Training contract applications can be a lengthy and stressful process, so before you embark on such a journey, you should make sure you’re eligible to apply for a training contract in the first place!
This may seem like a strange thing to check eligibility for, but with so many different paths ending up at the same destination, you may be wondering where precisely you’re at on that path, and whether you need to do anything extra before getting stuck into those training contract applications.
First things first, all trainees, regardless of education route, need to have completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC). This is an absolute must and can’t be bypassed, circumnavigated or avoided in any other way whatsoever.
Traditional route into a training contract
Traditionally, in order to be eligible for a training contract, you had to pack up your things and trot off to university and complete an undergraduate degree. You can still do this of course, but training contract eligibility depends on what course you’re doing, as most firms hire two years in advance.
If you’re doing a law degree, you’re eligible to apply for a training contract in your penultimate year of university. Bearing in mind that you’ll have to work for our old friend the LPC for a year, the penultimate year of your undergraduate degree is the time to apply for training contracts. You can’t start the training contract until you have completed the LPC of course, but your training provider may cough up the fees for this so you don’t have to!
Law firms are aware that good lawyers don’t always do a law degree, which is why a law career is available to those doing non-law degrees. However, in order to be eligible for a training contract you need a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Graduate LLB. These provide you with the same knowledge and skills of an undergraduate law degree but in a shorter amount of time, usually one or two years.
After your GDL or Graduate LLB (use this article to help you decide which course is more ideal for you) you need to do the LPC. Bearing this in mind and the fact that firm recruit two years in advance, you need to apply for a training contract in your final year of university.
Until very recently, it only used to be university graduates who were eligible for training contracts. However, with the introduction of new measures by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), paralegals who can demonstrate “other assessed learning and work-based learning” through “equivalent means” and who have also completed the LPC can be eligible for a training contract. This is by no means an easier route to a training contract and simply means the pool of competition is much wider.
There we have it, the two routes you can take on the way to a training contract, happy applying!