updated on 03 January 2024
If you’re thinking of becoming a barrister, see our specific barrister finances page.
The total cost of qualifying as a solicitor can be pricey. Therefore, candidates should think about sources of funding at each stage of the process.
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 most 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:
Most students have to use both types of loan and the loans are repayable after you’ve graduated. In terms of repayments, for those who started their course on or after 1 August 2023, you’ll pay 9% on any earnings over the repayment threshold of £25,000 a year, £2,083 a month or £480 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.
Previously, if you’d completed a non-law degree, you would’ve had to study the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL). However, this has now changed with the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and the PGDL is no longer a requirement to qualify as a solicitor. That said, given the cost of taking the SQE assessments, it’s recommended that anyone attempting the SQE from a non-law background completes a PGDL first. Plus, most law firms are requiring any future trainees who studied a non-law degree to also complete a PGDL before starting any SQE preparation. Fees range up to £14,300 (for a full-time course in London in 2024/25) but can be significantly less outside London. Added to these fees are your own living costs.
Expect to pay up to £19,950 for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for a full-time course in London in 2024/25 – although you can pay considerably less outside London (around £15,800). Again, added to these fees are your own living costs.
It’s worth noting that education providers will eventually stop offering the LPC following the introduction of the SQE.
You can expect to pay £4,564 for the SQE but this figure doesn’t include the preparation courses that candidates should complete before embarking on the assessments. For example, The University of Law offers a range of SQE preparation courses, including ones specifically for non-law graduates, that range in price. For example, the university’s SQE1 and 2 preparation courses for law graduates cost £6,200 and £5,950 respectively for 2024/25 in London.
Find out more about the cost and content of SQE preparation courses in LawCareers.Net’s guide and via the courses search. Compare different courses using this feature, a guide to SQE preparation courses.
Student Loans Company postgraduate funding
Postgraduate loans from the government are available only for master’s courses, not diplomas or professional certificates, meaning that postgraduate loans aren’t 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 you can get a postgraduate loan if you choose to study an LLM LPC/LLM legal practice (SQE1&2).
Postgraduate loans go up to a maximum of £12,167 if your course starts on or after 1 August 2023. It’s 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.
Graduate bank loans
Loans for postgraduate study are also available from many high-street banks.
Loans range in value and are subject to a suitability assessment. Contact your bank to find out what support it may be able to provide.
Some law firms – particularly international, City or large regional firms – provide GDL and/or LPC/SQE sponsorship upon your acceptance of an offer of a training contract. In some cases, this includes paying back a loan you’ve already taken out.
Sponsorship is sometimes (although rarely) available from other bodies that take on trainees. For instance, the Government Legal Service offers some financial help for its future trainees – details of its funding arrangements for the 2024 legal trainee scheme recruitment campaign will be published in spring 2024.
Use the ‘sponsorship offered’ filter on LawCareers.Net’s training contract search to find firms that offer sponsorship.
If you’re recruited during your degree and the firm offers to sponsor you through your postgraduate course(s), it’s likely that you’ll be required to complete these courses at a particular law school or university. You’re then likely to study several modules tailored to the firm’s work areas.
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 couldn’t 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.
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, visit the Law Society’s funding page for more information on internships, scholarships and sponsors. Plus, the Junior Solicitors Network provides details about the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme.