Richard Ridyard and Daniel Reilly, LLB students

In defence of the LLB

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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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