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If you studied a non-law degree but wish to become a lawyer, you must take a conversion course known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Some institutions may refer to it as the Common Professional Exam, but this is the old name for it and the terms are interchangeable.

The GDL is a one-year, full-time course designed to provide non-law graduates with a diploma equivalent to a law degree. It forms the common basis for non-law graduate entry to both the solicitors' and barristers' professions. Indeed, without a law degree or the GDL you cannot become a solicitor (unless you take the non-graduate, CILEx route). The course can also be taken over two years either part time or by distance learning. However, whichever way you get on the course, the GDL is an intensive, demanding programme.