In defence of the GDL

  • Print
  • Comments (58)

Readers' comments (58)

  • Being a "normal" Johnny Law Degree this article is a hard read, it will no doubt provoke debate amongst lawyers and GDLers alike.

    Obviously, having not studied law at University, many of your assertions lack knowledge. Whilst it may, indeed, be possible to "scrape through" first year with a comfy 40, the fact of the matter is that simply is not good enough for those wanting to secure vacation schemes and mini pupillages in year 2 - where first year grades count for a good deal.

    "Proper" law students do not have the luxury of doing trusts in their third year - that is entirely dependant on University - personally I read land law in first year and trusts in second year. Needless to say niether were "gifts" as you have it.

    As regards GDLers having the so called advantage of not having to rifle through old first year land law notes before interviews at traditional Chancery sets - as you will find out that is not what pupillage interview is about. If, indeed, you get an interview at the Chancery Bar, which I must say still is the most traditional and Oxbridge dominated, procedure and such like will dominate the agenda - academia is almost irrelevant. Another fully research assertion you make, obviously.

    I move on. "It is regarded as equal to a law degree". Another poor assertion. Quite how a diploma can be regarded as equal to a law degree is beyond my logic. However, the simple fact that, by your own admission, you are not afforded the "luxury of doing electives", points to a different conclusion. Those with a law degree have a much deeper well routed understanding of the law - a fact the GDL students seem to discover on the BVC. Legal Research will be a telling exam for those who have barely engaged in any such activity at all, I suggest you make a start - try the law student way and look up cases and articles ever day for three years and then your diploma may be equal to a law degree. Perhaps my logic is flawed.

    If one believes the GDL is hard work, I wish you luck on the BPTC. Many say it is more time consuming still.

    My conclusion is short and simple. A law degree gives a much fuller foundation for practice; legal research skills, a broader background outside of the core modules and a cemented understanding of key principles. None of these, in my humble opinion, result from the GDL, at least not to a satisfactory standard.

    Be careful of stats, they can often lie.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Only a GDL student could have produced such a sub-standard article.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Right, well, Johnny Law Degree you assert that 'Obviously, having not studied law at University, many of your assertions lack knowledge', however the same can be said of your ill informed concluding comment on the (sub)standard to which GDL students are taught key principles of law and legal research skills. You humble opinion is of course biased towards your own route into practice.

    While I do concede that it is important to not simply 'scrape through' the first year of a law degree lest you are looked on unfavourably by sets and firms offering work experience, it is not necessary to do mini-pupillages and VACs schemes later on during the degree and indeed even on the BPTC. My point therefore was simply that you get a year to, as it were, ease into the study of law, while us GDL students have little time to become proficient.

    You mention rather defensively that you studied Trusts in your second year and not your third. I do apologise, I did not realise this was dependent on university, however the fact still remains that you were able to study only a few modules per year, allowing you to devote greater time to them. This, you must concede is rather more helpful than having to learn every module at once. Then, given the tenor of your rebuttal perhaps not.

    As for your observation that pupillage interviews are largely procedure based with virtually no substantive law element to them, surely some law relating to the set's practice area must be retained for interview.

    As for regarding the GDL as equal to a law degree, that is simply in the context of preparation for practice. If chambers and firms were not satisfied that GDL students are as able as those with law degrees, they would simply stop offering training contracts and pupillage to those from the former category. However, as I am sure you know, they don't. Oh and you might ponder the fact that while you may have a law degree and a mere diploma may ordinarily pale in comparison, I will have a non-law degree and an LLB after completing my BPTC. I know what I'd prefer.

    As for Legal Research, it is foolish to think that GDL students do not research any of our own cases, of course we do. Furthermore, many of this year's contingent also took part in mooting which you may know also helps garner skills in legal research.


    One does believe the GDL is hard work and so this will be a good grounding for the BPTC if you are indeed correct that the BPTC is more time consuming. Anecdotally however I have heard more evidence to the contrary. Perhaps the many you speak of did law degrees.

    Best of luck with the rest of your studies and thanks for commenting so passionately, I was worried the article wouldn't be provocative enough.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Any idiot can coast through the 3 leisurely years of an LLB and emerge with a Desmond, the GDL really sorts the wheat from the chaff. Half my course had vanished after a couple of months.

    Savvy firms and chambers know it. Many GDLers had former pressured careers, I worked as a manager at an investment company... the intense nature of the GDL is the most accurate mimic of life in the commercial world, the pressure and the pace that modern employers expect. The recruitment stats indeed don't lie, anyone clued up running a business would be daft to favour llbers over those who have passed the GDL.

