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updated on 01 November 2019

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Find out which institutions offer the GDL by using our Course search

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.

Change ahead: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination

The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new exam in development that all trainee solicitors will have to pass at the point of qualifying, which is due to be introduced in 2021. For more information, read our Feature article, “The Solicitors Qualifying Examination: everything we know so far”. Also use our search function and search for "SQE" for all the latest news stories and comment.

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