Training as a Solicitor

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One of our trainee solicitors Amara McCalla shares the steps she taken to become a confident trainee and all the significant opportunities she has been able to gain on her career path.

I am a Trainee Solicitor within the Family Law department. I began my training contract with WSP in April 2021.

I am currently in my ‘second seat’ within the family law team currently sitting in Private Law Children and Domestic Abuse team.

What are the routes to becoming a solicitor?

I took the traditional route to do this and began my journey to becoming a solicitor by completing my GCSE’s and A Levels, once I had completed my A levels, I then went on to study LLB Law at University, I spent 3 years at university and graduated in 2021.

In 2021, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) introduced a new route to becoming a qualified solicitor known as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

The new SQE route is for people who have a degree level qualification (it doesn’t have to be a law degree), who then complete SQE1 and SQE2 exams, complete two years of qualifying work experience and satisfy the SRA’s character and suitability requirements on assessment. Often, students will complete the SQE2 exam while also completing the work experience, so this can often be a quicker route.

Can I become a solicitor without a law degree?

If you have a non-law related degree, you can also complete a law conversion course to prepare you for a career as a solicitor: a Postgraduate Graduate Diploma in Law or MA Law (Conversion) course. Both these courses can be typically taken full-time for one year or part-time over two years.

You can also still continue with the Legal Practice Course (LPC) route to qualify as a solicitor if you started one of the following by 31 August 2021:

  • a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) / the Common Professional Examination
  • a MA Law
  • the Legal Practice Course (LPC)
  • a period of recognised training (also known as a training contract)
  • For a qualifying law degree, such as the LLB, you must have started by 21 September 2021.

There is also now an increase in companies/firms now offering Solicitor Apprenticeships. A solicitor apprenticeship is generally a six-year programme that is aimed at post A-Level students. This study period is reduced if you progress from another legal apprenticeship.

How long does it take to become a qualified solicitor?

In order to become a solicitor professionally, you’ll generally have to study for at least four-five years full time. That timeline can be reduced or compacted quite a bit by taking the newly introduced SQE route.

My personal experience with becoming a solicitor I have taken the traditional route by doing my A levels in 2016 until 2018. I then went a studied Law at Middlesex University from 2018-2021. I am currently undertaking the LPC and The University of Law part time whilst completing my training contract. I began my LPC in September 2021 and I will complete this by June 2023.

Because I am currently completing my training contract whilst studying my LPC, it will have taken me around 6 years to become a qualified Solicitor.

What’s it like to work as a trainee solicitor at WSP Solicitors?

I have been at WSP since May 2021 and I have been able to progress within the family law team from a legal assistant to a paralegal and then to a Trainee Solicitor.

The support and guidance from those within the Family Law team at WSP has been amazing. I could not have wished for a more supportive team. I am happy that I chose WSP to do my training contract because I have been given great support to enable me to progress to where I am. I am always asked how things are going and I feel that I have been given an extensive training programme which will enable to become a confident solicitor.

What opportunities has WSP Solicitors been able to offer you?

I have been able to attend amazing opportunities such as attending networking events and attending external events which have been able to assist me in practice and with my casework.

I have also been supported by my Training Principal, Camella Cephas, and the Firms other Supervising Solicitors throughout my training contract.  Camella Cephas, Judi Bonham and Louise Kelly have supervised my family case load.  Their experiences have provided valuable insights into different areas of family law and have been a great source of guidance and support when I have needed a point in the right direction.

I have been able to gain a lot of knowledge from the experienced senior solicitors within the team as well as the paralegals and support staff. There is a strong team ethos at the firm, and the senior solicitors all take an involved role in my training. I have weekly catch-ups with one of our solicitors to discuss my progress, whilst I also have monthly meetings with the Trainee Principle who provides me with more formal guidance and feedback.

The firm also organises trainee meetings where all trainees within the firm will meet up with the Trainee Principle and Managing Director. This enables all trainees to meet up and speak about how things are going within different areas of law. it is great being surrounded by those who understand what you are going through

I have also had the opportunity to be involved in the Nelson Trust drop – in clinic, which is designed to offer accessible legal advice and assistance to women who access the Nelson Trust. This opportunity has provided me with supporting a local community and providing legal support to those who may not be able to access it easily.


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