Law Society to students: legal career may be too risky

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  • Unless you are some sort of saddo that gets a major hard on by working mega long hours, enjoys knit picking over silly points and genuinely prefers reading Hansard reports over anything else, the Law Society should be encouraging students to look beyond the cash and go and do something more worthwhile and fun instead of pursuing a legal career. If in doubt, tell them to read Bleak House - it applies as much today (irrespective of the Woolf reforms - yawn) as it did back in Dickens's time.

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  • As someone who is a week or so away from accepting an offer to change careers and study a degree in Law at Oxford Brookes, this news is certainly concerning.

    Is this warning aimed at the lower achieving bracket of students who are lack luster in their approach and ability, or is this something all law students should be concerned with - even those with exemplary results and references?

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  • whatever

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  • Oh dear, oh dear! What frighteningly arrogant and unpleasant creatures you baby would-be lawyers seem to be. As a female Oxbridge graduate who has reached the top of another profession as difficult if not more so to get into than law, who tuned in to this item to look for advice for my son, I am genuinely surprised at the superior and unsympathetic attitudes betrayed. I suppose in some cases it must be disappointment speaking, but it is very unappealing. Can one be a genuinely successful lawyer with such a lack of empathy with the situation of others?

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  • Dear 'Anonymous | 29-Jul-2009 5:09 pm'.
    Thankfully we're not all like that, and despite many of the narrow-minded responses above, it's possible to succeed notwithstanding having an unorthodox background and be a better candidate/trainee/lawyer for it.
    For what it's worth, I don't like most other lawyers either, but I already have plenty of friends. I only read the comments sections of this site for amusement. At times, it's quite compelling.
    Best of luck to your son. With employers like these commenting here, he's going to need it.

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  • The Law Society make this far more difficult for themselves than they need to. Where a student (such as Eleanor - see article) has completed the LPC, they are then barred from qualifying as a solicitor via the 'earn as you learn' ILEX qualification route, and must complete a training contract. Those who have not completed the LPC are not so barred. My wife ran into this problem, and was left in limbo for three years before securing a training contract and (happily, for her) obviating the need for a battle on this point.

    Simply removing this rather puzzling obstacle to an alternative means of qualifying as a solicitor would give rise to many more determined, experienced solicitors qualifying by a less risky (and possibly more worthy) means and by their own pluck and courage. I wonder whether the Law Society has considered this? Is it a demarcation issue between LS and ILEX?

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  • I want to make another comment. The lawyer job losses are very sector specific. Just like here in the US, it is mostly corporate and real estate lawyers who are being laid off. And we all know that it's company stock and real estate that experience bubbles and subsequent bursts. Anyone who has studied company law knows this. Ditto real estate law.
    The Law Society should not be discouraging people from becoming lawyers per se. There's huge demand in other areas, many of which pay well, like insolvency and litigation. A bear market has little effect on the need for family, criminal, and estate planning/probate lawyers. By all means warn students that getting into the top firms is difficult and more so when those firms largely depend on high end corporate work fueled by stock and housing booms. But if you have a 2.1 from a decent uni and interest in and aptitude for legal practice, then you should get a position somewhere if you are more open minded and less short term focused.
    Seems to me that almost every UK law grad wants a TC at a big MC, City or US firm in London doing mostly corporate type work. Sure the starting salaries are much better than in the provinces, high street, niche practices etc, but give the attrition rate at large firms and their exposure to market volatility, it may be that those who started at smaller firms with more diversified practice areas will actually still be in a job, paid better, and more content than those who fled or were laid off from big firm corporate practice.
    Someone who is focused will always do well in whatever legal practice area they choose. I don't care if it's criminal law. The top criminal lawyers in England make very good money. Become an expert in whatever field you choose and you'll do very well. There are partners with 5PQE at small firms who make the same as and more than associates of the same PQE at the large firms, work better hours, and have a more diverse practice.

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  • When one cuts throught the arrogance and vitriol of CityGent's and Krusty's comments, there is some sense. Too many university graduates whether law or not are saturating the legal jobs market and its is therefore hardly surprising that in a time when MC, SC City and National firms are refusing applications en masse for future training contracts that unemployment figures and levels of personal debt are spiralling. The Law Society is in a somewhat difficult position given the inherrent institutional and cultural problems innititiated by New Labour. Whilst eduation is a right and not a privillege, university is probably not the right option for someone with lower grades. This applies more to studying law than perhaps any other discipline (medicine apart). For many graduating this year and next, firms will quickly sift through their applications and for a large proportion, the inevitable dissapointment will ensue. Its unfair. But so's life.

