By DebbieH 22 Apr 2017 7 min read

Understanding legal terms

There is no easy route to becoming a lawyer, but the path to entering the legal profession can be made easier by understanding some of the terms used by educators and recruiters. Translating legal jargon can be a necessity on occasion.

Solicitors use numerous terms on a daily basis to explain various activities. Lecturers and professors also use terms that may seem alien to the layperson, while barristers and judges might as well be speaking a different language at times.

The important point to note here is that most legal terms are learned either in university or on the job – it is not necessary to know what is meant by equitable estoppel, indenture or subrogation, for example, before studying law at undergraduate level. Likewise, most graduates will not need to be familiar with Latin phrases such as ‘certum est quod certum reddi potest’ (treating something as certain if it is capable of being made certain) or French terms such as ‘cestui que trust’ (a beneficiary under a trust) unless absolutely necessary.

We have therefore put together a list of the most important legal terms you might come across when deciding which career path to choose and which qualifications to take.

Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC): the vocational stage of training for barristers.

Bar Standards Board (BSB): the professional body that regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and Wales.

Call to the Bar: a formal ceremony in which the title of barrister is officially conferred on those who have completed the academic and vocational stages of training.

Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)a conversion course for non-law graduates that usually lasts one year and teaches core legal modules such as Obligations, Tort and Equity.

Inns of Court: four approved Bar societies.

Junior Lawyers Division (JLD): a body representing law students, trainee solicitors and fledgling lawyers.

Law Society: the professional body that represents lawyers in England and Wales.

Legal Practice Course (LPC): a one or two-year vocational course that must be completed by those who wish to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales.

Legal Professional Qualification (LPQ): a foundation certificate in paralegal practice.

Professional Skills Course (PSC): a period of study undertaken by trainee solicitors.

Pupillage: a one-year period of study for trainee barristers.

Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS): a route for enabling international lawyers to qualify as solicitors in England and Wales.

Route to Qualification (RTQ): a four-stage process for becoming a qualified paralegal.

Seats: the different areas of legal practice in which trainee solicitors must spent several months learning in order to complete their training contract.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA): the professional body that regulates solicitors in England and Wales.

Training Contract: the required two-year period of placement work and vocational study in a legal practice or approved organisation for qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales.

Work Based Learning (WBL): a two-year pilot established by the SRA with the aim of providing an alternative to the vocational stage of training to become a solicitor.