Legal education in the United Kingdom
Dundee and Strathclyde, both in Scotland, are the only universities in the UK to offer a dual-qualifying degree. Dundee also offers a choice of either English/Northern Irish or Scots law separate LL.B. degrees. Aberdeen offers a "Law with English Law" course which qualifies you in both Scots Law and English Law.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Requirements for becoming a lawyer in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland differ slightly depending on whether the individual plans to become a solicitor or barrister. All prospective lawyers must first however possess a qualifying law degree, or have completed a conversion course. A qualifying law degree in England and Wales must contain modules covering the following subject areas:
- Public law (constitutional/administrative)
- European Union law
- Criminal law
- Law of obligations (contract, restitution, and tort)
- Property law (real property)
- Trusts and equity
Following graduation, the paths towards qualification as a solicitor or barrister diverge. Prospective solicitors must enroll with the Law Society of England and Wales as a student member and take a one-year course called the Legal Practice Course (LPC), usually followed by two years' apprenticeship, known as a training contract. Prospective barristers must first apply to join one of the four Inns of Court and then complete the one-year Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), followed by a year training in a set of barristers' chambers, known as pupillage.
Qualifying law degrees
*Northumbria offers an 'exempting degree' in which the LPC or BVC is combined with the qualifying law degree into a four-year course
When the kingdoms of England and Scotland merged to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, the terms of the 1706 Treaty of Union that led to the union guaranteed that Scotland's legal system would continue, separate from that of England and Wales.
Scots law is founded upon Roman or civil law, although today it has evolved into a pluralistic system, using both civil and common law. As in England and Wales, lawyers in Scotland are divided into two groups: solicitors and advocates. Solicitors are members of the Law Society of Scotland, and are only entitled to practise in the lower courts of Scotland, while advocates are members of the Faculty of Advocates and are permitted to appear in the superior High Court of Justiciary and Court of Session. Membership of either (but only one) body can be attained either by sitting that body's professional exams, or by obtaining exemption through the award of a qualifying law degree and successful completion of the Diploma in Legal Practice.
The Diploma in Legal Practice trains students on the practical elements of being a lawyer in Scotland, and consists of a broad range of compulsory modules.
After completion of the diploma, students wishing to become solicitors undertake a two-year traineeship with a law firm, before being admitted as full members of the Law Society. To become an advocate, students undertake a period of training of twenty-one months with a solicitor, before a further nine month unpaid traineeship with an experienced advocate, known as devilling.
Scottish solicitors and advocates are entitled to practise elsewhere in the European Union, provided that they satisfy the requirements of the relevant EU directives. However, to practise elsewhere in the United Kingdom, further courses and examinations are required.
Schools of law
The following institutions offer qualifying degrees of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.). Those offering the Diploma in Legal Practice are marked with an asterisk (*):
- University of Aberdeen School of Law*
- Abertay University
- Dundee Law School at the University of Dundee*
- Edinburgh Law School at the University of Edinburgh*
- Edinburgh Napier University
- University of Glasgow School of Law*
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- Robert Gordon University*
- University of Stirling
- Strathclyde Law School at the University of Strathclyde*
Alternatives to an (initial) law degree
In England and Wales there are also one year conversion courses known as the Common Professional Examination (CPE) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), for non-law graduates as an alternative to the full-length LL.B. degree course, whilst a number of institutions also offer two-year conversion courses, usually at a lower cost with a more distinguished qualification, such as a master's degree.
Scots law regulations usually require a full LL.B qualification. It is possible to complete an honours degree in any other subject, whether in Scotland or elsewhere, and subsequently undertake a qualifying accelerated two-year LL.B. (which is essentially the first two years of the honours LLB) at several universities including Aberdeen, Caledonian, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Stirling.
- "SRA – Academic Stage". Solicitors Regulation Authority. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- "How to Become a Barrister". Bar Council (UK). Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- "SRA – Conversion Course". Solicitors Regulation Authority. Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- "SRA – Training contract information". Solicitors Regulation Authority. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- Ralph Michael Stein. "The Path of Legal Education from Edward I to Langdell". Pace University Law School.