LCAN, the Law Careers Advice Network, primar aims was to promote and enhance understanding in the student population in schools, further and higher education institutions about the opportunities available to those who wish to pursue a career in law.


The Law Careers Advice Network offered students and graduates numerous means of obtaining funding for education, law courses etc. Please note that although the LCAN is now closed many of the means to obtain funding are still viable


Becoming a lawyer - the potential costs

The road to becoming a lawyer is long and in most cases costly. As well as funding their way through undergraduate degrees, aspiring lawyers also have to find ways of funding themselves through the further stages of qualification. Below is a rough breakdown of the sorts of financial costs that may be incurred when studying to become a lawyer.


University degrees

Fees - These can vary depending on personal circumstances. At present the maximum amount that a person can contribute towards their tuition fees is £1,250 per academic year. However, the fee structures in higher education are due to change in 2006. This is because of the enactment of the Higher Education Act 2004, which partially changes the way in which higher education is funded. From September 2006, payment of tuition fees will be deferred until students actually leave higher education, ie when they have finished their degree. When the new rules come into place, a student will be asked to contribute towards fees will be between zero and £3,000 per academic year, again dependent on personal circumstances.

Rent - This will depend very much on where you decide to study. Rents in London and the larger cities, for example, will be higher than elsewhere. Average rent costs can vary from about £2,400 - £4,800 per academic year.

Food - Again, this is a variable cost but could amount to between £1,050 - £1,600 per year.

Living costs - This will depend enormously on personal preference and circumstance. Figures can fluctuate from £1,000 - £3,000 per year. Various factors can make up living costs such as:

  • Travel - Take into account that there may be some traveling to and from campus.
  • Socialising - Your budget as well as your studies may dictate how much you spend on socialising.
  • Books - Something that can be stated with certainty is that each law student will be required to spend money on books. The average student spends between £100 - £150 per year on books, with one in three law students spending over £200 a year on books. University libraries will of course be a great help. Law students are generally the heaviest users of libraries but do not be too dependent on obtaining the books you need from the library. They may be on reference only loan or short loans where you can only take the books away for a morning or afternoon at a time.
  • There will be many more costs such as clothes, stationery and photocopying.

Converting to law (CPE or GDL)

If your first degree is not a qualifying law degree, then you will have to complete a conversion course in order to go on to the further stages of legal training. You will need to undertake what is known as the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). This can be taken over one year full time or two years part time. The course is an intensive exploration of the core modules that are studied on qualifying law degrees.

The costs for your undergraduate degree will be roughly the same as outlined above. With regard to costs for the actual conversion course, again the rent, food and living costs will be similar to those incurred at university. However, the fees charged for conversion courses are different from those charged per year for undergraduate degrees. Fees for the CPE/GDL can vary between £1,125 - £5,400 for the year depending on the type of course your choose and where you decide to study.


Legal Practice Course

Those wishing to become solicitors must undertake a vocational stage of training called the Legal Practice Course (LPC) after obtaining a qualifying law degree. This is often taken on a full time basis over a period of one year, however, there are an increasing number of opportunities to take the Legal Practice Course part time or through distance learning. This flexibility enables students to take paid work whilst they are undertaking the course.

When considering taking the Legal Practice Course, you must appreciate the financial implications. Living costs are similar to those at university, however, fee costs are much more expensive. Fees for the LPC range from £5,200 - £8,500 depending on the type of course you choose and where you decide to study.


The Trainee Solicitors' Group estimates that the overall cost of a degree could be somewhere between £18,000 - £24,000. Add to this £11,205 - £20,445 for the Common Professional Examination and/or the Legal Practice Course, and students could be carrying with them a total debt at the beginning of a training contract of £29,205 - £44,455. Careful thought and extensive research is therefore required before you embark on your legal path.

There is light at the end of this financial tunnel, however. After the Legal Practice Course, you will need to undertake a period of practice based training, called a training contract, which will last two years if taken full time or four years if taken part time. This is the stage at which they pay you! What trainees earn when starting their training contract will vary widely depending on the firm and which part of the country they are based in. The Law Society requires a minimum wage of £15,900 in Central London and £14,200 for trainees in other parts of England and Wales. However, in reality some salaries can exceed the minimum, with the average trainee salary in 2002/2003 being £19,748.

Search for training contracts on Graduate Prospects' online Law Community,


Bar Vocational Course

Undertaking the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) is essential for students wishing to become barristers. However, it must be noted that this is a very costly exercise and not a decision that should be entered into lightly. By the time you come to consider taking the BVC, you could already be in a substantial amount of debt, and taking the BVC could in some cases double that debt. Take heed of the statistics. In 2003, 1121 people passed the BVC, whereas in the same year only 711 pupillages were available. However, do not let statistics make the decision for you. If you believe you have the commitment, intelligence and drive to succeed at the bar, then go for it. Aside from this, even if you are not successful in securing a pupillage after the BVC, the money spent on taking the course is not wasted. The BVC will equip you with many sought after employability skills that will be attractive to all sorts of employers.

Fees for the BVC depend on which region of the country you attend bar school. They vary from £6,750 - £11,495 for the year. Add to this the rent and living costs, as outlined above, which again vary depending on the region where you study.


Training as a legal executive

There is an alternative route to a career in law and that is through becoming a legal executive. It takes five or six years on average to become a fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives. However, during this time you will be working in a solicitor’s office or similar legal environment, thus allowing individuals to earn and learn at the same time. ILEX (The Institute of Legal Executives) estimates that the total cost of training to become a legal executive is £2,817.


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