I was lucky enough to be invited back to my old college to talk to students who are considering studying law at university. It was lovely to get to chat to them, so I thought I’d put my talk into a blog post.
Firstly, if you are considering a career in law, make sure that the law degree that you undertake is a qualifying law degree- an LLB. Most law degrees are, but it is worth double checking, otherwise you may have to complete the GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) after your degree if you do want to have a legal career. There are several modules that all qualifying law degrees must teach, however they may be assessed differently across different universities so this may be worth checking if you prefer certain method of assessment. The modules that qualifying law degrees must teach are:
- Public law (constitutional and administrative)
- European Union law
- Criminal law
- Contract law
- Tort law
- Equity and trusts
- Land law
As already mentioned, how law degrees are assessed differs between different universities, although you will likely have a mix of coursework, exams and practical or spoken assessments. Please come to university prepared to have to talk- either through debates, assessed seminars, moots or networking events, you’ll have to talk to people and in front of people. Even if you’re not the most confident person at the minute, a willingness to develop confidence and skills in talking to people is extremely important and if you can perfect this skill at university then you’ll be in an excellent position for your future career. Also if you have the chance whilst you’re doing your A levels to get involved in mock trials and other law events aimed at college students, it’ll put you in an excellent position and give you a bit of a head start once you reach university.
Obviously, if you undertake a law degree, you do not have to go into a law career. A law degree is recognised as being one of the ‘harder’ degrees and as such employers in any sector will look on it highly- there is no pressure to pursue a legal career once completing your degree! It is also worth noting at this point that if you decide not to do an undergraduate degree in law, but choose a different degree, it is not too late to decide that you would like to pursue a legal career, you can still undertake the GDL (law conversion course) after your non-law undergraduate degree and this means that you can undertake the BPTC, LPC or Cilex qualification route.
The qualification route for solicitors is now changing. For students who are looking to graduate from university in 2020 or later, you will be looking at taking the new solicitors qualification route. This consists of an LLB (or non-law undergraduate degree + GDL), the SQE 1 exam, qualifying work experience for a period of two years, and then the SQE 2 exam.
- SQE 1 exam: tests knowledge of foundation subjects (those that make a qualifying law degree)
- SQE 2 exam: practical legal skills assessments; client interviewing, advocacy, case analysis, legal research and legal drafting.
The qualification route for a barrister is staying the same at present, however in 2020 the Bar Standards Board is looking at introducing centralised assessments. To become a barrister, you will have to undertake an LLB (or non-law degree + GDL), BPTC, 12 qualifying sessions at one of the inns of court, and pupillage.
Other legal careers include becoming a paralegal, or a chartered legal executive.
Since the audience for this post is those of you considering a law degree, I will also suggest some things that you can do between now and starting university which will put you in a good position when you start.
- Volunteering at Citizens Advice Bureau- this is extremely useful as it gives you an introduction to different legal issues. In my experience of volunteering, I tackled problems of land law, immigration law and family law. This gave me a great overview of different areas and helped me to think about what areas of law I enjoyed and what areas of law I wouldn’t like to practice in. On this note- if there is a particular area of law that you are interested in studying, please make sure that the university you’re applying to offer it as there is nothing more disappointing than not being able to study an area that you’re interested in!
- Reading up on different things going on in the legal sector- this doesn’t have to be by picking up a textbook, but read the news, read some legal blogs, such as legal cheek, the lawyer portal, law careers.net etc.
- Attend university open days and taster sessions- this is the best way to know if a particular university suits you, you can chat to current students, you can see what a law degree looks like and assess whether it’s for you.
- Attend different events aimed at college students- there are networking and information events aimed at college students to get you thinking about a legal career, look out for these, and I’m sure that local universities would be more than happy to welcome you to some of the events that they run too!
I think that’s it in terms of advice that I have for people considering studying law. Any questions that you have, feel free to contact me!