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Solicitors

Finances

updated on 05 January 2022

If you’re thinking of becoming a barrister, see our specific barrister finances page.

The total cost of qualifying as a solicitor is considerable. Candidates should think about sources of funding at each stage of the process.

Undergraduate degree

Firstly, there are your undergraduate degree tuition fees to consider. Universities can charge fees of up to £9,250 per year; so you should check the cost with individual institutions. However, be aware that the majority of universities have opted to charge the maximum tuition fee of around £9,000 to £9,250 per year.

There are two types of loan available for your undergraduate degree:

  • A student loan for fees (commonly called the ‘tuition fee loan’) covers the full amount of your fees – the full amount available being set at £9,250 for the academic year 2021-22.
  • Student living costs loans vary in amount depending on your city of study and whether you live independently or with family. For example, for the academic year 2021-22, the grant for a student living independently and studying in London is up to £12,382. 

Most students have to use both types loan, but the loans are repayable only after you have graduated and even then you pay only 9% on any earnings over the repayment threshold of £27,288 a year, £2,274 a month or £524 a week. If you earn less than that, you don’t repay the loan. These figures change on 6 April each year, so check the government website.

Some grants are also available from your university or indirectly when you’ve gone through the normal loans application process (the money actually comes from your local education authority). Government maintenance grants were scrapped by the government in September 2016.

Visit the government’s student finance website for more details of how financial support is administered.

In addition, education charity Brightside has a free online budget calculator – www.studentcalculator.org.uk – which is a useful tool for helping you manage your money once you’re at university. 

Postgraduate courses

GDL fees

If you did a non-law degree, you have to study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Fees range up to £12,550 (for a full-time course in London in 2022-23) but can be significantly less outside London. Added to these fees are your own living costs.

LPC fees

Expect to pay up to £17,950 for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for a full-time course in London in 2022-23 – although you can pay considerably less outside London. Again, added to these fees are your own living costs.

SQE fees

You can expect to pay £3,980 for the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE) but this figure does not include the preparation courses that candidates should complete before embarking on the assessments. For example, at The University of Law the SQE1 and 2 preparation courses both cost £5,650 each in London.

Student Loans Company postgraduate funding

Postgraduate loans from the government are only available for master’s courses, not diplomas or professional certificates, meaning that postgraduate loans are not available for the GDL, standalone LPC or SQE courses.

However, many law schools and universities offer LPCs and SQEs that include a master’s qualification, meaning that you can get a postgraduate loan if you choose to study an LLM LPC/LLM legal practice.

Postgraduate loans go up to a maximum of £11,570. It is up to the student to decide how they want to divide the loan between paying course fees and living costs. 

Find out more about funding the SQE in this Oracle.

Future finance loans

The biggest private student loan provider in the UK is Future Finance. Loans range from £2,000 to £25,000, covering both tuition fees and living costs.

These loans are also available to EU and international students, as well as those from the UK.

To secure a Future Finance loan, you must apply six months before you start your postgraduate course. To find out more about the loan and see whether you are eligible, go to the Future Finance website.

Graduate bank loans

Loans for postgraduate study are also available from many high street banks. A graduate loan is a viable way to fund the GDL, but you should exhaust all your other options first.

Loans range from £1,000 to £15,000 and are subject to a suitability assessment. Contact your bank to find out what support it may be able to provide.

Sponsorship

Some law firms – particularly international, City or large regional firms – provide GDL and/or LPC sponsorship upon your acceptance of an offer of a training contract. In some cases, this includes paying back a loan you have already taken out yourself.

Sponsorship is sometimes (although rarely) available from other bodies that take on trainees. For instance, the Government Legal Service offers limited financial help for its future trainees. Use the ‘sponsorship offered’ filter on LawCareers.Net’s training contract search to find firms that offer sponsorship.

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If you are recruited during your degree and the firm offers to sponsor you through your postgraduate course(s), it will probably recommend a particular law school or university. You’re then likely to study several modules tailored to the firm’s work areas.

Scholarships

All universities and law schools offer a limited number of scholarships, awards and bursaries. Some may be for students who show exceptional ability, while others exist to support students who could not otherwise afford the course fees. Learn more about what scholarships are available on your university or law school's website, or contact the scholarships team directly. 

Further support

Some grant-making trusts and charities may offer financial assistance to those seeking to qualify as a solicitor. You can find information about grants, loans and other funds from your local education authority awards officer.

Finally, the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) website funding page can provide all prospective and current students with information regarding financial help. The page also provides information about the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme.