Studying Law as a Mature Student

Posted by Frank on May 24, 2016 under Studying & Practicing Law, UK Law | Be the First to Comment

There are several reasons that somebody may want to study law as a mature student. You may be pursuing a change of career by retraining for the legal sector, you may have been asked to complete your degree for professional development or to qualify for a promotion, or you might just be doing it for the love of learning. Whatever the case, there are a few things you may wish to know before you begin your studies.

Types of Study

The type of study you complete will largely depend on your previous educational background. If you have completed a degree in a different subject the past, then you will most likely only be required to complete a law conversion course – much like a recent graduate who wants to pursue a career in law but studied a different subject.

If you do not already have a degree, then you will instead have to take a full degree. This takes three years if studying full-time, compared to a law conversion course which takes only one year of full-time study. If you are undertaking study at your employer’s request, they may also request you study the full degree even if you already hold a degree in another subject. Of course, if you are studying out of personal choice then you may choose to take the full degree out of simple preference.

Qualifying

Qualifying for legal study varies from institution to institution. To be able to undertake a law conversion course, you will certainly need to already hold an undergraduate degree. Generally, you will be required to have achieved a grade of at least 2:2 on your first degree to be accepted for a conversion course.

To take a full law degree, if you are educated to at least A-level or equivalent then, depending on grades, you should usually qualify for degree-level study. If you do not have A-levels or equivalent qualifications, this does not mean you cannot go to university but you may well have to complete some other course first, such as an Access to Higher Education course. Relevant work experience may also be considered as an alternative to these qualifications. Speak to the admissions department of the universities you are interested in attending.

Funding

If you have not undertaken a university-level qualification before, then you should qualify for student finance when taking a law degree just as younger students do. If you have started but not completed a degree in the past, you may still qualify for funding but this could just be partial.

Usually, if you do not qualify for student finance you will have to fund your studies yourself. If you are being asked to undertake these studies for professional reasons, however, you should speak to your employer about whether they can assist with the costs.

Alternative Careers With a Law Degree

Posted by Frank on February 24, 2015 under Studying & Practicing Law | Be the First to Comment

A career in the law can be rewarding both emotionally and financially. However, it can also be demanding and hard work, meaning often only those with the greatest love for the subject decide to pursue a career.

Unfortunately, this means that some people can be unnecessarily put off of studying law because they perceive the subject to be essentially vocational. Even if they do love the subject, they may be reluctant to spend years of their life and amass a lot of student debt when they may ultimately decide they are not cut out for a law career. While it is important to think about any degree choice carefully, a law degree can open up work in many areas besides the legal sector. It is not necessary to see it as a vocational qualification leading to one defined career path, as it can also open up opportunities in:

Management

Obtaining a law degree is a demanding process, and involves many transferrable skills. Law graduates are often well-equipped for careers in management, particularly through joining graduate management training schemes. More even than most graduates, they are used to demanding workloads and challenging tasks. They often have more specific skills too, such as knowledge of contract law, which can also work in their favour when pursuing a management career.

Finance

Finance is a regulation-heavy area, and like management it is also a field that requires many of the transferrable skills that a law degree will teach. Many financial companies, from investment banks to insurance firms, are keen to recruit legal graduates who have a good appreciation of the regulatory challenges that face the industry.

Teaching

If you have the necessary skills and knowledge for a legal career but have decided you don’t want to follow this avenue for yourself, you could instead use your abilities to help others enter the sector. Law is taught at various levels in the UK school system from GCSE upwards, so if teaching is a career that appeals to you then this can be an excellent and rewarding way to put your knowledge to good use. For the vast majority of teaching posts, however, you will need a further teaching qualification to go with your degree.

Publishing

Publishing is also an industry that likes to recruit its fair share of law graduates. Part of this is down to specialist legal publications, which understandably want to recruit staff members who have an appreciation of the area. Other publishers simply like law graduates because they tend to be skilled at research tasks, and simply because a law degree is evidence of hard work. Departments dealing with intellectual property and rights issues may also be open to law graduates with knowledge in these areas.

Best Places to Study Law in the UK

Posted by Frank on November 25, 2014 under Studying & Practicing Law | Be the First to Comment

If you are not currently studying law but considering a career in the industry, there is a strong chance you will be looking into a law degree. However, regardless of subject one of the biggest problems with taking a degree is working out where you should study.

It is possible that this question has been decided for you by circumstances. For example, if you are returning to study as a mature student based in your current home and maintaining a job in the meantime, you might have chosen a local university, or a distance learning option such as the Open University, out of necessity. However, most students approach this decision with the luxury of choice. For the subject of law specifically, these are currently some of the top-ranked universities in the UK.

University of Oxford

It is no great surprise that the list is currently headed by Oxford.  The nearly 1000-year-old institution is famously a world-leader in most subjects, and this includes an exceptionally strong law school. The main catch is the fact that, due to its prestigious nature, entry to Oxford is much harder than getting into most universities. There is an extra application process specific to this university on top of the standard UCAS form, and only very high-achievers are likely to be accepted.

