Law universities – the route to a fulfilling career

Law - lady justiceLaw is a fascinating, thought-provoking subject allowing you to learn from the mistakes the defendants and accused alike have made. Some students follow the legal path to become professionals: solicitors and barristers. In the pursuit of knowledge, other students gain legal expertise in an area or field of law i.e. Commercial Law. Overall whatever path you decide to take, law is a valuable course, it equips you with necessary skills and knowledge i.e. advocacy skills, legal research skills and so on, which will come in handy in different facets of life.

Different universities, different specialisms

Law universities are more often referred to as law schools, and in fact many universities have a separate law school (law university) attached. Most universities offer the general and popular specialist law courses such as: International Business Law, European Law and Intellectual Property Law. However, there are less common specialist LLM courses, which are solely thought at only a few specific institutions i.e. Aerospace/Aviation Law, McGill University in Montreal, offers a LLM in Civil Aviation and Space Law.

Life as a student, studying a law course, might not be so glamorous as you’re studying and absorbing vast amounts of information in a relatively short space of time, but in the end it is worth it. When studying for the LPC, BPTC and GDL programs, you should devote your time and work hard, as the vocational stage is very important in the overall process. Law firms/chambers with whom you want to secure a training contract or pupillage with will look at your overall performance at your law university to try and establish how efficient and good you will be in the workplace.

Dr Philip Roberts, head of program development at Kaplan Law School states: "It is a very intensive course, and some of the ways of studying that students may have developed as undergraduates – for example, leaving things to the last minute and then working all night to finish an essay – can cause them problems."

Be sure to leave any undergrad bad habits behind – it’s time to study and learn in a much more grown up manner!

Look for a training contract early on

Law training contract

Most students go into law universities with the single intention of securing a training contract or pupillage. However, it is important to begin to search for a training contract or pupillage at an early stage, far too many students concentrate on achieving top grades at the academic stage-undergraduate and the vocational stage-LPC (Legal Practice Course) and BPTC (Bar Professional Training Contract). Many have this notion of ‘I will cross that bridge when I get there’, but it is much better to have a strategy and begin to plan the eventuality before you get there.Although life in itself can be unpredictable, having a workable plan is crucial.

Begin to look for training contracts/pupillage early, network with those who have secured their vocational training, and attend career fairs where you can liaise with employers. The reality is all those top grades could amount to a waste, if at the end of the day there isn’t a training contract/pupillage to show, which is important if you want to become a solicitor or a barrister.

David Carter, recruitment partner at top City law firm Ashurst, explains: "I would say that a portion of time should really be spent on the steps to be taken after law school — it is a vocational course after all. I hope that this training contract hunt would not be at the expense of achieving top results, but if the endpoint is a training contract and a few marks less, then so be it. Please note that the best students manage to encompass excellence in all respects and that is who we look for."

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