What is the GDL?

  • Last updated Jan 24, 2019 12:58:04 PM
  • By Jos Weale, Managing Editor, AllAboutLaw.co.uk

GDL stands for the Graduate Diploma in Law. This is a year-long full-time mandatory course for all graduates who didn’t study a qualifying LLB degree. If you’re a non-law graduate who has heard their calling to a law career, then you will have to be up-to-speed about this essential qualification.

Who can apply for the GDL?

The GDL is all part of earning your stripes as an aspiring lawyer. It allows you to convert your non-law degree in one, intense burst of study and examinations. You just need an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in any discipline to apply. The GDL only takes one year to complete, but the course will be very intensive, covering what LLB students studied over three years.

What happens after the GDL?

On completion of the course, you will have covered the core areas of law and be ready for your next hurdle on the road to becoming a qualified lawyer: the LPC (for the solicitor route) or the BPTC (for those bound for the Bar). After choosing one of those two courses, it'll be time to start your training contract or pupillage, and before you know it you'll be a qualified solicitor or barrister.

The fast-track nature of the GDL means that you will squish three years of undergraduate law degree knowledge into a very short time period. Although this might be stressful at the time, it means that you'll only be a year behind those who did study for an LLB.

One of the requirements of law firms and chambers is that their trainees and pupils from non-law undergraduate disciplines have completed the GDL. Without the GDL, you simply aren't qualified to be a practising lawyer. Although there are legal careers, such as paralegals, which you could still go into without conquering the conversion course, there's no way around it if you want to be a solicitor or barrister.

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