Richard Ridyard and Daniel Reilly, LLB students

In defence of the LLB

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  • A well written article that shows what the GDL really is, inferior! We LLB graduates already knew that though.

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  • Here are the links to the two articles we cited.

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  • Having read both articles i have to agree with a previous comment made.

    a doctor cannot study basket weaving and then convert in a year to becoming a doctor.

    this should be the same in the legal profession.

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  • No article containing the quote below can be taken seriously:

    "We believe the higher entry requirements indicate that an LL.B requires higher levels of intellect."

    So I suppose the fact that a BEng in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester only requires ABB means that it's a doddle compared to the LLB? Or maybe the entry requirements better reflect the level of competition for places . . . .?

    I should also point out that GDL grads usually already have a degree, not always in "basket weaving". Mine even required AAA!

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  • Entry requirements for courses are all about supply and demand, not about the difficutly of the course.

    A number of years, I taught a non-law subject at a Russell Group university. My department was making a decision to raise the entry requirement from AAB to AAA. I asked whether people thought the students we were seeting with AAB were not up to the course. The reply was that there was no problem with the students, but we had too many applicants, so it would be easier to just raise the entry requirements.

    There are far more applicants for the LLB than places, so it stands to reason that the entry requirements are correspondingly high. There are plenty of places on the GDL for anyone who will pay, so it stands to reason the entry requirements are relatively low. But neither of these facts has any bearing on the ease or difficulty of the course.

    Laying my cards on the table, I am a mature student who studied the GDL part time while working full time. I could have done a senior status part-time LLB, but I didn't see the point when I could study the GDL and get to the same point faster. My course was being partially funded by my employer, so my funding was contingent on full time work. I did not have time to do a full-time course.

    Most of the other students on my part-time GDL were also working full time. Others were raising small children. Many of us had spouses and/or children to support; most had mortgages and other financial responsibilities. We could not have undertaken the course on a full-time basis with a part-time job. A part-time course was the only viable option for us, which is why we were there.

    For the record, about half my GDL classmates were lawyers fully qualified in non-common law jurisdictions. What would be the point for them of taking another LLB?

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  • I feel compelled to write having read the article from Danny and Richard above. I am surprised by the strength of feeling expressed by two aspiring lawyers and their narrowed minded opinion. Surely allowing people from as wide a spectrum of society as possible into the legal profession will bring new skills, knowledge and experience.
    Are you frightened of a little healthy competition?
    I was particularly concerned about the apparent lack of willingness to allow artisans such as me to study law.
    Yours sincerely James Riley, Member of the Worshipful Society of Basket Weavers !!!

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  • A well written article that identify s the issues that surrounded the GDL. It definitely shows that people should not be aloud to convert to law after doing a alternative degree first. As I could not do a degree in Management and then convert to a degree in medicine so why is it the same in law its not right! As a friend pointed out to me I might as well do a philosophy degree at Oxford what requires BBC then just convert to the GDL and still have a degree from one of the best university's in the world and still be able to become a lawyer by doing a GDL it just does not sound right to me that.

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  • The fact that you can't use the basic rules of grammar in an article suggests that your course may not be all you think it is.

    The ultimate question you have to answer though is why top firms take on GDL students if they are so academically substandard? Many top firms take a roughly 50/50 basis. Chambers don't but that might be generally because they don't offer funding for the GDL. In contrast almost any firm of solicitors worth it's salt offers tuition fees and a maintenance grant.

    Finally only ex-polys offer the GDL. Fine. Generally true. But which of your top universities offer the LPC or BPTC? Errr... about the same as offer the GDL. By your logic the LPC is offered by substandard institutions. As everyone in the legal profession will go to ex-poly/CoL/BPP everyone is therefore getting what 'academics perceive to be a substandard education.'

    Quite frankly this whole argument is a bit bogus. If firms felt that one particular route was much more valuable than any other you would see ratio of lawyers to non-lawyers change substantially.

    Disclaimer: 1st class honours AAAAA A-levels. Got a training contract with top firm. Chose law after university because I changed my mind about what I wanted to do. None of the firms I looked at wanted anything more than a GDL (nor would they pay for an LLB) so I've chosen that route.