    The GDL isn't just a 'diploma'... it converts an existing degree which is why it is called a conversion course - doh. Without an initial degree you need ten years managerial working experience to be allowed to take it.

    You can see the difference in the way tutors speak of LLBers compared with GDL students... the general feeling is that LLBers have to be spoonfed and wet-nursed but the latter are altogether a hardier and more self-reliant breed.

    If you're hiring it's a no brainer. Getting a commendation or distinction on the GDL says far more about the kind of performance you are likely to get on the job.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "If one believes the GDL is hard work, I wish you luck on the BPTC. Many say it is more time consuming still."

    Utter nonsense ! It's a doss in comparison.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The GDL is a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD). It is palpably absurd to compare it to an LLB. Nine tenths of the work in one third of the time? There's no skimping on the standard and what has to be learned, it's the same stuff, the exams and assessments are nigh identical.

    By any measure of logic the GDL is a much harder qualification to attain than the LLB and furthermore, speaks volumes to any employer about working under pressure.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What utter rubbish Rajesh Vora.

    Yes the GDL is a difficult qualification to obtain due to the vastness of what has to be mastered, but one must bare in mind that most employers put far more emphasis on the first degree results than the GDL. This means, if one studies something easy like politics, and scores very high grades and then goes onto score 40s and 50s on the GDL - they still stand a far greater chance of obtaining a TC or Puipillage at a good place, over someone who studies the LLB at a quality university, like yours - and scores low 60s, high 50s. One may state that the politics student is more intellegent, which is certainly bollocks, because law is one of the hardest degrees to study.

    With regards to comparing your GDLplusbvc/lpc = LL.B to a proper LL.B is silly. University LL.Bs not only meet the SRA requirements, but also meet the universites own quality requirements, which varies from institution to institution. Lets stick to the proper pre-1992 Universites, and I will be suprised if anyone intelliegent will agree that this law school LL.B is worth the same as a LLB from a established university. Yes your GDL may have been assessed to the same standards as other pollyers your studying with, but it will not be anywhere near the standards of the top 20 law departments.

    Law firms recruit GDLers because the role of trainee and low ranking solicitors does not require a 1st class LL.B. However as one goes up the rank, the difference between real lawyers over the glorified admin assistants becomes apparent.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "the fact still remains that you were able to study only a few modules per year".

    That makes no sense at all. The GDL has seven modules, most law degrees have six to eight modules each year. Your attempt at making a point falls flat on its face.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • “My point therefore was simply that you get a year to, as it were, ease into the study of law, while us GDL students have little time to become proficient.”

    What were you doing during your original degree? Surely after a three year degree you should be well used to studying. Your point fails.

    “surely some law relating to the set's practice area must be retained for interview.”

    Unlikely as interviewers don’t normally assume a knowledge of any particular area of law due to the different content of every university’s law courses.

    “As for Legal Research”

    Pointless capitalisation.

    “the general feeling is that LLBers have to be spoonfed and wet-nursed but the latter are altogether a hardier and more self-reliant breed.”

    I studied a law degree followed by one module of the GDL. The GDL module practically shoved a spoon in my mouth. Full notes, recorded lectures, full packs containing all reading material and copies of cases were given out by the college. The law degree had very little of that and I had to do almost everything for myself.

    “Getting a commendation or distinction on the GDL says far more about the kind of performance you are likely to get on the job.”

    No it doesn’t. Academia, especially in law, is no guide to how you’ll actually perform in any job.

    “One may state that the politics student is more intellegent, which is certainly bollocks, because law is one of the hardest degrees to study.”

    Full agree with this. My Russell Group uni virtually refused to hand out any mark above sixty.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "suprised if anyone intelliegent"

    Not you then, if your spelling and grammar are anything to go by.

    I'm sure even a 'glorified admin assistant' could do better.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It's not surprising that those who have completed the LLB want to see themselves as objectively superior - it must be galling to start at the same line as those who have only done 1 year instead of 3. Usually older students with more life and work experience (and confidence) - essential attributes for a succesful lawyer.

    It's the same attitude with most conversion courses or masters. My girlfriend did an IT conversion from engineering and although this is routinely sneered at by some who did the 'full' degree, her employers certainly don't see it as inferior in any way. It was almost regarded as a fast-track for high fliers.

    The fact that the GDL is taken at an ex-polly is irrelevant. They're simply the places which do most of these courses now. E.g: You can do the GDL at Manchester Met but not at Manch Uni - it just isn't available... the upshot of this is that you get some serious quality people on the courses at these 'pollys'. The current GDL year at Manchester Met has ex-broadcast journalists, the former deputy chief constable of Cheshire (no less) and many other high fliers (in former careers) studying there... 2.1s from good Unis are ten a penny. LLBers can hardly string a sentence together (as much of the grammar and spelling above would attest)

    To any GDL students out there, don't take any notice of a few bitter LLBers slagging off the GDL - after all, they would, wouldn't they?
    The employment statistics tell a very different story

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Everyone knows that 2 years out of a 3 year degree are spent getting pissed and trying to get laid. Students know this and employers who were students themselves know this. All degrees could really be 18 months if students were expected to work rather than ponce about having a party.

