May 24, 2024

Written By Syndy Liew

The Ultimate Guide for Non-Law Graduates Considering a Legal Career

May 24, 2024

Written By Syndy Liew

This article provides a comprehensive guide for non-law graduates considering pursuing a legal career in the UK. We will cover the relevant training and regulatory requirements, educational pathways and courses, navigating the application process as a non-law graduate, gaining practical experience, developing legal skills and knowledge, securing employment, and continuing professional development.

Understanding the Legal Profession

Let’s begin by looking at key roles within the legal profession. 

Solicitors: A solicitor is a qualified legal professional who provides legal support and advice on various areas of law. To qualify as a solicitor, all prospective solicitors must pass the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and two years of qualifying work experience (QWE) which can be undertaken before, during or after completing the SQE1 and 2. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales.

Barristers: A barrister represents and advocates for their clients in court or tribunal. To qualify as a barrister, aspiring barristers must pass the Bar Practice Course (BPC) and complete vocational bar training, followed by a pupillage. To find out more about barristers, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) is the regulatory body for barristers in England and Wales.

Paralegals: A paralegal provides a wide range of administrative and legal support for other legal professionals.

Exploring Educational Pathways

Non-law graduates are required to undertake law conversion courses to bring non-law graduates up to speed on the legal profession. The most common law conversion course is the one-year Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL). Law conversion courses teach non-law graduates to think like a lawyer and prepare for the realities of life in legal practice. 

After completing the PGDL, aspiring barristers will move onto the Bar Course, while aspiring solicitors will take on further prep for the SQE before sitting the SQE1 and 2.

Applying for Conversion Courses

Navigating the application process for conversion courses as a non-law graduate can be tricky, but it doesn’t need to be!

Your first step should be to research conversion courses with education providers thoroughly. This is important, as some law conversion courses may offer the option to integrate a master’s qualification into the conversion courses, which makes the conversion course eligible for student loan funding. 

You should then prepare your application documents for your chosen conversion course. 

Students apply for the PGDL in their final year of an undergraduate degree through the Central Applications Board. You should check the eligibility criteria and entry requirements for the course with the course providers before beginning an application. In general, you will need academic documentation (transcript, final transcript and/or degree certificate), personal statement, reference and/or passport details (for those applying from outside of the UK).

Developing Legal Skills and Knowledge

During legal study, you will develop essential legal skills such as legal research, writing, analysis, and advocacy through academic studies. Keep an eye out for opportunities provided by your education providers to build your legal skills and knowledge, such as workshops, pro bono work, networking events, panel events and law fairs.  

You should also stay informed about legal developments, cases, and trends to remain competitive in the legal job market, which will help you in deciding your career decisions in the legal sector. To stay commercially aware, you can subscribe to bitesize newsletter such as Finimize, the Financial Times and the FT News Briefing podcast. 


Securing Employment in the Legal Sector

When it comes to looking for employment in the legal sector as a non-law graduate, think hard about what aspect of the legal profession appeals to you and the type of law (commercial law, family law, criminal law, litigation etc) that interests you. Both these considerations should help you discern the right path for you, but make sure that you keep an open mind.

Once you know which area of law is right for you, make sure that you tailor job applications, cover letters and resumes to the role. Research the firms or chambers thoroughly so that you can tailor your application according to their unique selling points, such as their culture, practice areas and type of clients they service. 

You should also elaborate how your non-law background, skills and experiences connect with the firm’s value and your motivation for applying to the firm. Highlight your transferable skills which your non-law background has given you. 

There are many resources on AllAboutLaw on preparing compelling personal statements and CVs tailored to the legal profession, so be sure to check them out!

If you are selected for an interview, make sure you practice beforehand - practice really does make perfect! In preparing for interviews, research the prospective employers and practice responses to common interview questions, such as motivational questions, competency-based questions, and situational questions. 


Having a non-law background is incredibly valuable in the legal profession given that law interacts across different sectors and industries. To stand out as an applicant in the legal profession, it is key for you to show that the decision to pursue law is a considered option, and for you to emphasise your transferable skills. Remember - your non-law background is your strength!


Non-Law Students