Richard Ridyard and Daniel Reilly, LLB students

In defence of the LLB

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  • “The remaining two years of a law degree are, strictly speaking, not significant professionally. When it comes to the essentials, a GDL covers the same ground over the same time period as a law degree.”

    Surprisingly, this quote was taken from one of the articles which the authors cited to formulate their arguments.

    I agree that we full-timers acquire a deeper understanding and appreciation of the law than our fellow GDL counterparts as is evident in the large number of modules we undertake in the course of our 3-4 years of studies. It must be stressed, however, that this factor alone, that is knowledge of the law, does not determine our admission into the legal profession. I seriously think you should consider and address the criticisms advanced above as they seem to poke large holes into your arguments in favour of the LLB.

    On a positive note, I found your article a joy to read and strongly urge you to continue contributing to the blog.

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  • Interesting, the writers of this article appear to have great confidence in their intellectual prowess. What a shame that this article is shot through with very basic logical errors - false assumptions, suppositions without evidence, circular reasoning, straw men and occasional appeals to authority. The writers need to bear in mind that the people doing GDL's have degrees and quite often, valuable work experience. If being well rounded is a requirement then I think that many GDL students beat their LLB counterparts hands down. Well that was my experience when we all got onto the LPC anyway. What a very unpleasant, arrogant article.

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  • John | 28-Oct-2010 2:09 pm
    “Reading between the lines- 'I have not got a TC. It's not fair. Who can I blame?”.

    Just to dispel comments such as these, neither of us are looking for a training contract but in fact a pupilage. Further, neither of us have applied for pupilage yet as we are both going on to study for an Mphil with both of us having strong records of mini-pupilage.

    Paul | 28-Oct-2010 2:23 pm
    “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.”

    We can assure Paul, and every other reader that our genuine concern is with the standard of legal education.

    Anonymous | 28-Oct-2010 2:40 pm
    “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.”

    We apologise for not explaining this further, we took for granted that every law student (LL.B or GDL) knew of the late, great Professor Peter Birks. Below is what he 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..."

    Anonymous | 29-Oct-2010 1:45 am
    “On a positive note, I found your article a joy to read and strongly urge you to continue contributing to the blog.”

    We thank you for your comment and we hope to do so. This is what we aimed to do, to provoke an open but respectful debate.

    Sasha | 29-Oct-2010 6:40 am
    “Interesting, the writers of this article appear to have great confidence in their intellectual prowess. What a shame that this article is shot through with very basic logical errors - false assumptions, suppositions without evidence, circular reasoning, straw men and occasional appeals to authority.”
    Please elaborate on this as we feel we have supported each assertion with sufficient evidence unlike your comment.

    “What a very unpleasant, arrogant article.”
    We thought this of Rajesh Vora’s article “In defence of the GDL”. We have provided a link to this in order to compare the two arguments.

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  • I find it slightly amusing how people are commenting and trying to sound either 'above their station' or generally rude.

    Perhaps people should be commenting about the issues at hand as opposed to general syntax, grammar and punctuation errors.

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  • "if the GDL is such an academic and challenging course, then surly the finest institutions in the country would decide to run it, adding to their prestigious reputations and attracting more high calibre students. This is not the case, pointing to one conclusion; that the most esteemed universities in the country deem this diploma inferior and unable to produce graduates of the same calibre as those from an LL.B"

    You seem to be misunderstanding the difference between academic study and vocational courses and your misunderstanding has led you to infer a completely false conclusion. The GDL is a vocational course; most redbrick/Russell Group universities do not teach vocational courses (medicine aside). My redbrick (Bristol) used to have an LPC programme but stopped it. Does Oxford University teach the LPC? Does Durham?

    Thought not.

    You also seem to overlook the fact that whilst it is possible to get onto a GDL with a 2.2 in Noddy Studies, if they will have you and you can pay, this in no way guarantees a training contract at the end. That comes down to personal attributes and a small measure of luck, things neither an LLB nor a GDL can give you.

    If you get this upset about the idea of someone with a degree and a GDL qualifying as a solicitor, I'd love to hear your thought on the ILEX route.

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  • Loving how people are getting abusive over 2 students point of view.

    LLB offers more, deal with.

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  • Yes you can get onto the GDL with a 2ii but not many people will get a training contract and be able to practice. Most magic circle, silver circle firms take people with 2i and above only in their undergraduate degree.

    In contrast a not insubstantial number of students at Oxbridge get a 2ii in their intercalated year and still go onto practice medicine.

    On the point about where firms recruit their students from . Many firms make a point that they want a nice mix from GDL and LLB. Also the fact that a first is harder in law is a point that I am sure many will take into account when making their decisions. As has been said academics alone are not enough. And just because law is on average harder doesn't mean all lawyers are smarter than their non-law counterparts. Firms can make those decisions in their interviews and their views seem to be that a fair old chunk of GDL students are academically capable of the course.

    What I don't understand about this argument is the complete generalisations. LLB Is better than GDL or 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" or complete factual innaccuracies (you can actually become a medic without a particular qualifying degree) etc.

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  • I got 3 As at A-level in rigo subjects.

    I got a First Class Honours degree at a Russell Group university.

    I got a scholarship at my Inn.

    I got a distinction at the GDL.

    I got pupillage before I started the BPTC.

    Go on, call me inferior.

    There isn't actually any defence of the LLB at all here, just an attempt to make it look good by doing down the GDL on the basis of some statistics and grade information.

    All you actually say is this:

    "We assert that an LL.B is designed around these views and aims for students to develop these skills, which are required to become a lawyer. We pose the question, how then can a degree programme unrelated to law combined with the GDL provide students with these skills at such a proficient level when a course specifically designed to do so has relatively low success rates? We suggest it cannot."

    But you don't back it up with any hard evidence. Presumably it wouldn't have been difficult for people with the rigourous research and scientific analytical skills of which you boast to go and find this evidence. You could have spoken to people on the GDL, maybe even looked at the materials provided (many of which are sold commercially or used by LLB students as revision guides). Instead you appear to have relied on a compilation of peripheral statistics and groundless assertions. The entry requirements and overall success rates do not actually tell you anything of note about the substantive merits of the course. That can only be done by comparing the content.

    The argument advanced here ignores that the GDL and LLB are not the be-all-end-all of legal training. They are a single component of a much longer course. The difference, in practice, is of two years, (probably less given that more is studied on the GDL in the space of a year). Is that seriously enough to break a legal career? Hardly.

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  • "The main question we pose to Rajesh and every other GDL graduate is if you truly wanted to become a lawyer before choosing your degree subject and there was a specific area of law you wanted to study, then why did you not choose to study an LL.B?"

    Such a dumb question. Most people don't know what they want to do aged 18 when they choose their career. Many people who choose to do study law don't know at the time whether they want to be a lawyer, instead seeing it as a good degree. Firms would be denying themselves access to a huge pool of talent if they decided to only recruit from a small subset of candidates who were fixated on being lawyers from an early ages after watching Ally McBeal.

    And in the interests of disclosure: did an LLB and went on to work in the City.

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  • I feel that this blog reflects the opinion of the majority of undergraduates studying on the LLB. I personally feel that anyone person who decides to undertake the GLD either did not do as well in their chosen degree and feel that a legal profession conversion is an adequate substitute, or is not serious about any profession especially not one concerning law where the employment opportunities are dwindling. People should take more care deciding their future because their unwillingness to make a decision and committ to it is having repercussions on the futures of others, however indirectly that may be.

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