All degrees – and none – can lead to success as a solicitor

Up to 25% of trainee solicitors are non-law graduates.

It may surprise many to know that a successful career as a solicitor can be approached from several different angles, and doesn’t necessarily require a law degree.

“The Irish solicitors’ profession takes pride in being open, transparent and accessible to a far key broader range of trainees than one might imagine or expect,” says Law Society of Ireland Director General, Ken Murphy.

No law degree? No problem

“One of the lesser-known aspects of a career as a solicitor is the sheer openness of access to solicitor training,” said Law Society of Ireland Director General Ken Murphy. “That is the distinct advantage of our entrance exam system; it is entirely meritocratic.”

“It doesn’t matter what degree you have, or indeed if you don’t have a degree. Sitting our entrance examinations (FE1s) is the standard method of entrance. This opens the solicitors’ profession to a very wide range of people from differing social, geographic, education and work backgrounds.”

“The Irish solicitors’ profession is unusual in the world this way. Most jurisdictions across the EU and indeed globally require a degree and in many cases a Master’s degree as well.”

“Each year, up to 25% of trainee solicitors on our Professional Practice Course (PPC) are non-law graduates.” 

Pathways to the law

The Law Society of Ireland has developed a number of programmes and projects to connect with teenagers and young people who traditionally may not have viewed the law as a career option.

“For example, Street Law, Solicitors of the Future, and the Street Law Prison programme are some of the ways the Society reaches out to a wide variety of young people to show them what a career in law is actually about.” 

“The value of developing connections with non-traditional routes to entry to the legal profession is self-evident. The result is an increasingly diverse Irish solicitors’ profession, which is rightfully far more reflective of modern Irish society than perhaps it has been in the past.” 

Second-chance careers

It is not just school-leavers that find themselves drawn to the prospect of training to be a solicitor, Ken Murphy adds.

“This time of year can often prompt thoughts of major career change among people who already have significant professional experience. In fact, each year 10 to 15% of our PPC places are filled by mature trainee solicitors from various working backgrounds.”

“Ex-Army personnel, former teachers, members of An Garda Síochána and medical care professionals, particularly nurses, are among those who come through the doors of our Law School looking for a fulfilling and varied ‘second-act’ in their careers.” 

The modern Irish solicitor

“The Irish solicitors’ profession in 2018 is very different to what it was even 20 years ago. The modern Irish solicitor wears many hats: confidant, advisor, advocate, business owner, project manager, strategist, and more. They need to be tech savvy but comfortable with archaic systems. Progressive but traditional. Thoughtful on top of everything.”

“Law, the justice system, and society benefits hugely when officers of the court, such as solicitors, bring different skillsets, perspectives, experiences and backgrounds to their legal careers.”

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