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19 March 2024

Considering converting to law? Here are five myths around the process we’re debunking

Published on 19 March 2024

When it comes to law conversion programmes there are a lot of opinions and misconceptions floating around. In this article, we're clearing up five myths to help clarify exactly what to expect on a law conversion programme and what is necessary and what isn't, so let's dive right in!

  1. It’s just like on the TV

We all love a good legal drama, and there’s nothing wrong with your interest in law first being ignited by a riveting episode of Suits, but know that a legal career is rarely like what’s shown on the screen. Dramas show only the best bits - not the real bits! Just like being a doctor isn’t much like Grey’s Anatomy, the realities of working as a solicitor or barrister focus less on shocking twists and glamour and more on academic interest, critical thinking and upholding the law. So make sure you know the reality of what working in law is, whether it’s for a firm, in a company or otherwise, before you decide to commit to converting. There are lots of ways you can do this. A great start is by looking into influencers in the legal industry on social media, who are currently studying or are a practising solicitor (Instagram and TikTok are great for this). You can see a realistic day in the life, plus the usual aches and pains of the career, to be sure it is right for you. We also have a free guide on the topic which outlines the different paths you might take to the law profession, as well as experience from different lawyers in various areas of practice. 

  1. You must have work experience in a law firm to qualify via the SQE once you convert

Sometimes it can feel daunting thinking about law conversion, especially when witnessing everyone scrambling around trying to get training contracts and wondering whether you need to do that or how you'll even compete against those with law degrees or legal experience. The great news is that via the SQE you don't specifically need paid legal firm experience to count towards your QWE. In terms of generally gaining experience in law firms, if you can manage in-person experience, any time spent in a setting connected to law is great. Perhaps you could shadow the in-house legal team in a charity or otherwise. If in-person experience is a barrier for you, many online virtual work experience programs are also an option. Forage offers up to 9 hours of virtual ‘placements’ from various firms including Slaughter and May, Clifford Chance, Pinsent Masons and other large organisations. In these simulated placements, you’ll practice typical duties associated with the role you are interested in. Equally, any time spent on online webinars or firm open days/career fairs at university where you can meet with the law firm you're interested in, will be useful in your application. You can visit the College's career hub for resources to help you on your journey.

  1. Not having an undergraduate law background sets you behind other candidates 

You may look at your friends or colleagues who began their legal trajectory at undergraduate level, and think you’ve wasted time or missed a trick. This really isn’t the case. A career in law is embedded in real-life scenarios, so any time spent in a previous career or degree will still be useful, and likely, very applicable to your future career through transferable skills. Having more than one career or academic experience under your belt, in fact, could give you the edge when it comes to applying for competitive trainee firm programs. As the law has evolved, so have the expectations and needs of clients, who look for legal representatives with real-life experience and a breadth of skills, not just in the law itself. 

  1. Previous jobs won’t be relevant (from shop assistants to vets and beyond) 

No job is too bizarre or irrelevant! Whether you have worked as a police officer, a vet, a shoe salesperson or a shop assistant - all time spent in the workplace will be relevant to a role in law. Law, in essence, is about knowledge and service. Serving your community through to serving a customer will provide you with great experience to apply to serving a legal client. Don’t underestimate your transferable skills! Any job that requires problem-solving or patience will too set you in great stead for your time as a solicitor or barrister.

  1. It’s not affordable 

Any new program or training path is likely to cost you money. There is no getting around this - but the level of affordability and the way a course fits around your commitments does vary considerably from provider to provider. 

Many students choose The College of Legal Practice’s conversion course due to our competitive fee structure. We want to make law accessible and as affordable as possible, and work on a not-for-profit basis to achieve this. As a result, our GDL is 61% cheaper than the average course cost for other institutions. So, you can continue working within a career you already have, or pick up part-time work to carry out alongside your studies, all while knowing you’ve received the best value for money from a well-esteemed provider. 

Interested in learning more about our law conversion course? Discover our accredited Graduate Diploma in Law now.