May 13, 2016

Law Degree- Is it what you think it is?

This post was written by: Susan Clements

It’s no surprise that students are shying away from going to university.  They are fully aware that they will be in debt, sometimes to the tune of six-figures for  a large part of their lives afterwards. Having a law degree on your CV may sound prestigious and professional, but what do these law students have to go through to get their degree? And are they guaranteed a job after university? Students have heard of aspiring  lawyers’ being jobless and in debt which has stopped students from applying. Even after completion of the degree, there is still a requirement to attend a higher education college in order to undertake a full year of further, vocational training to become either a solicitor or a barrister.

Students that study Law at A-Level may find the topic interesting but may sometimes not quite appreciate the commitment and change from A-Levels to a University degree. First year university students may often think that they are going to be partying most of the time and the independency of living without parents sounds very tempting but that is a far cry from the reality of how much work is actually required.  Furthermore, the top law firms in the UK do look at which university the student has graduated from. Below is a list of ‘The Top 10 Universities 2017’ in the country to study law along with what A-Level grades you need to be accepted:

10. University of Nottingham- A*AA + LNA

9. University of Bristol- AAA/A*B + LNAT

8. University of Edinburgh- AAA/AAB

7. Durham University- A*AA + LNAT

6. University of Glasgow- AAA/BBB

5. King’s College London- A*AA

4. London Scholl of Economics and Political Science- A*AA

3. University College London-A*AA + LNAT

2. University of Oxford- AAA

1. University of Cambridge- A*AA


How does a Law Degree work?

Students across the country are currently trying their hardest to get the best grades at A-Level.  Their next steps will be decide which law degree to study.  The standard law degree takes three years to complete. Within those three years, you’ll have to do one year of core subjects which are mandatory, then your last two years of the different types of law you choose to study from a number of electives. Want to go abroad? Well you can. You can study foreign law which will take place in your last year at university in the country of your choice, but then you will have to come back for the fourth year and finish your studies in the UK.

After a law degree, to become a solicitor, students will have to undertake the Legal Practice Course and land a training contract (which in itself is no mean feat).  Student’s then face the problem of finding a training contract – in a time where law firms have been reducing the number of training contracts (or pupillages in barrister’s chambers) with some law firms even cancelling their next trainee intake altogether.  A training contract lasts for two years and is effectively “on-the-job” training at firms authorised to undertake such training.  The trainees will have to rotate within the firm and learn about the differing areas of law before they qualify as a fully fledged solicitor.

Students’ opinions:

Law students have been using an anonymous messaging service called ‘Whisper’ to discuss what it is like to be a law student. Here are some of the quotes:

‘Giving to law school is the worse decision I have ever made. I’m miserable, have soul crushing debt and no job aspects.’

‘I thought law school would get me a good job, not put me so deep in debt, I couldn’t afford to eat.’

‘People think I’m selfish for not wanting children, but considering the loans I’ll need to take to get through law school and how bleak the future looks, it makes sense not to have kids.’

Useful tips before starting your law degree:

It is important for students to prepare themselves before starting their law degree, you need to be aware of the amount of commitment and time you will be dedicating to the degree. Here is what to expect when studying and some useful tips:

  • There is a lot of reading
  • Commit to lectures + 26 hours of studying
  • Need to be well organised, work smart and work hard- the more organised you are, the easier it will be to study.
  • Everyone will try to pawn for legal advice from you
  • Intense: you will end up competing with your law friends and other students for the best grade & for the training contracts available!
  • Books will cost you – try and save as much money as you can
  • Students often aren’t fully prepared for the big difference between A-Levels and University – ask yourself are you fully committed to the degree and if not do something that you have and will have the passion and commitment for.

Even though it may seem tough, don’t be put off. Having a law degree and becoming a lawyer can be rewarding and satisfying. You also have job security once qualified. Determination and passion is also key for success. Like any other degree if you work hard, you’ll get what you want in life. Just make sure you prepare yourself.