    That's all the GDL is, a law degree without the piddling about. It's a more mature qualification.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anyone who suggests that the GDL is in any way easy or inferior to a law degree is clearly deluded. I studied the GDL after completing a degree at the University of Durham. I can honestly say the year spent studying the GDL was by far more intense than the whole three years of my degree course combined.

    Not only did it require several hours solid work ,every day of the week, the financial pressures meant I had to squeeze in a part time job as well.

    The level of persistance and endurance needed to complete this demanding course will never be understood by someone who has not studied it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • “Usually older students with more life and work experience (and confidence) - essential attributes for a succesful lawyer.”

    Unlikely. Most people take the GDL immediately after their degree, although a tiny number do have some experience that doesn’t amount to working in a shop.

    “The fact that the GDL is taken at an ex-polly is irrelevant.”

    That’s not how employers see things.

    “The employment statistics tell a very different story”

    Please elaborate on this.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I've worked in recruitment and I can tell you that a significant number of firms specify a preference for GDL students. A lot of them already have work/life experience and are much better for commercial employers because they hit the ground running.

    Experience of another career is a definite plus. There's nothing more off-putting for a client than some clueless fresh-faced kid.

    The undercurrent in law these days is to recruit experienced people from outside the profession. Law is one of those areas (unlike meeja) where gravitas and experience inspire client-confidence.

    Anyone who thinks that GDL students are viewed as inferior is deluding themselves, the opposite is the case.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • My word! Some people are unbelievably sour! As the person above said, it really doesn't matter what we all think about GDLs, LLBs (I love how one individual was anal enough to write "LL.B"), "pre-1992 uni's" (what a snob!) and ex-pols...the facts in recruiting speak for themselves, it's always 40/60 or 50/50 and that continues right up the management chain. Think about it, do you want a firm where everyone has the same perspective, or one where peoples' differences enable them to engage with a problem from multiple viewpoints?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Heh. Yes, you can tell which group feels most threatened with all their 'poly' inferior stuff.

    This shrill prejudice isn't reflected in recruitment... no indeedy... GDL is harder to get by far... firms know this.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Some people are completely missing the point: GDL students aren’t people that just walk of the street, they already have a degree. They have spent the 3 -4 years as an undergraduate learning the skills and academic procedures absent from the GDL.

    For example, the reason the GDL ‘spoon feeds’ you where an LLBer would have had to research is because the majority (if not all) degrees involve a substantial amount of research, essay writing, requirement to master ‘technical terms’, etc. It does not take 3 years to master using lexis or any other law-specific search engine.

    The purpose of the GDL is to provide the fundamental legal knowledge required to practice law; it already (correctly) assumes they have the more in-depth academic skills and procedures that those with an LLB are meant to possess.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Here is what the great Peter Birks (if you didn't do a law degree you'll have to google him) wrote about conversion courses:

    "You get what you pay for. You get a large number of lawyers, all of whom have studied, at breakneck speed, just six subjects and always exactly the same six, currently contract, tort, land law, trusts, criminal law and constitutional-cum-administrative law. The six-disease, one-year doctor is unthinkable. The six-subject, one-year lawyer is unknown anywhere else in the world. In Germany, where the competition will ultimately come from, a two-year vocational stage is preceded in the over-whelming majority of cases by five years' academic study of the law, and there is no way at all of reducing that five years to less than four.

    Advocates for the one-year course should be made to list the subjects to which they attach no importance: Comparative Law, Company, Competition, Computers/Information Technology, Conflicts of Law, Consumer Law, Environmental Law, European Law, Evidence, Family Law, Insolvency, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Labour Law, Legal History, Legal Philosophy, Public International Law, Race Relations/Ethnic Minorities, Remedies, Restitution, Sentencing/Penology, Succession, Taxation, Welfare and Social Security.

    A person knows nothing of any of these cannot be called learned in the law. And a practising profession which welcomes people who know nothing of any of them is neglecting its long-term, perhaps even its medium-term future..."

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "This shrill prejudice isn't reflected in recruitment... no indeedy"

    Rubbish - look at the Bar

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Pure good old fashioned Oxbridge snobbery. Law can't possibly be compared with medicine. A much higher IQ and mathematical ability is required to study medicine. A great deal of legal 'study' is actually on the job during pupillage or training contract. The LLB itself isn't particularly demanding and the final exams taken at LLB and GDL are virtually identical.