University of Cambridge

Equally unsurprising is the presence of Cambridge in second place. Currently, Oxford is only ranked above Cambridge by a tiny margin (in rankings that use scores out of 100, the difference tends to be measured in decimal points) and this is always subject to change. As Cambridge is similarly prestigious, the disadvantages are much the same as those which apply to Oxford. However, if you can gain access to either of the Oxbridge institutions, your standard of education and current employability will be excellent.

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

While most people who think prestigious universities think Oxbridge, LSE is often placed with those universities as the third corner of the “golden triangle.” It is somewhat more accessible than Oxford and Cambridge, though still looks for higher-achievers than the average institution. People who have graduate from any golden triangle institution have, on average, noticeably higher salaries than graduates of other institutions. One of the key disadvantages of studying anywhere in London is the cost of living, higher in the Capital than in any other part of the UK.

University of Edinburgh

By rankings alone, the University of Edinburgh comes in below University College London (UCL) and King’s College London. However, when all factors are considered, the University of Edinburgh has two key advantages. It offers lower tuition fees in many cases, and the cost of living is also far lower than in London. Despite this, the University of Edinburgh is still a leading university that appears high in world rankings, both in general and specifically for studying law. Overall, this makes it a very appealing place to study indeed.

Law Conversion Courses: A Quick Guide

Posted by Frank on October 20, 2014 under Studying & Practicing Law | Be the First to Comment

Those who would like to consider a career in the law but have not taken a degree in that subject may still have a way in. A law conversion course allows people with a degree in another subject, or in some cases strong relevant experience, to qualify for a legal career after a year’s further study.

What is a Conversion Course?

Commonly known as a law conversion course, this mode of study is more properly known as a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or the Common Professional Examination (CPE). The course takes one year, or two years if taken part-time, and essentially crams the seven core modules of a law degree into a single year’s worth of study. Transferable skills and knowledge gained in your first degree is considered to take the place of the rest of the law degree.

By the end of the GDL, you will essentially be at the same stage as somebody who has just completed a law degree. You will still need to complete a vocational course and a training contract in a law firm (to become a solicitor) or set of chambers (to become a barrister) before you are fully qualified. These requirements are the same as those that apply to law graduates.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of completing a GDL varies, depending on the institution in which you wish to study. Prices for the most recent courses, which began this year, generally ranged from £7,500-£10,000. You may be entitled to a discount if studying at the same institution as you chose for your original degree. There may also be other funding options available from professional bodies or even city law firms.

If taking the course full-time, you will find study very intensive. This has an impact on costs, because it makes it very difficult to fund your course or living expenses with a part-time job while studying. Unless you are able to meet both course costs and living expenses without additional income, you should probably consider the part-time course.

What Does the Conversion Course Entail?

The conversion course entails most of the central aspects of a law degree. This includes the study of seven core modules, which are as follows:

  • Land Law
  • Contract Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • Public Law
  • Criminal Law
  • European Union Law
  • Tort

There will also be additional aspects to the course and examinations you will have to complete. These include an examination based on your ability to analyse an example case, a statute analysis exam, and a project dealing with European Union Law.

 

Heads-up Before Jumping into a Law Degree

Posted by Frank on August 28, 2013 under Studying & Practicing Law | Be the First to Comment

If you are in your sixth form, college, taking a gap year off or simply looking to go back into education and a law degree has caught your eye, then read the following list of points which this article has compiled to inform future law students of the task which is ahead of them. Often many students jump into the mammoth task of studying law without being fully informed of the future career prospects and academic requirements needed of them.

Career

Reading and graduating with a law degree from university will get you universal respect amongst employers and society in general. The course is demanding and often tests your ability to handle pressure, work towards tight deadlines and conduct multiple complex tasks at a time. However, a career in law may not be secured by graduating with a law degree and the future prospects of becoming a lawyer are often inflated by many universities. The reality is that the number of training contracts and pupillages being offered to students at law firms and chambers is on the down turn. The next myth surrounding a career in law is the pay which comes with it. The first thing that comes to most peoples mind is little work for astronomical amounts of money. However this is far from the truth especially in a lawyers early days and sectors such as the criminal bar pay very little and less compared to other less respected professions.

There’s so much reading

Most students generally going to university are prepared for the amount of reading that they are about to take on through the horror stories which they have heard from their friends and relatives. In fact studying law is much worse! This is because in order to obtain a good solid grade in any subject it is near enough impossible to pull an all nighter the night before the exam. Third year students are required to have an solid understanding of the law and the underlying policies behind it which means reading 100 in a rush 7 hours before the exam just won’t cut it.

Be organised

In order to avoid dreadful and stressful all night library sessions you must be able to manage your time efficiently while prioritising school work ahead of partying and drinking sessions with your friends. Another skill which is grasped and not taught in university is being able to selectively study. A good amount of the text you come across may not be relevant for the type of assignment you will be put through at the end of the year meaning it can be skimmed or left out as a whole.