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  • To get the train to London I can go many routes but still end up in the same place... Sometimes the journey is longer, sometimes I stop off for coffee with friends and other times I get stuck in delays. So long as I get there why worry.

    Surely the same principle should be applied here.

    We should not be judged on the route we take but the competence and skills we demonstrate once qualified. Keep an open mind - you never know who you will end up working with so why be so narrow minded now?

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  • Jonathan Pugh - all subjects at Oxford require AAA these days. There are also fast track medical degrees you can do as second degree that are shorter than a standard medical degree.

    The question that still needs an answer is if the GDL is so inferior then why do almost all top firms offer funding for it and take on a substantial people with GDLs. All the magic circle, silver circle and top American firms fund GDLers.

    Funding the GDL is more expensive than only taking on undergrad law students (who only need one year of course fees and maintenance grants) yet they continue to do it.

    The point about lawyers being on a more demanding course might be true but firms run their own psychometric testing or case studies. If the law prepared you much better than another undergraduate degree no students would make it through those hurdles. Law firms aren't simply looking for raw intelligence either. You can be academically brilliant but if you don't come across as professional, likeable and ambitious you won't get a place.

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  • Typical GDL graduates that have clearly overlooked the facts set out in the article and then talk hot air, making things up to suit themselves. Not one has addressed the fact that just 6.7% of law students graduate with a first, the lowest on any degree programme.

    "Many top firms take a roughly 50/50 basis." This is not the case as it states in one of the articles mentioned. Where did you get that information and which 'top firms'?

    "I changed my mind about what I wanted to do." Exactly, has clearly shown no dedication to the legal sector.

    "There are also fast track medical degrees you can do as second degree that are shorter than a standard medical degree." Yes but you do not suddenly become a doctor from a 'fast track medical degree' and you must have studied a relevant first degree to be eligible.

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  • Reading between the lines- 'I have not got a TC. It's not fair. Who can I blame?'.

    Why don't you trust law firms to do their own recruitment?

    I am sure you will both become far less committed to the cause if and when you obtain TCs!

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  • One point that should be mentioned is that a law degree is about why we apply the law as opposed to a GDL which is about how. These are two completely different entities requiring more skill for the former.

    A point that a senior lecturer stated to me was that why the old polys do this route is that they will never achieve the academic standards of the old red brick in points of research by their staff so it is a money spinner. The professional route of the LPC/BPTC is purely financial.

    Another significant factor mentioned by the senior lecturer was that during his BPTC he realised that it is all well and good knowing the law but understanding it is another matter and although the professional courses do not really allow for academic debate when it does you can clearly see who has a law degree and who has a GDL.

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  • Oh dear, my BA English from the University of Cambridge makes me less intelligent and suited to the job of lawyer than LLB students everywhere? Oops! Good job my firm thought differently.

    I do wonder if the writers of this blog just don't like the competition for TCs?

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  • I would agree that the LLB has a long history of providing future lawyers with an in-depth knowledge and sound academic approach to the law. This has been known for a long time, and I doubt that anybody would disagree that a first degree in Law is anything but an asset.

    What I cannot agree with, however, is the bad attitude that some (but certainly not all) first degree law graduates have towards those who were perhaps less certain of their future career path as a teenager.

    It is very easy to cast assertions as to the intellect of GDL students, but, as another post highlights, the main elements which will help you secure a Training Contract are personality, aptitude to perform well as a Solicitor, and a proven academic record.

    From my own point of view, as someone with a BSc and MSc, the author's attitude that the GDL is somehow inferior highlights a deeper issue of jealousy and bitterness towards your future fellow colleagues. Aside from being an impressive social faux pas in the office, it comes across as a 'chip on the shoulder' rather than a valid concern with the standard of legal education. The top firms will continue to hire the top graduates, which is a fair outcome all told. Quite frankly, breaking into the profession will not depend on your ability to discredit your colleagues qualifications.

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  • For two students who were so fortunate as not to receive a 'substandard' education in law, your use of the semi-colon seems slightly odd if not completely wrong in one or two places, and your eye-for-detail might benefit from a spell check - "surly"/"surely"? I, fortunately, was on the receiving end of a substandard legal education, so I have no need to apologise for any mistkae that appear in my quikly written; response.

