Law Degree Route
The Law Society of Northern Ireland, as the governing body of the solicitors' profession in Northern Ireland, has in exercise of its statutory powers, prescribed the legal education and training necessary to qualify as a solicitor in Northern Ireland.
The Law Degree Route is covered under Regulation
8(1) of the Solicitors Admission and Training Regulations 1988 (as amended). A
copy of these regulations can be downloaded below.
An applicant using this route must, before being accepted as a student of the Society, establish to the Society's satisfaction:
- that he/she possesses an acceptable law degree and;
- that he/she has been offered a place in the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS);
- have obtained a Master (a solicitor with whom the applicant proposes to serve his/her traineeship).
Please note that the applicant's law degree must contain the following eight core subjects:
Those applicants who have not been examined in the Law of Evidence should advise the Society at the time of the relevant application so that arrangements can be made for them to sit the appropriate examination.THE INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL LEGAL STUDIES (IPLS)
- Constitutional Law
- Law of Tort
- Law of Contract
- Criminal Law
- European Law
- Land Law
- Law of Evidence
The organisation in Northern Ireland which offers the vocational training route to become a solicitor is the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), also referred to as "the Institute", which is part of Queen's University Belfast. Under this route you will complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies, also known as the Solicitor Course, at the IPLS in addition to your in-office training.
A list of recognised law degrees can be found via the Information Booklet on the IPLS' Admission page HERE.
All applicants to the Institute must sit an entrance examination in the December prior to the year they wish to take up a place at the Institute. All prospective applicants who wish to sit the entrance examination must apply to sit the exam. Details of the application procedure can be found on the Institute's website.
REGISTRATION WITH THE SOCIETY
The Society will write to all those applicants who
successfully complete the Institute entrance examination in the Spring inviting
them to register with the Society. You will be required to formally register with the
Society before you can commence your studies and training.
As part of the registration process you will lodge your Apprenticeship Contract (Indentures). The Indentures are a two-year fixed term Contract.
The following Society fees apply to trainee solicitors:
- Petition and Indentures Registration Fee: £187.50
- Admission Fee: £50.00
THE TRAINEE SOLICITOR PROCESS
The underlying principle of the professional education of a solicitor is that it involves a combination of practical in-office training and formal academic instruction. The solicitor training runs for two-years from the Date
of Commencement. This is the uniform date at which all trainees will commence
their training. The date is typically the first Monday in September, but is updated each year and
applicants should refer to the registration papers for confirmation.
The two-year training
runs as follows:
- December: Trainee in-office with their Master
- January - December: Trainee completes studies at IPLS (with Easter, Summer and Christmas periods spent in-office)
- January - September: Trainee in-office with their Master
It should be noted
that applicants do not need to wait until they have been offered a place at the
Institute before registering with the Society and are advised, on securing a
Master, to register conditionally.
If they do so they
will be in a position to take up a place even if it is offered late. If they do
not receive an offer the conditional registration will lapse.
The Society would advise that arrangements to enter a traineeship should be made at as early a date as possible and would emphasise that anyone who fails to lodge the Apprenticeship Contract by the due date will not be considered for registration as a student of the Society.
As part of your studies you will also be required to complete the
following Law Society modules:
- Professional Conduct Course
- Solicitors Accounts Course
- Regulatory Obligations
- Client Complaints
We will invite you to attend these courses and any subsequent examinations upon registration.
ELIGIBILITY TO ACT AS A MASTER
It should be noted
that the applicant's proposed Master must also be acceptable to the Society.
The acceptability of Masters is governed by separate regulations. The principal
requirements of these regulations is that the proposed Master must have been
admitted as a solicitor within Northern Ireland for at least 7 years, must have been a principal for at least 3
years and must provide satisfactory opportunities for adequate training of trainee solicitors.
The regulations which underpin these requirements are the Solicitors Admission and Training (Qualification of Masters) Regulations 1988 and (Solicitors Admission and Training (Qualification of Masters) (Amendment) Regulations 1992, which are available HERE.
Both Master and trainee must co-operate with the Society should the Society require an assessment to be made of the quality of training during the traineeship.
CHARACTER AND FITNESS
Please note that
applicants must satisfy the Society's Education Committee as to their suitability
to be accepted as students of the Society and produce for that purpose such
evidence as to character and fitness as the Committee may require.
No applicant will be registered if he/she is an undischarged bankrupt or if he/she has been convicted of a criminal offence of such a nature as to make his/her registration undesirable or if for any other reason he/she fails to satisfy the Committee as to his/her fitness to be a solicitor.
In order to be eligible for admission all trainees must have completed the following:
- Successfully pass the Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies at the IPLS;
- Successfully pass all requisite Law Society Modules;
- Provide satisfactory evidence of the completion of the two-year Indentures, to include sworn documentation from the trainee and their Master;
- Submitted all requisite fees.
The Society's Admissions Officer will write to all trainees near the end of the Indenture period to advise on the next steps.
These notes are
intended to be a guide only. It is the personal responsibility of each
intending student to acquaint himself/herself with the relevant provisions of
the Society's Regulations and requirements.
Please direct any queries with respect to traineeships and registration to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any queries regarding the Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies should be directed to the IPLS.