Each year a number of mature students commence the LLB to pursue a career as solicitor. Deciding whether to change courses or career to qualify as a solicitor is often a difficult decision and it is important you have as much accurate information as possible available to you before you decide how to proceed.
If you wish to qualify as a solicitor without undertaking the LLB, you can find out more about the alternative route here.
The route to qualification for non-law graduates
Entry to the legal profession in Scotland for non-law graduates is via the graduate entry LLB (the accelerated LLB), usually offered over two years, and leading to an ordinary degree in Scots Law. Some institutions offer a part-time option over three years and you should check each year with individual institutions to see if this is on offer. Unlike the situation in England and Wales, there is no one-year law conversion course for graduates in Scotland. Entry for graduates is via the accelerated LLB.
Following successful completion of the graduate entry LLB, you would continue to qualification via the same route as all other law graduates who have undertaken the three or four-year LLB, ie you would go on to study the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, followed by a two-year traineeship.
Institutions offering the graduate entry LLB include the following universities: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Stirling, Strathclyde. You should contact individual institutions directly for further information about their courses. Links to these institutions' websites can be found at Where to study the LLB.
Entry to the Diploma is decided on the grades achieved during the LLB so it is important you hit the ground running from day one. This will ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of being accepted on to the Diploma at your institution of choice and also to assist you when applying for traineeships, as many recruiters look at your individual marks in the LLB when shortlisting candidates.
If you do not currently have a degree, you will follow the standard route to qualification.
There is no Open University option for a Scottish LLB, and while an Open University law course may form part of the route to qualification in England and Wales, it is extremely important to note it does not form any part of the route to qualification in Scotland.
In Scotland, one distance learning option is to undertake the online LLB, which is available through Robert Gordon University.
There is a further option to qualify as solicitor without undertaking the LLB and this is through a combination of working and taking the Law Society exams. Further details can be accessed by finding out about alternative routes to qualification.
If the LLB is your second degree, there is no subsidy for the cost of the course. Fees vary at each institution and range from around £5,000 to upwards of £8,750 per year for the full-time course.
The Diploma in Professional Legal Practice course fees range from £5,225 to £6,500 (full details can be found in How much does it take to qualify).
In addition, you should consider your living costs throughout the period at university.
The careers service at your chosen university may be able to investigate sources of funding, via career development loans trusts and charities etc. The Law Society is also aware of some trusts to support law students but in the main they are there to support Diploma students and legal research.
In practice, many students use a combination of loans, savings, family support and part-time work to fund themselves through this course. We strongly advise you carefully consider the financial implications of undertaking this course before proceeding.
If you are on the accelerated course, you should be particularly aware of the fact that recruitment in law can happen very early - often up to two years prior to the start of a traineeship (this is typically true of large corporate and commercial firms).
If you are interested in applying for summer placements and internships, please note that many firms and organisations offer structured placements between the penultimate and final year of the LLB, and are often recruiting during the winter leading up to that summer. Therefore recruitment for summer placements can be as early as a few weeks into your first year of the two-year course, and recruitment for traineeships can be as early as the summer between your first and second year of the two-year course.
Please note that many firms and organisations do recruit at a variety of stages throughout the degree and Diploma (and beyond) but it will help you when searching for a traineeship to be aware of all deadlines so you do not miss any possible opportunities. As the accelerated course is just two years, it is particularly important you are aware of these timescales.