Legal Terminology

You may find this glossary useful when when researching the law sector and attending assessment centres.

  • GDL – Graduate Diploma in Law. This is a year-long full-time mandatory course for all graduates who didn't study a qualifying LLB degree.
  • LPC – Legal Practice Course. This is a mandatory course for all graduates to take after completion of the GDL. Once you have finished the LPC you are ready to start your training contract.
  • SQE – Solicitors Qualifying Examination. A series of exams taken in two stages which will eventually replace the GDL and LPC.
  • Seat - Another word for "department" in the training-contract world. As you embark on your training contract, you'll rotate through a number of different departments within the law firm that's training you. Each department you work in is known as a "seat".
  • Qualification – Upon completing a two year training contract, all lawyers apply to be admitted to the roll of solicitors to become a qualified solicitor. Admission includes screening, a criminal records check and a character and suitability assessment.
  • IP – Intellectual Property. A branch of law that protects “intellectual” and “intangible” creations or assets such as ideas, inventions, designs, patents, copyright, trade secrets, and trademarks. 
  • VS – Vacation Scheme. A period of formal, paid work experience at a law firm. 
  • TC – Training Contract. A two-year training period at an organisation which is regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. Usually it involves rotating through different departments every 6 months and often you’re given the opportunity to spend 6 months in an overseas office or in the in-house legal team of a client. 
  • SRA - Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, created by the Law Society to regulate solicitors in England and Wales. 
  • ADR – Alternative Disputes Resolution. Refers to methods used to resolve disputes without going to trial. Methods usually involve mediation, arbitration, expert determination and early neutral evaluation. 
  • QC – Queen’s Counsel. A highly respected role in the legal profession who has been appointed by the monarch 
  • Due diligence - The process by which a buyer of or an investor in a company, asset or business investigates the records of the target to support its value and find out whether there are matters on which it requires further information or which it should use as a platform to renegotiate the price. 
  • Disclosure – A stage in the litigation process where each party is required to disclose the documents that are relevant to the issues in dispute, to the other party. 
  • Acquisition - When one company takes over another and clearly establishes itself as a new owner, the purchase is called an Acquisition. From a legal point of view, the target company ceases to exist, the buyer “swallows” the business and the buyers stock continues to be traded.
  • Dispute - A conflict or controversy; a conflict of claims or rights; an assertion of a right, claim, or demand on one side, met by contrary claims or allegations on the other.
  • Litigation - Or dispute resolution as it's also known, involves assistance with disputes and claims which may arise in the course of any commercial transaction or deal. It is the commencement of legal action through the courts.
  • Arbitration - A form of alternative dispute resolution whereby an independent referee can make a legally binding decision without the need of a court. This award can be challenged at court.
  • Arbitrator – An independent referee who can settle a dispute through alternative dispute resolution, without the need of a court.
  • Patent - The exclusive right which is granted over an invention.
  • Contentious - Relates to legal matters that take place between two or more parties, such as a court hearing or a tribunal hearing to resolve a dispute.
  • Non-contentious - Relates to transactions occurring between one or more parties, such as the sale or purchase of a house.
  • M&A – Mergers and Acquisitions. These are transactions that involves combining two assets, usually companies.
  • Secondment – The transfer of an employee for a period of usually 6 months, to another part of the firm, for example to overseas offices or to the in-house legal team of one of the firm’s clients.
  • Trainee solicitor – An individual undergoing professional training at a law firm or an in-house legal team to qualify as a full-fledged solicitor.
  • Solicitor/lawyer – Used interchangeably to describe someone who has qualified to practise law.
  • Associate – A job title used within law firms for qualified lawyers.
  • Partner – Usually a senior lawyer at a law firm who makes up the wider partnership of the firm.
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