legal services and exercise your Rights of Audience during the second ‘practising’ six months of pupillage With the permission of your supervisor, you can then take on your own work and represent others.
For those who intend to practise at the self employed Bar, in addition to completing pupillage and passing the courses stipulated by the Bar Standards Board, you will need to secure tenancy – this is a position in a set of chambers as a working, fully qualified, barrister. If you are not offered tenancy by your chambers at the end of your second six, you have a number of options:
- Apply for tenancy in another chambers
- Secure a third six pupillage at a different set of chambers from where you undertook your first and second six
- ‘Squat’ in your current chambers as a short term arrangement, allowing you to take on work, but not as a member of chambers.
For barristers who undertook their training ‘In-house’ the same principle applies – you will need to be kept on by your employer in order to continue to practise, or you will need to look elsewhere for practising opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my LPC go out of date?
If you studied via the LPC route and are still looking for a training position, there are several factors you will need to keep in mind in addition to the longevity of the LPC. The LPC qualification did not go ‘stale’ but, with the change to the training routes for solicitors, the SRA have put a limit on the transition period (currently 2032) after which point all solicitors will have to qualify via the new route – therefore, the LPC is only valid until then. However, while that date is some time away, more immediately, firms are starting to change their training practises to aligned them with the SQE route. There are lots of similarities, and it is possible for LPC graduates to ‘convert’ to qualifying under the SQE regime – look at the SRA website for more information – but there are various factors you need to weigh up. If possible, speak to a member of the Careers team who’ll be able to help you consider the best options based on your particular circumstances.
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