Professional qualifications

Law clinic

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Putting what you learn in lectures into practice is the best way to develop your legal skills. In our Essex Law Clinic you'll work alongside practising lawyers to advise real clients on real issues.

The provision of legal services is rapidly changing, with exciting new opportunities opening up. We'll help you navigate through the maze. Lawyers work in a wide range of roles – advising businesses, individuals and public bodies and representing clients in courts and tribunals. We're a global law school, with many of our graduates moving into legal careers outside the UK.

England and Wales

All our LLB courses are 'qualifying law degrees', through which you complete the academic stage of legal education. After this, you can progress through further vocational study and practical training to obtain a professional legal qualification.

  • To become a solicitor, currently (see below) you take a one-year Legal Practice Course and then complete a two-year training contract. There are more than 130,000 solicitors working in a wide variety of law firms and in government dealing with a whole range of legal transactions and disputes for businesses, individuals and other organisations. Some solicitors, with further training, represent clients in court.
  • To become a barrister, you take the one-year Bar Professional Training Course followed by a one-year pupillage. About 15,000 barristers practice as self-employed professionals, offering specialist legal advice on complex matters and representing clients in courts and tribunals. Some barristers are employed as in-house counsel by businesses, government and the Crown Prosecution Service.
  • To become a chartered legal executive, you take the CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma. Currently there are almost 8,000 legal executives, most of them working in law firms. They do similar kinds of work to solicitors.
  • To become a licensed conveyancer, you take a part-time course authorised by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers while working. There are more than 1,000 licensed conveyancers who specialise in the legal process of transferring property from one person to another; some also deal with wills and probate when a person dies.
  • It's increasingly common for law graduates to work as paralegals in law firms without a formal professional qualification in law or as a stepping-stone to obtaining a professional qualification.
Changes to the pathway to becoming a solicitor

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has announced it will be introducing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). The earliest date for introduction is September 2020. This will be a national assessment for anyone who wants to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales. It will provide a fair and consistent assessment for all candidates regardless of whether they have taken a law degree or qualified through new routes like the solicitor apprenticeship.

If you have already started your law degree, or will do so before the SQE is introduced, you will be able to finish and qualify in the same way as before or qualify under the new system.

Under the current system you must complete both the academic and vocational stages of training as well as meeting the character and suitability requirements to become a solicitor. The academic stage is achieved by either a) a qualifying law degree or b) a non law degree in a different subject and completing the Common Professional Examination. The vocational stage comprises:

  • the Legal Practice Course
  • a two year period of recognised training
  • the Professional Skills Course
So what will qualifying look like for solicitors after 2020?
  • having a degree or equivalent
  • two stages of the SQE assessment
  • having a two year period of work experience
  • meeting the character and suitability requirements to become a solicitor

The SRA will be providing information and guidance about how to qualify in the new system so keep checking its website. Watch the SRA's video for more information.

France

The Maîtrise component of our LLB English and French Laws (with Maîtrise Master 1) (M122 LLB/EFLM) qualifies you to take professional law examinations in France. The two professional law exams most often taken up by our students are the certificat d’aptitude à la profession d’avocat (CAPA) and the competition to become a judge (Ecole nationale de la Magistrature).

Canada

You’ll need to demonstrate competence to the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA), which assesses the qualifications of anyone with legal qualifications obtained outside of Canada who wishes to be admitted to a common law bar in Canada. This involves completing more modules, either studying from home or at a law school in Canada (or a combination of the two). Once you’ve successfully completed the NCA requirements, you’ll be awarded a Certificate of Qualification, accepted by most Canadian law societies for entry to their bar admissions process.

Other jurisdictions

Essex law graduates can be found working in law in many other jurisdictions. If this is a career path for you, we’ll support your ambitions.

frontrunners placements

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frontrunners is our original placement scheme that offers students paid work opportunities on campus. You'll get on-placement training and great experience to add to your CV.

Essex Interns

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Internships are an excellent way to earn money and develop a stand-out CV. Register with us for information on paid internship opportunities with local, national and even international employers.

Human rights clinic

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Our Human Rights Clinic gives you practical experience of working on real human rights issues alongside our experienced academics and allows you to take an active role in your own professional development.

Learn languages

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All our students can learn languages in a number of ways, including as part of your degree, in evening classes or online at no extra cost, or via Essex Modern Language Certificates.