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  • I have average a levels from a average university and yet I am still applying for training contracts. I think people need to be very realistic. Vacation days are all very nice but actual awareness and experience of what you want to do is key in the current climate. I now have 2 years commercial insurance experience and also valuable contacts in the London insurance market. I recommend anyone who truly wants be a solicitor and didn't get their first or doesn't have the family connections, get off your ass and get creative!!!

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  • Just as I was pondering my career options post-degree, whether to apply for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or do a Masters, or pursue something else entirely, having been made to feel like I wasn't good enough and would never get anywhere by a law lecturer who shall remain anonymous (not just me I hasten to add, he told an entire lecture theatre this), I was very recently reminded that I should never give up my dream. This being a dream, a vision, a passion, call it what you will, that I've had for several years. I've always wanted to study law, to get into the profession, to make a difference. I'd never envisaged doing anything else. But then I was told I was naïve. Maybe. But I'd rather be naïve than attempting to enter the legal profession because I was being seduced by the idea of the Magic Circle, the mega salaries and the extravagant bonuses. I've never been interested in working in the elitist firms and earning a fortune. I want to work in the legal profession for truly altruistic reasons. I want to help people. I want to make a difference. And to be honest, I'm not bothered if I'm not making a killer fortune.
    The Law Society have some legitimate reasons in trying to dissuade potential students and applicants from embarking on a career in law. I know there is a recession and that lawyers across different sectors are being laid off, and that training contracts have been made even more scarce, and as a result of this, it's going to get increasingly harder to progress from a degree to a career. Fair enough, I know it's expensive. Degrees and professional qualifications are not cheap. Students need to be realistically aware of the debt involved. But what about those of us that have that dream, that vision, that passion of having a career in law? The comments on the above article certainly made for interesting reading.

    Anonymous | 28-Jul-2009 7:46 pm
    "Now it is open to anyone with £10,000 and a dream. It is a shame all round."

    Yes it is a god damn shame that those of us with a real passion for the Law are being dissuaded, discouraged and shoved out of the door with not so much as a backward glance. Who wants a generic work force? Surely passion and dreams are the keys to having an amazing career that we care about and genuinely approach with enthusiasm?

    Saying that, students are constantly being fed the idea that the route to a career is a rosy path. Degree, LPC, training contract (TC) and ta-da you've made it. Sorry, but these days it's just not that simple. To believe that this is the only route to becoming a solicitor is misleading. I for one, thought that was the only way. But then my eyes were truly opened. There are alternative routes. Having the LPC qualification under your belt does not guarantee you a training contract. However, at Law School, the idea of undergoing formal training with the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is much under-publicized. It's a much more affordable route, and you don't have to have a 2 year training contract to complete at the end of it. And you can enter it at any stage, whether that's without any professional qualifications, with a law degree, or with or without the LPC. This is definitely a route I am going to further research.

    Some of the more positive comments on the above mentioned story are more in line with my way of thinking.

    Anonymous | 28-Jul-2009 10:13 pm
    "This is all about personality. If one has an abundance of drive and ambition (and a bit of technical ability) one will get very far in this profession. The art of bullshit needs to be learned in these tough times. The Law Society needs to back off."

    Anonymous | 29-Jul-2009 10:45 am
    "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."

    Jack Vance | 30-Jul-2009 0:30 am
    "But if you have a 2.1 from a decent uni and interest in and aptitude for legal practice, then you should get a position somewhere if you are more open minded and less short term focused. Someone who is focused will always do well in whatever legal practice area they choose. I don't care if it's criminal law. The top criminal lawyers in England make very good money. Become an expert in whatever field you choose and you'll do very well."

    If you take anything from this, it should be that your dream is the one thing that nobody can take from you. Go after it, chase it, pursue it, make it real, make it happen, no matter who puts you down or the obstacles that may stand in your way.

    Anonymous | 30-Jul-2009 8:56 am
    "I recommend anyone who truly wants be a solicitor and didn't get their first or doesn't have the family connections, get off your ass and get creative!!!"

    Believe in yourself, believe in your dream and have the courage to fight for it. Stand your ground, fight your corner and say your piece. You will get there in the end if you want it enough. Your passion is worth striving for.

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