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How to Transition from Paralegal to Solicitor

law

Working as a paralegal offers a stepping stone to a prosperous legal career, opening doors to the possibility of qualifying as a solicitor.

Positioned for progression:

Obtaining experience within a paralegal job allows aspiring solicitors to develop a deep understanding of legal procedures, case law, and client management; alongside, the exposure to multiple areas of law from family / matrimonial to corporate law, criminal law and litigation. The cultivation of skills from critical thinking, problem-solving, and attention to detail, offer a strong foundation for employees looking to transition from paralegal to solicitor.

As part of a legal team, paralegals, whether working in-house or practice, have the chance to network with experienced professionals; building acute relationships with solicitors, barristers, and other legal professionals that facilitate and aid career advancement. Equally, your experience as a paralegal can be counted towards your two years’ qualifying work experience should you wish to go on to do your Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

Transitioning from paralegal to solicitor:

How you make the move from paralegal to solicitor depends on whether you possess a qualifying law degree or a degree in another discipline (such as an Ofqual Level 6 qualification).

There are two possible routes to qualifying as a solicitor for those with a qualifying law degree:

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Apply to the Legal Practice Course (LPC) - offered at a cost of £12,000 - £17,000 depending on the training provider.

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An alternative route to the LPC, aspiring solicitors can go through the Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination (SQE). The SQE1 and SQE2 exams cost a total of £4,000, with the preparation for these two courses costing up to £6,000 (an approximated £10,000 in total, subject to any possible discounts).

For those with a degree in another discipline, you can follow:

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The Post Graduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) - a law conversion course taking one year to complete. The course costs between £7,000 - £13,000, once completed you go on to do the LPC.

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The alternative is to go straight into the SQE1 and SQE2. The latter route is far less costly than completing the PGDL and LPC which in total can cost up to £30,000.

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Upon completion of both qualification, and two years’ qualifying experience, you will need to pass the SRA’s character and suitability test. The route to becoming a solicitor takes the average candidate around six years.

Working as a paralegal practitioner:

Working as a paralegal practitioner is an excellent alternative for those who don’t wish to undertake the process of qualifying as a solicitor. Three years of paralegal work count towards the relevant legal experience required to apply for a NALP Licence to Practise. Being a member of NALP entitles you, subject to the requisite qualifications and/or experience and fulfilment of eligibility criteria, to apply for a Licence to Practise in the areas of law in which you can provide evidence of expertise and experience.

As an alternative, you can work in a variety of sectors as a paralegal, from private client to personal injury. Whatever path you choose, totallylegal are here to aid you at every step of the way.


 

Discover the totallylegal career blog, offering advice on:

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Paralegal apprenticeships

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The role of a paralegal

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The role of a solicitor

This article was provided by Amanda Hamilton, Patron of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP).