Entry and training for solicitors in the Republic of Ireland
Training to be a solicitor in the Republic of Ireland takes almost three years from start to finish.
The Law Society of Ireland, Blackhall Place, Dublin is responsible for the education and training of solicitors. Blackhall Place runs the Professional Practice Course, parts I and II, which forms the solicitor’s essential training. Completion of the Professional Practice Courses plus a traineeship with an approved solicitor leads to qualification as a solicitor.
The steps to qualification are:
This examination relates only to non-degree holders; all graduates, both law and non-law, from an Irish or British university are automatically exempt.
First Irish Examination
The First Irish Examination (a written and oral exam in the Irish language) can be taken at any time before, during and after a degree. It is advisable to get it out of the way as soon as possible.
Final Examination: First Part (FE-1)
All graduates (law and non-law) seeking entry to Blackhall Place must pass the FE-1 exams.
Non-law graduates need to undertake a preparation course before they can attempt these examinations. A one-year full-time postgraduate Diploma in Legal Studies course run by the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) for non-law graduates provides a foundation in all of the eight FE-1 examination subjects. DIT also run the course part time over two years, and this is open to non graduates. The University of Limerick and NUI Galway have a graduate-entry two-year course which leads to a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Many other private institutions run FE-1 preparatory courses.
All students must secure a training contract with an approved solicitor before they start the Professional Practice Course. This lasts two years. Students begin their full training after completing the Professional Practice Course I. The number of training contracts available is increasing, particularly from smaller firms. In 2005, 652 training contracts were available: in 2006, this rose to 667.
Professional Practice Course I
The Professional Practice Course I usually starts between August-November, running through to April-June each year. Professional practice courses are now available in both Dublin and Cork. This course leads to the Final Examination, Second Part (FE-2).
Professional Practice Course II
The second part of the Professional Practice Course runs for twelve weeks, and takes place in the middle of students’ training period. This course leads to the Final Examination, Third Part (FE-3). Successful students are then admitted to the Roll of Solicitors, provided they have passed the Second Irish Examination and completed their training contract.