Law Society to students: legal career may be too risky

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  • As a UK citizen/US lawyer who works in the US, it seems to me that the problem isn't too many law grads and not enough jobs. We have many more lawyers per capita over here than in England, and yet it is still considered a great field to qualify into. The ABA and state bar associations would never dream of publically discouraging people from going to law school. The payoff - even if you don't get one of the better jobs - is still a good 3/4x what you'd make without a law degree, and the lifetime premium is still that much more so as to easily justify law school debt. Many "jobless" law grads are still able to find contract work making anywhere from $30-50/hr depending on city. It's better and more satisfying and carries much more potential that stocking shelves at the local supermaket for $8/hr!

    The problem in the UK isn't a lack of legal work. There is a demand for legal services. However, the qualification route is too staggered. Here in the US law school is just 3 years and once in it is pretty much guaranteed that you will qualify as a lawyer, since provided you graduate you can take the bar exam, and if you pass the bar exam you are immediately admitted/called and get a license/practising certificate which has no restrictions whatsoever.

    In contrast, it takes 6 (more like 9) years to qualify in the UK and various people have to make decisions about you along the way. First, you need to get into a good law degree program. Second, you then have to get accepted on the LPC. Third, a firm then has to offer you a training contract. Fourth, they must then offer you an NQ position. Fifth, you need to last in that job at least 3 years before all restrictions are removed from your practising certificate. It is only at 3 PQE that you are really a full fledged lawyer in your own right.

    Malpractice insurance is almost 5-10x what it is in the US. Practising certificate fees are about 5x. Then there is 15-7.5% VAT on services. Everything from legal training to legal practice is so over regulated.

    My insurance is $900/year, my license is $350/yr, and there's no tax on legal services. I couldn't find a great job after graduating from law school in the US. However, that didn't stop me making $100 for every will, $700 for every straightforward divorce, or $1,000 for every minor criminal case I took on. Even without good job offers I was able to pull down about $70,000 after income taxes and minimal overhead.

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  • Correct Anonymous, plan is to abolish the TC and fill firms with halfwit graduates/LPC passers who haven't got a clue, pushing professional indemnity policy premiums through the roof...

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  • Jack Vance@8:15, says it all. The best post so far.
    And for those of you who think that Law studies should be for the elite, you are utterly wrong. As an academic discipline - yes. As a vocation, read Richard Susskind and learn some humility.

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  • The job market as a whole is suffering. If law is your passion, if it is truly what you want to do with your life, then nothing can stand in your way.

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  • Isn't this just a shrewd move by the Law Society (on behalf of we lawyers) to ensure that we keep supply of lawyers sufficiently low and demand sufficiently high in order to return to the pay-hikes we saw during the period from 2005 to 2008? Hear Hear! ;)

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  • How about we launch an online petition to the government to abolish once and for all the utterly useless SRA and put an end to its complete mismanagement of everything it seems to touch.

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  • Here's a better idea for a petition - abolish the GDL for anyone under the age of thirty. That way, if you want to be a lawyer you'll have to be prepared to work for it instead of converting after sleepwalking through a Basket Weaving degree.

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  • To Anonymous | 28-Jul-2009 6:45 pm, you are missing the point entirely. Yes, you may have very good A level grades, you may have done well in the GDL and have attended a good redbrick, and yes it does sound like you are a very good student. However, as harsh as this may sound, there are students who have excellent A level grades and have gone to one of the more elite universities (I am not merely speaking of Oxbridge). In this current climate in which TC are scarce there are simply better candidates and what might once have seemed like a "great candidate" now seems like an "average candidate". Not to belittle your talent or intelligence, but I would take a long hard look at why you were rejected so early from the firm you mention.

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  • Well it's about time!

    I'm sick of seeing tv dramas, movies and ads from Universities and the like encouraging young people from all walks of life to become lawyers.

    The law is not for everyone, for every background nor is it for every level of academic performance.

    The big firms don't even want law degrees - they want people with degrees in beard growing or interpretive dance from Oxford or Cambridge or people who went to at least one private school (even if that amounted to the windswept penal colony off the Norfolk coast beloved of John Mortimer's Rumpole).

    The provinces risk blindness in cooing and fondling their wretched selves over the prospects of harvesting ex city refugees (they don't want Bash Street Kids applying to join them in their Hyacincth Bucket quest to join the magic circle) and as for the small firms?

    Let's face it, the small firms don't appeal to anyone who came into the profession looking to buy at least one yacht and to bed Tara Rara Tompkinson or Paris Hilton before settling down into a stately home so they could nip next door to borrow sugar or a tin of Ronseal from Paul McCartney or his ex.

    Cluttering the profession with PC encouraged applicants with 3rd class degrees from Battersea Yoof Centre is doing no one any favours.

    The middle classes outnumber the working classes not because of some Dickensian unfairness but because middle class culture is geared towards education and graduate study while your average tower block bunch are only interested in bling, booze and securing bail!

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  • Omni Consumer Products - abolish the GDL for anyone under 30?! What rubbish. So in your world if someone got a 1st in a science degree and developed a passion for IP law they would be stopped from doing the GDL? Utter nonsense.

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