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My route to qualification

how to become a family lawyer or divorce lawyer

Our colleague Solicitor Hannah Bower, who has recently qualified, tells us about her route to qualification.

Prior to making our UCAS applications, as part of a wider careers initiative, my school arranged for two barristers to come and speak to give us an insight in to the life of a lawyer. Unfortunately, they were obviously having a bad day and it is safe to say that they did not inspire me to want to become a lawyer – the focus was predominantly on the long hours and the expense of qualifying with no guarantee of a job at the end. So, unsurprisingly, at the age of 17 I didn’t think that becoming a lawyer sounded particularly appealing and instead I decided to go to university and study a more general subject which had always interested me at school. In September 2013 I went to Newcastle University and studied an undergraduate degree in Geography and Planning.

I graduated in the summer of 2016 and a few months later decided that I still wanted to pursue a career in law. The route to qualification usually either involves completing a law degree or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Once you have completed these you would then start your two year training period. The route to qualification which I took was slightly different.

I started the GDL at City University. The GDL essentially condenses a three year law degree in to one. Following this I was fortunate enough to start a month long work placement with Rayden Solicitors. Luckily for me this evolved in to a year contract as a Paralegal with the firm, which subsequently led to me being offered a training contract. However, I still had not completed the LPC and this was something which I had to do in order to qualify as a solicitor. Unbeknown to me, there were actually a few different options for how you can study the LPC – I decided to work part time throughout my training contract and attend university on a Wednesday. This meant that I was completing my period of recognized training alongside studying the LPC (something which I don’t think many people know is actually an option). You can also study the LPC at weekends and in the evenings so how you choose to do it is personal preference. However, if you don’t study the LPC full time it will take two years to complete as opposed to one. For me, studying on a Wednesday worked really well – although at times it was difficult juggling both fee earning work and studying, I think that this helped develop some of the key skills which are essential for a good lawyer.

Qualifying via this route took me a total of 4 years (7, if you include my first undergraduate degree) which is actually really quick – the “standard” route takes a minimum of 6 years. Therefore, this is definitely a route which I would encourage people to consider. The key is finding a training contract with a great firm who are understanding of the fact you are also studying – something which Rayden Solicitors were incredibly supportive of!

Fortunately for me, my experience of the law and becoming a solicitor has been a much more positive experience than the one presented to me at the age of 17. There are lots of different routes to qualification so you can find the one best suited to you and although the different routes can seem long, expensive and daunting, it is definitely one which will pay off in the end.

If you want to find out more about training contracts with Rayden Solicitors please contact our HR department at

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