Which way to a career in law?
While it may seem like common sense to assume that opting for an undergraduate law programme directly after school is the best start en route to becoming a lawyer, there are other ways that hold just as much credibility with employers. If you know that eventually becoming a lawyer is your goal but you are also interested in other subjects, there is no reason to give up on those interests at undergraduate level. In fact, many of the UK’s top law firms state that what they look for in a candidate is the diversity of their abilities, a worldly perspective, and the enthusiasm they have for the field. So, no matter what undergraduate degree programme you may choose to follow, your ultimate goal of becoming a lawyer is still achievable as long you are passionate about what you do.
Of course, there is a degree of academic legal training that simply can’t be ignored before any law firm will even look at your CV. If you have an undergraduate degree in law, your next step is the legal practice component of academic legal training. If you have a non-law undergraduate degree, then a graduate diploma in law (GDL) will be your next step. The GDL is a law conversion course that provides the grounding required to take your legal practice qualification.
In the eyes of employers, there is no real preference between those graduates who apply to law firms having come from either of these two routes. For some firms there might even be a slight preference for those graduates whose undergraduate degree was in a subject other than law. Having a science background is very useful for those wishing to specialise in intellectual property law, for example. This is where the aspect of diverse skills and knowledge comes into play. But, don’t fear if an undergraduate degree in law is what you’ve been waiting to get your teeth into the whole of your final year at school. What is as vital to law firms when considering students from any route into the legal profession is, that’s right, grades. Whichever route you take, and whichever undergraduate programme you study, it’s the grades you achieve that will initially make you a candidate for top law jobs. The other aspects of your job candidacy will be secondary.
What this all means is that if an undergraduate degree in law is not the outright degree programme you are enthusiastic about, it’s worth considering and doing the subjects you really are passionate about. The likelihood of achieving great grades in a subject that genuinely interests you is significantly higher. Great grades, diverse interests, and passion for the field – this is the magic formula.
Now, there are real-world practical aspects of each route into a legal career to consider. Doing an online law degree is by far the cheapest and least complicated way. With GDL qualifications costing anything up to ten thousand pounds, it constitutes a significant extra investment to make even before you take your legal practice qualification. If you are careful about things like student debt, then moving directly to an undergraduate legal qualification is definitely your best bet. This path allows direct application to the legal practice component of your academic legal training, without the need for an expensive law conversion course.
Check out the i-LLB (Hons) Law Degree at The University of Law; an online law degree, part-time, to match your legal education with the flexibility to get that real world experience employers value so highly, and at the right price.