    The average LLB graduate wouldn't have a clue regarding most of those subjects ( cited above) away from the core foundations.

    You forgot to add that the GDL isn't just six subjects, it's actually eight. There is an initial English Legal System requirement and an additional legal subject (eg. Family, employment, company.)

    You can do an LLB in a year if you have the brains and the determination. The same is not true in the medical world where practice makes perfect and human lives are at stake, not quite the same as the risk of a clerical error in a firm.

    Birks was typical of his generation and understandably wanted to big up the legal profession by comparing it with medicine - it ain't the same. I'm sure he was also the type who lamented the decline of latin phraseology, there will always be someone gnashing their teeth about a decline in standards - was it ever thus..

    Other countries have similar fast tracks for those who have already attained an academic standard of which (mentioned above) is at least half of the LLB. E.G You can do a Juris Doctor in two years.

    The GDL and the LLB are substantively the same, the only significant difference is that you have a third of the time in the GDL to reach pretty much the same standard. As any tutor will tell you, at LEAST a third of the LLB is spent teaching clueless teenagers the basics of academic study.

    If firms seriously thought there was a difference in quality then GDL students simply wouldn't get hired, market forces would reign, as they almost always do.

    We know that this isn't the case, right the way up the chain - res ipsa loquitur.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Birks just didn't like the profession's focus on the 7 core areas of law. He thought the modern LLB was cra* too. He was one of those academics who thought that law had to be studied for a billion years in a monestary before someone could join the super duper inner circle.

    What rubbish, law is an industry like any other in the modern world not some daft academic utopia from the fifties.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Rubbish - look at the Bar"

    Yes and the shrinking Bar is suffering badly from market forces due to it's anachronistic practices, nepotism and snobbery. Anyone training to be a Barrister now needs their head looking at.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • “Pure good old fashioned Oxbridge snobbery.”

    I didn’t go to Oxbridge.

    “A much higher IQ is required to study medicine.”

    Simply not true, particularly when you compare top Law Faculties with top Medicine Faculties.

    “A great deal of legal 'study' is actually on the job during pupillage or training contract. “

    Again, most legal study is done, unsurprisingly, at the studying stage. Practising teaches you to apply the law.

    “The LLB itself isn't particularly demanding and the final exams taken at LLB and GDL are virtually identical.”

    This is your most absurd statement. Have you ever seen an LLB finals paper?! If you had there is no way you would compare it to a GDL exam. Plus, on the LLB the answers aren’t given to you on a plate so there is a much wider scope you have to cover.

    “The average LLB graduate wouldn't have a clue regarding most of those subjects (cited above) away from the core foundations.”

    They would “have a clue” about at least 3 of them, that is more than a GDL student can claim.

    “You forgot to add that the GDL isn't just six subjects, it's actually eight. There is an initial English Legal System requirement and an additional legal subject (eg. Family, employment, company.)”

    Semantics, it was an old quote, the point stands.

    “You can do an LLB in a year if you have the brains and the determination.”

    Where???

    “Birks was typical of his generation and understandably wanted to big up the legal profession by comparing it with medicine - it ain't the same. I'm sure he was also the type who lamented the decline of latin phraseology, there will always be someone gnashing their teeth about a decline in standards - was it ever thus.”

    What’s wrong with high standards? Birks was not some ancient, anachronistic professor.

    “Other countries have similar fast tracks for those who have already attained an academic standard of which (mentioned above) is at least half of the LLB. E.G You can do a Juris Doctor in two years.”

    This is the case in the most capitalist countries where you can get anything if you are prepared to pay. If you go to the continent where the legal profession is taken seriously such shortcuts are unthinkable.

    “The GDL and the LLB are substantively the same, the only significant difference is that you have a third of the time in the GDL to reach pretty much the same standard.”

    You really do think that the standard required to pass GDL exams is the same as the standard required to pass LLB exams, don’t you..!

    “As any tutor will tell you, at LEAST a third of the LLB is spent teaching clueless teenagers the basics of academic study.”

    Even if this is true (which I doubt) that would account for 1 year of a 3 year LLB. That means the LLB student then has 2 years of studying the law. You cannot say that I have a 2:1 undergraduate degree in, say, history and therefore I have done the “academic” side of law. Law is a completely unique discipline that requires hours of practice and honing in a library. There is no substitute for that.

    “If firms seriously thought there was a difference in quality then GDL students simply wouldn't get hired, market forces would reign, as they almost always do.”

    Not true. Firms simply don’t care. What’s most important is how presentable and commercially aware the applicant is, legal ability comes a distant second.

