So you want to do a Masters of Laws (LLM) in the UK – one of the best countries to study law in the world? One big decision down, one to go. How on earth do you choose which law school to attend? Despite the temptation to go where your friends are going, it makes more sense to make a rational and carefully considered decision based on the information available (good practice for your future career). You will want to maximise your chances of landing your dream job with a decent law firm after all the blood, sweat and tears.
Where to start…
The first place to start is with law school rankings; other knowledgeable people have sifted through the facts and figures and generated a list of who they believe to be the top law schools in the UK. However, it is worth noting that these change year after year, and each different ranking system will place greater importance on different variables.
These factors will include (but may not be limited to) results, entry requirements, student satisfaction and subsequent employment statistics.
For instance, the top five law schools in the following league tables are:
The Times (2015): 1. Cambridge 2. Oxford 3. Durham 4. Nottingham 5. LSE
The Guardian (2015): 1. Cambridge 2. Oxford 3. Queen Mary 4. UCL 5. LSE
The Complete University Guide (2017): 1. Cambridge 2. Oxford 3. UCL 4. LSE 5. KCL
As you can see there is a consistent top two, but if you're not aiming for the elitist universities your choice widens up.
Other rankings information to think about
Based on 'graduate prospects' (deemed people who have employment within a year of graduation) the UK Studying Law website has a very different top five: 1. UCL 2. Strathclyde 3. Cambridge 4. Oxford 5. Aberdeen. Worth noting that this site doesn't specify if these graduates were employed in a law-related job though!
Another (law) school of thought (sorry) is to select a law school based on which 'group' it resides in. For instance, is it one of the 20 universities who receive the majority of research grant funding ('The Russell Group')?
While law school rankings are an invaluable first port of call, there are a plethora of other considerations to factor into your decision too. Do you particularly admire a member of faculty? Have you been inspired by a former student blog? Is there a specific legal sector you want to specialise in for which one institute is more suited to? What LLM specialism are you interested in? Is there a particular geographic region that calls to you? Bustling city? Small village? Are tuition fees an important consideration?
It may also be worth noting the number of legal firms in the surrounding area – after all you may end up doing work experience that could lead to a future toe in the door. Similarly, local courts can provide invaluable networking opportunities.
With all this information swirling around in your mind, nothing beats a good old pros and cons list, because at the end of the day, even with all the rankings information at your finger tips, only you can decide which law school feels best suited to you.