Become a solicitor without a university degree

Is it possible to become a solicitor without a university degree?

Many people consider a career in the law but are put off by the lengthy academic and vocational training required to become a solicitor or barrister. There is however a way of qualifying as a lawyer without the need for a university degree.  

This is done by qualifying as a Legal Executive with the Institute of Legal Executives (“ILEX”). Many people may choose to take this root rather than the traditional roots to qualify as a solicitor as study can be combined with work and no formal qualifications are required before embarking on an ILEX course.

The course also allows you to train ‘on the job’ and receive first hand practical experience of the law you are studying. It is not however, the easy option, the ILEX route can take a number of years before qualification.

ILEX studies can also be carried out by distance learning which may be of use to some students.

If you become a ‘Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives’ before you decide to complete the Legal Practice Course (the vocational course that all potential solicitors must complete) you may be exempt from the Solicitors Regulation Authority Training Contract, a two year period of training required to become a solicitor following completion of the Legal Practice Course. The ILEX training route may therefore be used to enter the final stages of the necessary qualifications to become a solicitor.

What can legal executives do?

  • Qualified and experience Legal Executives are able to carry out much the same work as a solicitor. Generally Legal Executives work in solicitors firms alongside other lawyers but they can also work in in-house legal departments for companies, organisations and government departments.  

  • They can carry out work in a number of areas of the law and its practice, for example, conveyancing, family matters, probate and litigation.

  • Like other lawyers Legal Executives must continue training through continued professional development.

What qualifications do you need?

ILEX suggest that you should hold at least four good GCSEs including English Language or Literature.  No other qualifications are required. Even you do not hold these GCSEs you can still study with ILEX as they will consider any qualifications at an equivalent level.  They will also look at each individual’s situation.

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For more information on:

  • Stages of Training
  • ILEX Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice
  • ILEX Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice
  • Work Experience
  • Further Development