    Being a good lawyer is a combination of different abilities, fair enough, just don’t say the GDL is “equivalent to” an LLB. It isn’t.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "I didn’t go to Oxbridge."

    I never said you did. Given your post it was obvious I was talking about Birks.

    "Simply not true, particularly when you compare top Law Faculties with top Medicine Faculties."

    Nonsense, doctors have a much higher average IQ than lawyers.

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/bulletin/bulletinpdf/newbulletin8.pdf


    "This is your most absurd statement. Have you ever seen an LLB finals paper?! "

    Yes indeed, I have looked at all the past LLB papers for the last three years in prep for my GDL finals, they contain exactly the same kind of problem questions, cover the same areas and are substantively identical. You don't live on the same planet if you think there's any real difference.

    "This is the case in the most capitalist countries where you can get anything if you are prepared to pay."

    Nonsense, such fast tracks enable you to practice in many different countries such as the US and Australia - we're not talking banana republics or internet degrees - your straw man argument falls flat.

    "You really do think that the standard required to pass GDL exams is the same as the standard required to pass LLB exams, don’t you..!"

    Yes because it absolutely is. You could swap one exam paper for another and no one would notice.

    "Law is a completely unique discipline that requires hours of practice and honing in a library."

    Sorry, have you been in cryogenic suspension since the seventies? Ever heard of Westlaw and Nexis? Law isn't unique at all, there are many transferable skills from other areas of study that fit with legal method very nicely. Stop trying to make it sound more important than it actually is, we're not potential clients on here y'know.

    "They would “have a clue” about at least 3 of them, that is more than a GDL student can claim"

    Yeah probably about one more... as the GDL involves english legal system, family and EU law from that list. You can swot up to LLB exam-level standard for family law in about 3 weeks.

    "Semantics"

    Uh... no. I suggest you look up the definition of semantics and then re read the point.


    "What’s wrong with high standards?"

    Nothing, I'm not saying that the GDL is higher or lower standard than the LLB, they're pretty much the same standard it's just that the GDL is completed in a third of the time because those taking it already know how to string a sentence together. If standards have declined then they have declined across the board.

    “You can do an LLB in a year if you have the brains and the determination.”

    "Where???"

    Anywhere there's a GDL course :-)

    "Firms simply don’t care."

    Now you are being absurd.

    "just don’t say the GDL is “equivalent to” an LLB. It isn’t."

    The SRA and the Bar Standards Board seem to think so... no doubt you are right and they're wrong.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I do the GDL now - its not that hard. There's a lot to it (quantity) but content wise its not that hard. Whilst I've had to work harder than I did on my degree, the learning is far easier.

    End of the day, law as a subject is easier and more enjoyable to learn than a science or mathematical degree.

    Neither us GDL students nor 'real law degree' students are amazing. Doesn't mean we can't wiggle our way into a magic circle firm though.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • maturestudent, since you introduced grammatical pedantry to the debate, it's 'poly' not 'polly'

    (greek, not parrots, mate. thanks for your contribution anyway...)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "You really do think that the standard required to pass GDL exams is the same as the standard required to pass LLB exams, don’t you..!"

    Given that some GDL students will study at institutions alongside LLB cohorts, please don't exaggerate and distort any substantive differences between the two; I sit in the same lectures, study the same core syllabus and am examined upon the same papers. There has been no difference in tutorial assistance, marking criteria or requirements to undertake further research into academic debate etc.

    That GDL students do not extend their substantive knowledge into more specialised electives is undeniable but as you yourself appear to acknowledge, legal ability is at least as much about the 'practice and honing' of application as it is about the acquisition of fact and authority. My diploma, examined through the same exams as the LLB, will simply not allow me to be so leniently distinguished from any LLB undergraduate as you ignorantly wish to assume.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Given that some GDL students will study at institutions alongside LLB cohorts, please don't exaggerate and distort any substantive differences between the two; I sit in the same lectures, study the same core syllabus and am examined upon the same papers. There has been no difference in tutorial assistance, marking criteria or requirements to undertake further research into academic debate etc."

    I do not know of any of the top law faculties where LLB and GDL students sit side by side in lectures or sit the same exams.

    If you are referring to an ex-poly then fine, your GDL might be the "equivalent" of your classmates' LLB but everybody knows that there is a huge gap in quality between the standards of a top law faculty and some of the other law faculties around the country.

    I'm sorry if this sounds like academic snobbery, but it's true.

    It's like that car advert:

    "just like a Golf"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "I'm sorry if this sounds like academic snobbery, but it's true."

