23rd May 2018
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Whether it’s inspired by the latest series of Suits or a desire for justice, there’s no shortage of students ambitious to pursue a career in law. According to The Complete University Guide, law is the second most popular course searched by students after Physiotherapy.
However, with a variety of types of law courses to choose from, a compelling Personal Statement to write, and the dreaded LNAT to sit, it’s not surprising that students find the process of applying daunting.
Here are 4 factors that should be considered by any student applying for law:
- Choosing the right course
If it’s their dream to practice law, students should opt for a ‘qualifying law degree’ (QLD). However there’s no one undergraduate law course. Students can choose from an LLB (Bachelor of Laws), a BA or a BSc - and in each case they’ll need to check if a given course amounts to a QLD.
More detail on the different types at the end of this article, but for now we’ll focus on the LLB. The defining factor of the LLB is that students spend most of their time studying law modules. However, this doesn’t mean that all LLB courses are the same. Students can apply for courses that teach them the law whilst also building their other interests.
Here are some variations of LLB courses that students might not have considered:
- Law and Politics (LLB) Cardiff University
This course offers students the chance to gain a qualifying law degree whilst studying politics modules. In addition to the traditional law modules students could find themselves studying the following modules:
- Political Thought from Marx to Nietzsche
- International Security - Concepts and Issues
- Colonialism, GPE and Development
- Philosophy, Politics and Law (LLB) King’s College London
This course is very interdisciplinary. Across 4 years students will study the key areas of legal knowledge whilst having the opportunity to take modules in:
- Greek Philosophy: Plato
- Philosophy of Mind
- Political Change in Europe
- Law with Psychology (LLB) Nottingham University
This course draws on the close relationship between psychology and law. It offers students the chance to immerse themselves in both disciplines and goes to show that there are many variations of the LLB. Students shouldn’t think that an LLB restricts their chances of studying law in tandem with their other interests - it doesn’t!
- The Personal Statement
The Personal Statement is at the heart of every UCAS application. For law students it poses a conundrum: how to demonstrate a desire to study a subject that most students have not studied before.
Rather than focusing on moments of divine inspiration when students realised that studying law was their raison d'être, they should use the Personal Statement to demonstrate that they have the key skills needed to be a lawyer.
A law Personal Statement should:
- Showcase their writing skills by writing clearly and using their own words - not lengthy quotes from ‘The Apology’.
- Illustrate their ability to understand and scrutinise an argument - this could be done by discussing an article from a newspaper with a legal theme. The ‘Brexit’ and Charlie Gard cases would be interesting examples to use!
- Highlight teamworking skills.
- Draw attention to oral communication skills - this skill is really valued by universities, especially as most student law societies host advocacy events (‘moots’).
- Work experience
Work experience allows students to illustrate their interest in law. It is an important section within a Personal Statement - but students shouldn’t be too concerned if their work experience is small scale at this stage.
Opportunities of work experience prior to university are difficult to come by. However, students should try to obtain some legal related experience to showcase their interest in law.
For instance, students could:
- Attend the public viewing gallery at The Old Bailey or their local court.
- Ask to shadow a local solicitor/barrister - whether students receive a reply is another matter!
- Marshalling - this involves shadowing a judge and opportunities can be obtained by contacting a local crown or county court.
- The LNAT
The National Admissions Test for Law is often a cause of major concern for students. Here are the important points students need to remember when it comes to the LNAT:
- It’s not a test of legal knowledge.
- It’s a two part test.
- Part A is multiple choice comprehension test made up of 42 questions - this is what’s used to calculate their score.
- Part B is an essay question - it offers an opportunity for students to demonstrate their writing skills and ability to argue. Part B does not form part of the LNAT score but is available for universities to read as part of the selection process.
- There are practice tests available!
- Here are the universities that require the LNAT - University of Bristol, University of Durham, Univeristy of Glasgow, King’s College London, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, SOAS, University College London.
So, whilst the process of applying for law can be intimidating, students should remember to play to their strengths and draw on all their experiences. Universities aren’t expecting the finished article - just a genuine desire to study the subject.
QLD (Qualifying Law Degree) - this means that a course satisfies the professional requirements to progress directly to vocational training without taking a conversion course.
Changes announced by the SRA mean it is now less important for aspiring solicitors to hold a QLD as all students must take the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) regardless of whether their original degree was a QLD.
LLB (Legum Baccalaureus) - this is the traditional law course. Students predominantly study law modules and most amount to a qualifying law degree. Here’s a full list of QLD providers and courses.
BA (Bachelor of Arts) - this degree gives students opportunities to study non-law modules. It can amount to a QLD - but students need to check before applying!
BSc (Bachelor of Science) - this permits students to gain an award in science with a proportion of their study focusing on law modules. Most do not amount to a QLD, so students must check before applying.