Can you Become a Solicitor Without a Degree?

In 2009, Tracy DaCosta became the first legal executive to be made the partner of a law firm. Some took this as a sign that the legal profession is becoming more flexible and less elitist than it once was.

Becoming a legal executive

To become a legal executive, you must become qualified with the Institute of Legal Executives.  This route to becoming a solicitor appeals to many people because:

• The training can be combined with other work
• No formal qualifications are required to begin training
• It is more cost-effective that traditional routes into law
• It’s very flexible and suits those with other commitments, such as family

Some people undertake the ILEX qualifications whilst working in a legal setting but distance learning is also an option. However, in order to become a qualified Legal Executive (Fellow) you have to complete at least five years of legal employment (two of which must be post-qualification). If you’re working in a legal setting whilst you study, this can count towards the necessary five-year period.

Once you’ve become a Fellow of the Institute, you can choose whether to go on to take the two-year Legal Practice Course (LPC). The LPC course would make you a qualified solicitor. However, legal executives can already do much of the work that solicitors do.

Once a legal executive has been working for five years after their qualification, they can also apply to become a judge.

Qualifications to become a legal executive

There are no minimum qualifications for becoming a legal executive but it is recommended that you have at least four GCSEs at grade C or higher. However, even if you don’t have this you may still be able to begin training, depending on your experience and situation. You could also take a City & Guilds from the Institute of Legal Executives to prepare you to study.