    Nope, it's pure snobbery with no evidence to back it up whatsoever. Pure assertion.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "everybody knows"

    Do they? Who? What insubstantial rubbish. And you want to be a lawyer?
    Argumentum ad populum


    Both LLB and GDL are Qualifying Law Degrees WHEREVER they are obtained.
    They satisfy the legal professional bodies’ requirements for the academic stage of legal
    training for England and Wales, and enable students to enter the vocational Stage of training as a solicitor or a barrister where they will gain practical knowledge and skills.

    "I'm sorry if this sounds like academic snobbery, but it's true."

    It sounds like academic snobbery because that's precisely what it IS.

    Something isn't true simply because you feel it must be.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It's not about how long you do the course for, it's about the depth in which you study the subjects.

    I did a four year LLB honours degree in Scotland, at a Russell Group university. These are the first and second year courses:

    1st Year
    Legal Reasoning and Legal System
    Contract and Unjustified Enrichment
    Family Law Ordinary
    Public Law of the UK and Scotland
    Delict Ordinary
    Further Courses
    2nd Year
    Jurisprudence
    Property Law Ordinary 1
    Property Law Ordinary 2
    Business Entities
    Commercial Law Ordinary
    Public Law and Individual Rights
    Criminal Law Ordinary
    European Community Law A
    Taxation Ordinary
    Evidence
    Trusts and Succession Ordinary

    Then two years of in depth honours study, culminating in four honours exams and a 10,000 word dissertation.

    I cannot fathom that in one year it's possible to cover the above, in sufficient depth to have a real, detailed, comprehensive grasp of core subject areas for commercial practice, and key legal principles such as contract, delict (tort), evidence.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think we should have more of these chats on http://www.lawstudentforum.co.uk as we love to get into these issues!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So it's simply "pure assertion" to say that there is a substantial difference between studying law at a faculty where the entry requirements are AAA + LNAT and a faculty where the entry requirement is CCC, is it ? Be realistic.

    As the above poster rightly states, it all comes down to the depth you study the subjects in.

    Any law student who has decided to use nutshells and a "more accessible" text book used at the ex-polys rather than do the reading they have been set will be able to tell you what happens... You think you've submitted a really good piece of work and it comes back covered in red pen due to the shortcuts and generalisations these textbooks employ. There are different levels of depth of legal study (as in any subject.)

    Of course both the GDL + the LLB both satisfy the professional bodies' requirements but this does not mean that they are simply "equal."

    It is not arrogant to assert that an LLB is a more rounded and substantial legal qualification, it is an undisputable empirical fact.

    What IS arrogant is to assert that after a 9 month crammer which merely touches the surface one has obtained a qualification "equivalent" to an LLB.

    Perhaps if somebody set up a "history" or "maths" school which charged £10,000 a year to spoon feed the basics of some of your undergraduate degrees you would also be slightly sceptical about the courses validity.

    This is a silly debate anyway. Almost all of the GDL students I know who went to decent unis acknowledge that the GDL provides a superficial knowledge of the law compared to an LLB since they are happy with their own undergraduate degrees.

    They will go on to become equally good, if not better lawyers because they appreciate that after just 9 months of rushed legal cramming they do not yet "know it all" (something most LLB students also realise very early on in their degree)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "I cannot fathom that in one year it's possible to cover the above, in sufficient depth to have a real, detailed, comprehensive grasp of core subject areas for commercial practice, and key legal principles such as contract, delict (tort), evidence."


    Oh purleeze. Undergrad students are drunk for half the course. Lecturers are always complaining that LLB students on the LPC can't remember most of what they've (supposedly) been taught.

    The vast majority of three year degrees (including LLBs) could be done in half the time or less. Students simply adapt to the pace ala Parkinson's law. Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

    Look, it's understandable that LLB ers are bitter but get over it chaps, enough already.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Who cares? GDL or Law degree? I read that 40% of solicitors in the City of London came through the GDL route. In my experience I have not been able to find any noticeable difference between a GDL Lawyer and an LLB Lawyer.
    I think one big difference is if you want to qualify in New York. With a GDL you need to take an extra 20 semester credit hours IN the USA (distance learnign doesn't count) while those with an LLB can sit the exam right after getting the LLB. The CoL brought a test case before the NY bar and failed. I believe the Law Society are continuing to lobby the NY Bar on the basis that they should allow all English qulaified solicitors to take the bar exam without looking behind the title but the discrimination continues.....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Bpp gives you an LLB for the GDL plus only two additional modules.

    http://www.bpplawschool.com/programmes/awardofllb/index.htm

    Can't be that much more 'in depth' then. It would seem that the GDL party are winning this particular argument. Evidently a great part of the actual LLB is academic training per se.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What a lot of the immature on here also fail to realise is that many students on the GDL have actual legal experience. I was a lay representative for an investment company and spent four years appearing in the County Courts. There are several paralegals on my GDL course, none of them need to spend three years doing an LLB, two of which are learning to write essays.

