The College of Law, which runs final-year courses for solicitors for about 4,000 students a year, warned that the difficulty in obtaining grants or sponsorship could prevent people from low-income families going into law.
Fees for the one-year final course are pounds 3,285 in London and pounds 3,040 in Guildford, York and Chester. They are to go up to pounds 4,750 and pounds 4,500 in September when a new legal practice course is introduced.
The study of student finances was prompted by figures showing local education authority contributions to tuition fees at the college fell from 64 per cent of the total cost in 1989 to 24 per cent in the present financial year.
Richard Holbrook, chairman of the college's board of management, said: 'The findings raise serious questions about how far the profession can be open to those from low-income families.'