    For me, the worst thing about this debate is that no one has done both. I have talked at length about, and have a great appreciation for, the hard work and dedication that is required by an LL.B in law. On the other hand, the GDL is by no means a walk in the park. Regarding the question of depth of knowledge, how much of the, admittedly interesting, in-depth legal jurisprudence can you recall right now? It appears to me that students who did the GDL are much better at recalling relevant legal principles in class on the LPC. The GDL can be tailored to provide a broad spectrum of legal knowledge that is most relevant to your first years of practice, with a depth that has never left me without argument against someone talking from behind an LL.B. The GDL also provides all the knowledge necessary for accurate legal research, and even throws in the jurisprudence where necessary, too.

    I was fortunate enough to get a 1st class honours in Politics and Philosophy, a course that I thoroughly enjoyed and was able to do because I had the option of the GDL. I always wanted to do law, but saw university as an opportunity and not as a one way road. I believe I am a more talented student, and will be a more talented lawyer, because of the mix of my studies.

    Would the two authors say that any 'low calibre student' (I hate the phrase already) would be able to get a distinction on the GDL simply because you only need a 2:2 in some places to get in? Perhaps a little deceptively, I think I'm looking for the answer: "Sorry, I have no idea, as I have never done the GDL". I'd further reflect that the GDL is notably harder in terms of exam timetable in some institutions as opposed to others. I further hope that any comments regarding course content is backed up by a thorough look at the GDL content at different institutions.

    To the point of the legal profession's demise being, in part, caused by the GDL, I would question the lateral thinking of the authors in terms of their research in this matter. Why would an academic, who makes a living off lecturing at universities and writing books to be published, be particularly receptive to a course that doesn't quite as nicely comply with his career? I'd be very interested to read their opinions on this, and I say this genuinely and not by any means as a provocation.

    Furthermore, perhaps the reason why top universities have not chosen to provide a 1 year course over a three year course, is probably because they would make less money overall, and furthermore, the LL.B, rightly, already has such distinction.

    With due respect, I could not help feeling this was a rather closed minded article.

    Let's see, in a few years time, which of the most feared partners in the City will be proud of the three letters, G, D, and L.

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  • A fantastically thought provoking article, one that I feel demands discussion and debate that extends beyond e-comments - both serious and jovial. Whilst I would rather an LLB, as opposed to a BA or BSc 'topped up' with a GDL, I do see the relevant benefits and advantages to a law firm by recruiting someone who has experiences in other fields.

    Whilst I think that one of the most important influencing factors when talking of someone’s legal ability should be experience; education should not be compromised. An LLB does require an intense study regime and fosters in its students some important morals and skills etc, something that I do not feel a GDL can match.

    I have to consider the ‘Short Course’ medicine course that students can enrol on having studied a relevant science degree. If I was to visit my Doctor and learnt that at A-level they flunked some exams, did a degree in Biology and then were able to ‘top-up’ their qualifications with a graduate degree in Medicine – I would definitely be doubtful of their abilities. I feel that this should also be applied to Law.

    I’m not saying that a GDL is necessarily a ‘bad thing’, but I do think that the ‘idea’ – on paper, is undesirable i.e. ‘Get a degree in anything, scrape through with a 2.2 and then take out a loan and get a GDL’. Ultimately, I think that matters need to be considered on a case by case basis; looking at a person’s full credentials rather than the letters following their name.

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  • There are clearly advantages to both sides of the LLB/GDL argument; having studied the LLB myself, I am inclined to think this is the preferred academic method given the time and dedication factor. However given the fact that I now teach numerous students whom are studying for their GDL's, I feel compelled to add they are bringing an entirely new dimension to the role of a lawyer having studied a different discipline prior to Law - and it is indeed very much welcomed. Furthermore, certain institutions are now offering the LLB qualification, upon passing the GDL; which has proven an attractive option to my students - this I suppose suggests the traditional route is the better?

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  • "By your logic the LPC is offered by substandard institutions."

    That is correct.

    "Chambers don't but that might be generally because they don't offer funding for the GDL."

    No. Chambers can see that the GDL is an insult to the profession and do not believe the majority of GDL graduates are good enough.

    Disclaimer: Oxford University law student AAAAAA A-levels. Have had numerous mini-pupillages with top commercial chambers.

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  • A well written article in it's entirety, and I for one, (being on the LLB) couldn't agree more with it.

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