    There is a great deal of ignorance on here about the GDL. It is an incredibly arduous and intensive course, even for those used to working in a high pressure environment.

    The LLB is a good degree but come on guys, stop trying to dis something that is quite well regarded in the profession. It doesn't do you much credit.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • James Harvey: "It's a doss in comparison."

    Try reading law while working 100 hours a week, while being bombed, while being shot at, while being thousands of miles from the UK. You are all dossers in my eyes.

    LadyGaGa: "because law is one of the hardest degrees to study."

    Try Medicine. Try Arabic. English Law is one of the easiest subjects I have ever studied.

    Our company lawyer trod the GDL route. He bombed a couple of subjects. He still earns, like me, a tax-free six figure salary. So how about more studying and less flaming?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "while being bombed"

    Drunk?

    He's right though, law isn't difficult really. That's why a law degree is the most popular degree chosen by undergrads.

    People think lawyers are all dead intelligent and loaded but they're actually like actors, a few very successful and earning millions and the vast majority just glorified clerks scrabbling around for a living.

    Getting a GDL is still harder than an LLB though, not the content per se but the effort required.

    The LLB really is a doss, maybe all takers should have to work hundred-hour weeks and be shot at.

    Then they'd know what the GDL feels like :)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What difference does it make? What matters is that it gives everyone an opportunity to choose their best mode of study.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To be quite honest, all those who are claiming that the GDL is not as good as an LLB need to get over themselves. Why would law firms hire GDL students if they were not as qualified? Get real and stop all this rubbish.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Quite a lively debate. I am a GDLer. I got a very good undergraduate degree from a very good University and a good Masters from an even better University. In addition, I am lucky enough to have a TC in the Magic Circle.

    I am going to side with the LLB students here.

    As somebody who has lived on the continent, I can confirm that when I was first approached by a recruiter who told me about the conversion course, I thought it was the most preposterous thing I had ever heard about. Law in 9 months seemed ridiculous and not only that, it also seemed to make a mockery of what, in my view is, one of the most noblest professions.

    Nevertheless, as I was truly interested in studying law, I decided to apply and later accept the offer to do the GDL. Now, having completed the GDL, I also think that the course is borderline ridiculous. In fact, I think in many ways it is misleading the call it a law course as you do not really "study law". What you are asked to do is memorize the law and apply it by following a pre-defined, ready to use structure. Now as everybody who has studied the GDL here will confirm, all you have to do is memorise and use the structure they give you. No independent thought is necessary. In fact, if you dare to change the order of the structure you will be punished with very low marks and remarks reading: "structure!!".

    Consequently, as somebody has already said, the GDL is about quantity not quality. There is nothing in there that is conceptually difficult to grasp and even if you do not get something it does not really matter, just learn what you do in such a situation and memorize it and you will be fine. As a lecturer said to us once about a potentially tricky bit in a specific area: "We are not going to be subtle about it in the exam - if it comes up, it will be obvious and this is what you have to do"

    Now, and call me an academic snob, but as somebody who is used to a very high academic standard, I was very disappointed with the whole experience of "spoon feeding" me what I need to know to pass an exam.

    There is so much more to law than just learning 5 torts and knowing how to recognize them. I can totally understand that LLB students are annoyed by GDL'ers who claim their degree is equivalent because it simply is not. Just because it qualifies you to do the same thing afterwards it does not mean that it is of the same standard or quality (sadly as this is how it should be).

    And the whole argument that you get an LLB as a GDLer after you do the LPC is absolutely pointless. These LLB degrees are not worth the paper they are printed on. First of all they are not recognized by the SRA nor can you apply with them to any serious University.

    I actually doubled checked this with a law professor at my old University (LSE) whom I have a good relationship to and my question was: "if I get a distinction in my GDL and my LPC and consequently in the CoL awarded LLB, could I apply with this to do an LLM?" and his answer was: "even with my recommendation letter - no chance - if I were you I would not mention these "qualifications" and just apply on your first degree and masters. Even though both are non law degrees, you would have a better chance of getting in with them"

    I think that says it all

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • GDLers, absolute degenerates whom cannot make decisions in your life.
    please quit your life as quietly as possible, i will supply a noose were it is necessary.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The GDL is shorter because it's assumed the students studying it have already mastered basic essay and research skills during their first degree. They don't need another year and a half of being taught the same.

    I agree it's not the equivalent (in terms of modules studied) of an LLB. It isn't meant to be. However, both are meant to give a good grounding in the principles of law and arguing your point (with evidence) if need be.

