Legal education’s oversupply is unethical

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  • Re the above post whilst competition does give law firms greater choice of new solicitors, I don't think the benefit of that is greater than the financial ruin of failed students.

    The minority will get through and enjoy good earnings and that's great for them but it's not worth the price of a generation of financially and emotionally ruined law graduates.

    Yes students have some responsibility to make sensible choices but this is impossible for students to do when law firms, schools and governments are spouting propaganda about careers in law for their own vested interests.

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  • I agree with Anonymous. I have been involved in University law lecturing and you knew from day one that some of the students had a snowball's chance in hell of getting a decent degree, let alone a training contract. They are just being exploited so they can keep universities going. Places should be cut so that there aren't LLB and HND courses in any old further education college. The reality is that students attracted by "Silks" and suchlike on TV are being milked unscrupulously.

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  • Firstly, I think Beth makes a good point about the statistics, and there are also many good points made about competition – the Bar has learnt similar lessons in recent years. Secondly, the attitude shown by the author of this article reflects the harmful attitude of many who have come in to the profession in the past decade (or the boom years) almost as if on a conveyer belt destined to take them on to great things they deserve (and the salaries promised to them on rollonfriday.com). It is a good thing if the new blood in the profession has to fight for it – the whole profession is going to have to fight for survival in the coming years.

    1. Beth makes a good point about the potential inaccuracies in the use of the figures for LLB places and LPC places. The student numbers for the LLB, LPC and, let's not forget, the BVC/BPTC also include foreign students. The Bar was recently very concerned about the numbers paying to do the BCV/BPTC with even lower odds of securing pupillage and tenancy than the odds of getting a TC. Many bodies looked at limiting BVC/BPTC places or making call to the Bar dependent on having completed pupillage. Ultimately, one of the key considerations was that a great number of foreign/commonwealth students and law degree holders come to study or train in the UK for CV points before practicing in their home jurisdiction. Simply limiting LLB, LPC or BVC/BPTC numbers would be short-sighted: having masses of bright future foreign professionals train in the UK is a huge asset and valuable business or 'social network' right under our noses.

    2. Secondly, as some of the comments note, the difficult odds add to the competition for places in our professions, which generally accounts for higher standards in a global market place. Any partner in a law firm worth his or her salt will have got to that position through being alive to the fact that no client owes lawyers a practice. I fear that the author of this article slightly neglects the benefits of competition and the realities of any area of business. Might this be reflected in his bemoaning "the damage wrought by cost-conscious clients due to the recession". If we can't offer great service and excellent value for money at a time when the balance of economic activity and trade is moving East, our work will follow it and go elsewhere leaving only scraps for the UK profession. The great industry the City is sitting on will go the way of manufacturing and other former great industries if we're not competitive and cost conscious. Just as it was cheaper to manufacture abroad because labour cost less, the same will happen to many parts of the ways law firms achieve their profits (e.g. billing for trainees and 1 year PQEs to photocopy or proof). The earlier law students (with their reams of straight As or A*s) realise that the world owes us nothing, the better. For much of the 00's, far too many young men and women being churned through the likes of BPP and CoL believed they were on a conveyer belt to a glamorous city job to "do for a few years" (if they “decided” not to make partner) as if the world owed them a career. It is no bad thing for the profession to be reminded that we're owed nothing.

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  • Regarding Beth's first comment, I graduated with an LLB in 2003 and decided I would explore other options besides becoming a solicitor, having become slightly demoralised with it all. However, at every interview I was met with the question: "I see you did a law degree. Why don't you become a lawyer?" No one seemed to believe me when I said I wasn't interested in it after studying it. Becoming a lawyer seemed the only way I could get any kind of career at all.
    Journalism was something I looked into, but I was told I would need a degree in journalism rather than one in law, or a load of experience in journalism - which I couldn't get without a journalism degree.

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  • Students DO need to take responsibility. I did the GDL as a mature student a few years ago having spent a few years in a different career before deciding on law. I worked really hard to apply to firms for training contracts before I started the GDL, checked out which ones best matched the life experience (and work experience) I already had. I was very relieved to obtain a training contract with a large firm, which paid all my law school fees.
    Imagine my surprise when I started the GDL and discovered that most of my fellow students hadn't even applied for training contracts. This problem was even worse on the LPC where many students saw it as the natural next step but had made no decision really to practice law.
    There may be many students who do law at University, but how many are really serious about a career in the law? Students should consider what a career in the law means, should decide if it's what they really want and then do the studying. I can think of more life expanding ways of spending a year if doing the LPC is just a way to put off a decision about career for another year. This is only my experience, but I can't believe that it's wildly different everywhere else. Law has always been a well respected degree and many people do it for that reason, rather than having committed to be a laywer.

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  • In agreement with one author a Law degree do prepare us for more than one career. I do however have to take stock in also agreeing that TC are not easily assessible. However with everything comes share determination and if one is determined to be a qualified solicitor with the relevant training then by any means possible it will happen.

    Why are we so pessimistic in everything. Dont get me wrong I am not proclaiming that it is not hard to get a TC all I am saying do not deter people from entering the profession by the whole pessimism.

    There are training contracts out there and I know I will get one when I dedicate the time to obtain it.

    Less we not forget. Law is a business too and CoL and all the other providers are there to run as one and of course I am sure they warn people of the difficulties in obtaining a TC but it is not their responsibilities to provide one. If that was the case then we would all blame the universities for not providing jobs for us all when we complete our studies.

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  • The problem is that to many LPC providers are telling the students that they will complete the course and then simply 'walk in to a training contract' - its a disgrace and they are taking many peoples money. The system needs to be changed so that you complete a three year training contract with the first year being the LPC.

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