How to become a lawyer

So, you’re interested in becoming a lawyer?

Becoming a lawyer is a big undertaking in terms of time commitment and financial investment, but the payoffs can be well worth it. There are many reasons as to why you may be interested in becoming a lawyer, be it the earning potential, the prestige, the opportunity to help others, the intellectual challenge, the diverse practice areas, the transferable skills, or many more!

This article outlines the steps to take to become a lawyer.

Topics to be answered in this article

What is a lawyer?

A lawyer is someone who studies and practices law to enable them to advise and assist clients with legal matters. Lawyers can be qualified (e.g. Solicitor, Chartered Legal Executive) or they can be unqualified (e.g. Paralegal).

Contrary to popular belief, nearly one-third of all lawyers are under thirty-five years old. Additionally, almost half of the law students today are women, and women may ultimately be as numerous in the profession as men.

What do lawyers / barristers do?

Typical duties for a qualified lawyer are providing legal advice, writing and drafting legal documents, conducting research into legal legislation and meeting with clients and other professionals. Some will also represent their clients in court but often a barrister is appointed for this. 

A barrister is required to be a specialist in court advocacy and provide legal advice to their clients. A barrister pleads the case in court on behalf of the client and the client’s solicitor.

How long does it take to and what is the process to become a lawyer?

This varies depending on which route you take and what your end goal. 

Becoming a solicitor will take a minimum of six years:

Law degree

If your degree is in another subject then you will need to do a conversion course, known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), which takes a year to complete (full-time) before you can commence the LPC. 

However, this “traditional” route to becoming a solicitor is beginning to change with the introduction of the Solicitor Qualifying Exams (SQE).

Legal Practice Course (LPC)

After completing a law degree, the next step would be to take the SQE 1 & 2 assessments rather than study the LPC. Upon successful completion of these assessments, you will then be required to undertake two years of qualifying work experience before applying to the SRA to be admitted as a solicitor. 


Another way to become a qualified lawyer is to study through CILEX. In late 2021 CILEX launched their CILEX Professional Qualification (CPQ) which is a competency based qualification which allows learners to complete each stage at their own pace, but they estimate the following:

  • CPQ Foundation stage – 18 month to two years

  • CPQ Advanced stage – 18 months to two years

  • CPQ Professional stage – 12 to 18 months

Legal Apprenticeships

Legal apprenticeships have gained popularity over the past few years, allowing the option of  work and study at the same time. 80% of the course involves working in a law firm to develop skills, legal knowledge and commercial awareness whilst the remaining 20% involves independent study. There are different options to consider:

How much does it cost to become a lawyer?

The cost of becoming a lawyer varies depending on what route you take and where you study. 

The average cost of a three year law degree in south west England is £30,000 and a further cost of around £13,000 is needed to complete the LPC. The cost of the SQE is lower, currently around £8,000 on average. The cost to complete the CPQ through the CILEX law school is £12,500. 

However, there’s no cost to you for doing an apprenticeship! To find out about Goughs apprenticeships, click here.

Vocational Component of Bar Training

To become a barrister you will need to complete a law degree or the GDL if your degree is in another subject, before going on to complete the LPC. Once you’ve done this you can take the BAR Practice Course (BPC)

The BPC covers areas such as advocacy, civil litigation and evidence, criminal litigation and evidence and sentencing. The course is designed to prepare students for pupillage and life at the BAR. 

The course duration is one year if taken full-time, two years if taken part-time with course fees starting at around £12,000. 

How can I find out more about becoming a Lawyer?

There’s lots more information on sites such as The University of LawProspects, or All About Law

You may also wish to have a look at our Careers pages, which offer further advice into pursuing various areas of law, as well as our current vacancies.

To get in touch, simply fill out the form below, or email

Click to share this article

Author Bio

Lauren Bridger

I joined Goughs in February 2012 having previously spent five years working in accounts for a global insurance company.

I became an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in 2016 having completed the Level 3 Diploma in Human Resource Practice.

I undertake a very broad HR role within the firm, with a particular focus on working closely with the partners in attracting and selecting the right people to meet the firm’s strategic objectives. I also work closely with other members of the HR team on developing key processes to enhance the performance of the firm and make Goughs a positive, supportive working environment.

Related Content

Unveiling the Legal Trio: Understanding the Distinctions Between Lawyers, Solicitors, and Barristers

Everything you need to know about becoming a solicitor

Let us search for you