Conversion courses do what they say on the tin. They allow people who have studied other subjects at degree level to ‘convert’ to law.
Otherwise called the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PDL), the conversion course helps people who have been to university and got a degree in a different subject to move into a legal career.
How do you qualify?
It doesn’t matter what subject you took for your first degree, but many institutions will expect you to have achieved a 2:1 (like a grade B). If you have done a vocational qualification which is the equivalent to a degree, or did your first degree in another country, you could apply for a Certificate of Academic Standing from the Law Society and then use this as a part of your application.
How long does the conversion course take?
If you do it full-time, the PDL takes one year or you can do it part-time in two-years. Either way, it is compressing down three years worth of studying, so it will be hard work.
What types of things will I study?
The conversion course mixes up lots of law theory with the practical skills you will need to be a lawyer. So as well as getting a grounding in different parts of the law, you will also be taught how to research and present cases.
Where can I do a conversion course?
Many Higher Education Institutions offer the Post Graduate Diploma in Law. For a complete list, take a look at the Central Application Board.
What happens after the conversion course?
After the conversion course, you have to go on to the vocation part of your legal training, this will be different depending on whether you want to become a barrister or solicitor.
A solicitor will have to do a one-year Legal Practice Course, followed by a two-year training contract at a law firm (you will be paid for this and they might want you to stay on afterwards when you’re fully qualified).
A barrister must take a one year Bar Vocational Course in place of the Legal Practice Course, and then they are ‘called to bar’ at one of the four Inns where they do a year’s pupillage shadowing a senior barrister and undertaking some court work. They can then join a set of Chambers as a fully-fledged self-employed barrister.