Advice for undergraduates - financial considerations
Studying to be a solicitor is expensive - find out the facts.
- Be prepared! The average cost of the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is £6,305 and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) £9,670 - higher if studied in London. These sums only reflect the course fees, and you will require living expenses over and above this.
- Government-funded student loans are not available specifically for the GDL and LPC and some of the high street banks are reviewing their post graduate packages. For example, NatWest no longer offer a GDL / LPC loan. Barclays and the Co-operative offer career development loans (not available for the GDL) of up to £10,000 but these are limited to 80 per cent of the course fees. The APR on both loans is 9.9 per cent and borrowing £10,000 to pay over five years (after the course if finished) is a monthly repayment of £210.39. BPP Law School with Investec offer a loan of 120 per cent of the course fees with similar rates of interest. Remember these are commercial loans and they must be repaid no matter what salary you are earning.
- Some scholarships and bursaries, such as the Law Society’s diversity access scheme, are available but these are limited and subject to specific qualifying criteria.
- The Law Society / SRA minimum salary for a trainee solicitor is £16,650 (£18,590 for Central London), which is a monthly take home pay of circa £1,127.96, or £1,223.34 respectively.
- Trainee salaries in large regional, national and City firms vary from £21,000 to £41,000. However, most of these firms recruit almost all of their trainees prior to enrolment on the LPC. On qualification, salaries vary hugely from £20,000 - £40,000 in the regions, and £50,000 to £100,000 in the City, with the highest earners being those at US firms.
- Be aware - not all firms will pay for the LPC (and GDL if applicable) if you are offered a training contract. And those that say they do pay course fees may not pay fees retrospectively if you have secured a training contract whilst on the LPC.
- Unfortunately, paralegal jobs for LPC graduates who are looking for training contacts often pay less than the Law Society minimum salary.
- Not all lawyers are rich, very few are. Even once qualified, the debt payments continue and most lawyers are still paying off debt years after qualification.
- Consider part time work or part time study options as well as the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) route to qualification as a solicitor. Although the ILEX route may take longer, it will be a less expensive route to qualification.
- Remember a job in the law is not the same as a training contract. Speak to people currently on the LPC or those who have recently completely the LPC about the difficulties in obtaining a training contract. Go to the JLD student forum events and ensure you are signed up to our regular e-newsletter.