The total cost of qualifying as a solicitor or barrister is quite considerable, and prospective entrants to either profession are advised to investigate potential sources of funding available at each stage of qualification.

The total cost of qualifying as a solicitor or barrister is quite considerable, and prospective entrants to either profession are advised to investigate potential sources of funding available at each stage of qualification.

Costs

Since 1998 full-time students starting higher education have had to contribute towards their tuition fees. The average student will emerge from a three-year degree course with a debt of at least £20,000. This figure is expected to rise.

Students who have not obtained a qualifying law degree will need to complete a CPE / GDL. They will obviously need to take into account the cost of living as well as course fees which can be as high as £8,500. Grants from local authorities are discretionary and are now rarely available, if at all, to students doing the one-year conversion course (CPE / GDL).

The Legal Practice Course also falls into the category for discretionary awards. For students intending to qualify as a solicitor, the course fees for the Legal Practice Course range from £4,950 - £12,500, depending on location with subsistence costs on top. In order to assist with the payment of fees, some of the Legal Practice Course institutions will accept payment of fees by instalments. Part-time study is available throughout the training scheme.

Finding funding

There are many ways to gain the financial backing necessary to fund your way through the GDL / CPE and LPC. The most common of these is the Professional Studies Loan and most high street banks offer these specialist loans with lower interest rates than normal and delayed repayment arrangements. Other sources of funding include the following:

Charities and grant-making trusts

Your Local Authority Awards Officer will also have information about local charities and any grant-making trusts for which you may qualify. There will be a charities register which can be consulted in order to advise you, and which may be available in the local reference library. Qualifications for these awards vary enormously but they are often so specific that your eligibility will be limited to a very few. Usually they provide for the award of small amounts of money only and should not be relied upon to provide financial support for either tuition or maintenance for a whole year.

Law Society schemes

The Law Society operates two schemes for LPC students - the bursary scheme and the Diversity Access Scheme.

Read about the Diversity Access Scheme

Sponsorship

A number of firms will sponsor students applying for the GDL & LPC or offer provision for interest free loans. In the circumstances, you would normally expect to serve your training contract with the firm. Occasionally commitment to employment with the firm over a longer period is required. This will form the subject of a covenant in your training contract.

Sponsorship information can be found in a variety of publications including the training contract handbook, careers services and firms publications.

Further information

For information on the latest loan, grant and bursary schemes see funding your studies.