    As for it's worth - depends if you shine in other areas of your CV (i.e. volunteering at a local aw centre, shadowing, mini pupillage etc...).

    A 2:2 first degree with a competent GDL isn't going to get you far in London. A 2.1 first degree with a distinction/commendation with some experience is likely to twig someone's interest.

    Thank you - good night - much love.

    P.S @ Lord Denning (GDLers this is a Law Lord!) = save the noose for degenerates like yourself.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You cannot take an art degree, complete a year at medical school and suddenly become a doctor. It is about time the GDL is abolished, it would solve the problem of all the appalling lawyers out there and bring the over subscription of legal graduates down. By the same token I cannot take a one year conversion course from my no mark LL.B and come out with a degree in politics, art or any other subject, this notion is ridiculous!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am a GDLer. I agree the GDL is not the full equivalent of an 3 year LLB (in terms of modules studied). That in itself is evident if you take account of around 18 modules normally studied in an LLB and seven core modules studied under the GDL.

    The GDL does not need to be a copy. The workload and rate of learning is much greater over the shorter period of a GDL based on the premise that 'GDLers' have already mastered (amongst others) basic essay writing and critical thinking skills. The same being necessary to graduate with least a second class honours first degree which is the prerequisite of the GDL.

    Presumably, the Bar Standards Council and Solicitors Regulation Authority are in agreement that it does not need to be a copy of the LLB as they regulate it.

    In so far as it being recognised by Employers - I would submit ;
    1) If you get a distinction, have some experience applying your learning , and have engaged actively in the Law (i.e by undertaking mini-pupillages, shadowing, work experience, mooting) - employers will consider you to have the relevant knowledge of a law graduate.
    2) If you scrape through with a pass, can barely recall legal arguments and you've done little to show any interest in Law - other than comparing salaries - you might want to consider saving your potential clients/employers from yourself.

    Good night, much love...

    PS: @Lord Denning (GDLers this is a Law Lord!) - Your comment is offensive.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "You cannot take an art degree, complete a year at medical school and suddenly become a doctor"

    What a ridiculous analogy! Medicine and law are entirely different careers, with the former requiring a considerably more study and training.

    In fact, everything this commenter says is ridiculous. The GDL is not the same as an LLB, and no sensible person thinks it is (despite CoL and BPP's best efforts). Certainly no employer does.

    What employers do think, however, is that a candidate with a GDL is generally no better and no worse than a candidate with an LLB. And what employers think is all that matters here: they are the reason we study for LLBs or GDLs.

    If candidates with the GDL were so terrible, employers would steer clear of them. The fact that they don't tells you everything you need to know.

    Some LLB students have some mighty big chips on their shoulders.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "What a ridiculous analogy! Medicine and law are entirely different careers, with the former requiring a considerably more study and training".

    Yes and by the same token, what ever sub-par degree you have is completely different to a career in law.

    In fact, it is ridiculous to think that these sub-par degrees teach students about essay writing and critical thinking skills up to the same standard of the most challenging degree available. The fact that just 6% of LL.B graduates come out with a first (the lowest percentage of any degree programme) proves this.

    It is also ridiculous for any GDL graduate to argue that they have shown dedication to a career in law. The biggest question is why on Earth would anyone who genuinely wanted to become a Lawyer take a subject other than law?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The previous poster has failed to address my main point, namely that employers don't regard GDL candidates as "sub-par" to LLB candidates, despite their "sub-par degrees". Perhaps they do not have access to the same compelling evidence you have that no other degree besides an LLB provides candidates with satisfactory critical thinking and essay-writing skills (the latter being especially useful to a career in law, of course).

    As part of the recruitment process for my training contract I had to take two written tests. These tests required me to apply law to complex scenarios in a concise and well-organised manner. I took the exact same tests as candidates with LLBs. Miraculously, and despite my "sub-par" skills, I did well enough in them to receive an offer.

    But why would I, or any other GDL graduate, not do an LLB in the first place? Well, personally, I didn't know what career I wanted to pursue at the age of 17 when I applied to university. Not everyone does. Fortunately for me, wanting to become a solicitor since the age of 3 does not actually make someone a better solicitor.

    Others perhaps have your view that LLBs are extra hard, so decided to do a "sub-par degree" to get that easy-peasy 1st, and then convert via the GDL, realising that it probably won't affect their chances in the training contract market. Seems quite sensible, actually.

    And yes, some people on the GDL are doing it because they can't think of anything else to do, not because of some deep desire to practise law. However, judging from the number of people I knew who started an LLB because their parents pressured them into it, the GDL isn't unique in having students who are there for the wrong reasons.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page |

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (58)