Legal education: 25% of lawyers choose non-law subjects for undergraduate study

Legal education: 25% of lawyers choose non-law subjects for undergraduate study

As the fresh year looms for the latest batch of undergraduates to start their chosen course, The Independent looks at whether it has become the norm to study a non-law subject for those wishing to go on to become a solicitor or barrister.

At present there are two graduate routes to entering the legal profession. The traditional route is to study law as an undergraduate degree, before moving on to study either the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for solicitors, or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC, formerly known as the Bar Vocational Course until 2010).

The other route is to study another subject at undergraduate level, before opting to complete a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

The GDL is a one-year conversion course which puts students through the eight mandatory disciplines required to go on to the next level of legal education.

The traditional law undergraduate route remains the most popular, with statistics published in the Law Society annual report in 2011 showing that around 75% of those going on to become solicitors had gone via that route.

However, studying law is no guarantee to a law job, and one major piece of advice from many law candidates is to ensure that you have an offer of a training contract before committing to the next stage of your legal career after your degree.

The Independent interviewed two candidates who have taken different routes in their legal education.

Patrick Osgood chose to study the GDL after completing a first degree in English and American literature, whilst Aathmika Kularatnam chose to study law as an undergraduate at UCL.

“I chose to study law after secondary school because I felt that it would be an interesting and academically challenging subject. I enjoyed debating and examining issues from different perspectives and felt that studying law would help me develop my analytical ability,” Ms Kularatnam, 22, told The Independent.

Mr Osgood decided against a career in law after studying his conversion course, but spoke of three pieces of advice which he was given when deciding on his undergraduate degree.

“I received three excellent pieces of advice. The first was to study what interested me at university. The second, from a lawyer, was that the law degree is dull. The third, from a Legal 100 recruiter, is that most firms and chambers don’t care whether you’ve studied law, but whether you can be a lawyer,” he told The Independent.


Law at university: to degree or not to degree? (The Independent)

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