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Non-Law Degree Route

Regulation 8(2)


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 Non-Law Degree Route is covered under Regulation 8(2) 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 a degree, acceptable to the Society’s Education Committee, in another discipline;
  • 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 apprenticeship).

In addition, the applicant must satisfy to the Society that they have attained a satisfactory level of knowledge in the following subjects:

  1. Constitutional Law
  2. Law of Tort
  3. Law of Contract
  4. Criminal Law
  5. Equity
  6. European Law
  7. Land Law
  8. Law of Evidence

Students who commenced their degree course prior to September 1996 should have Company Law as a core subject. Company Law has now been replaced by European Law (see above).

For applicants using the above route the Masters of Legal Science awarded by Queen's University, Belfast will be accepted as sufficient evidence of the satisfactory level of knowledge of the relevant subjects. All enquiries regarding this course should be directed to the School of Law, Queen's University, Belfast.


The organisation in Northern Ireland which offers the vocational training route to become a solicitor is the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), part of Queen's University in 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.

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 website of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies.


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 fees apply to trainee solicitors under this route:

  • Petition and Indenture Registration Fee: £187.50
  • Admission Fee: £50.00 


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.

  • September - 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
  • Client Complaints
  • Regulatory Obligations

We will invite you to attend these courses and any subsequent examinations upon registration.


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 for at least 7 years and must have been a principal for at least 3 years and must provide satisfactory opportunities for adequate training of apprentices.

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.


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 to apply 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:

Any queries regarding the Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Legal Studies should be directed directly to the IPLS.


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