Law Society to students: legal career may be too risky

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  • The bottom line is having the right pieces of paper is not enough. If you show a lot of interest by getting the right experience and you having a variety of skills then you certainly have a chance.

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  • If anything is going to further reduce the number of people from non-privileged backgrounds entering the legal profession, it is a campaign telling students that pursuing a career in law may lead to financial ruin (unless your mummy and daddy are able to bail you out).
    Wonderful to see the extra £300 on the cost of the practising certificate going to such good use. Cretins.

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  • What a complete waste of money - if a student can't figure out these risks on their own then you have to question whether they will ever cut it as a solicitor. This problem needs a much more radical solution similar to the BSB's BVC aptitude test.

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  • This is interesting considering the College of Law have opened another branch in Bristol.
    LawyerNot2B - I do not agree. A lot of students are fed so much hype, PR and dreams about a lovely rosy route to being a lawyer. Someone needs to tell them the harsh reality.
    A degree is not enough anymore. The Law Society should be persuading firms to offer more placements. Work experience is so crucial. The candidate doesn't lose out - if they get taken on, great. If not, they have work experience on their CV.

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  • The statement regarding the position in Scotland is incorrect. I started the LPC equivalent (the DLP) without having secured a training contract and in the current climate there are many people doing the DLP right now who do not yet have, and possibly will not ever get, traineeships.
    But I did know about how difficult/expensive risky it would be to try and qualify as a solicitor before starting the LLB. Because I did some research on the internet...

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  • This is just a reflection of a much wider problem caused by the ludicrous government policy of attempting to force 50% of the population into higher education.
    The plain fact is that most people are just too thick to get a worthwhile degree. Giving them a Noddy degree from the University of Noddyland is simply a cruel deception, and the fact that the poor darlings think it's worth having is simply proof of how dense they are.
    Not only are these poor sods being persuaded away from useful non-graduate jobs that they would probably enjoy and that would pay them a decent income, they're being lured into £20,000 or £30,000 of debt in the false promise of a well-paid career.
    So the Law Society are doing them a favour, though as has already been pointed out if the would be lawyers can't work out for themselves that they're wasting their time they aren't bright enough to be lawyers anyway.

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  • Damned idiots. Double damned idiots for them allowing everyone and their dog to offer the CPE and LPC in the first place.

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  • What people seem to forget it that there are other alternative routes to become a lawyer which aren't so academically snobbish and which are more affordable. The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) was established in 1963 and has been chosen by 80,000 aspiring lawyers.
    For those with no previous legal qualifications, the formal training to become a Legal Executive Lawyer is comprised of two stages: 10 units of study to achieve the Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice (set at ‘A’ level standard), followed by six units of study to achieve the Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice (set at degree-level). This takes around four years part-time but the full cost of qualifying is only around £5500, compared to between £3,000 - £7,000 of CPE/GDL fees on top of the LPC/BVC fees for non-law graduates who wish to be solicitors or barristers.
    If you already hold a qualifying law degree you will be entitled to join ILEX as an Associate member and use the designatory letters “A.Inst.L.Ex” after your name. To complete your academic studies to become a lawyer, you just need to study two ILEX Level 6 practice units (one of which must have been studied as part of your law degree), and the ILEX Level 6 Client Care Skills qualification. This costs only around £1350, compared to the LPC fees of around £6,000 - £10,000 for aspiring solicitors or BVC fees of £8,000 - £11,000 for barristers.
    If you already hold the LPC or the BVC you do not have to take the ILEX qualifications, and can immediately apply to become a Graduate Member of ILEX and use the designatory letters “G.Inst.L.Ex”. Your initial ILEX application will cost you just £590 (including registration, exemption and membership charges), which will drop to around £155 annual membership fees thereafter.
    As well as the relevant academic qualifications, you also need to have a minimum of five years’ qualifying employment, including at least two consecutive years’ experience after successful completion of your ILEX Level 6 qualifications or your LPC/BVC studies. Then you can apply to be a qualified lawyer and use the designatory letters “F.Inst.L.Ex.”.
    There is no training contract or pupillage required. No further full-time study required: complete your ILEX qualifications by part-time study or distance learning and so earn and learn at the same time and so avoid further debt. Places as a trainee Legal
    Executive lawyer may well be available when formal training contracts or pupillages aren’t. Legal Executives who wish to transfer to become solicitors are usually exempt from the SRA’s 2-year training contract.
    These days you can represent your clients in court if you study to be a Legal Executive Advocate, and Legal Executive lawyers are eligible to apply for judicial appointment and to become partners in legal disciplinary firms. There are many benefits to becoming a lawyer through ILEX, and the gaps between being a solicitor, barrister or legal executive lawyer are fast diminishing.

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  • To "Will"
    It is not about discouraging those who have the skills but not the money - it's about making sure they know there are other routes (such as ILEX or part-time study) of entry.
    And it's about making everyone at a similar level aware that they should think carefully before they get into debt.
    It is easy for posters here to be cynical (I think it comes easy to lawyers!) but the truth is that many students aren't aware of all of the options out there and we should be doing everything we can to make sure that they don't sign up for debts which will cripple them later in life.
    It's also about making those who do decide to take the plunge aware that they need to be thinking as early as possible about work experience, about getting as strong academics as they can, about getting involved in anything which could make them a stronger candidate.
    I know this may be obvious, but I don't think it can be said enough.

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  • I think it is wise to warn people with average A-levels and degrees from non-respected Universities to avoid crippling themselves financially by pursuing a career as a barrister or solicitor, where there is little or no hope of making it. However, this is the job of the government, schools and careers services - not the society which is meant to protect and promote the interests of our profession.

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  • I have very good A-levels, degree from red brick Uni, really good grades from GDL and passed the LPC first time with good grades. I have no training contract. I know people on my LPC who failed modules I passed with ease who have a TC with a firm that I applied to 5 days ago and rejected by 3 days ago without even a telephone interview. How does that work? maybe companies should be making HR actual earn their money and go hunt for the best candidates instead of waiting for students to come to them.

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  • I totally agree with 'City Gent' that this is another sympton of the wholly ill advised government strategy to get more people to university. Not everyone can cut it and these "Noddy universities" that have popped up, although justified to an extent by the increase in demand, simply aren't good enough to make these graduates really competitive in the marketplace. In addition, I do think the law school's have something to do with this. As 'Will' puts it above, why are they opening up more sites offering the very courses that get aspiring lawyers in such astronomical debt? The College of Law will be opening another new site in Manchester this September as well as this new site in Bristol that 'Will' mentions. This problem existed before the recession and has merely been exacerbated by the downturn.

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  • I am a Partner in a law firm with a turnover in excess of £50million and I can honestly say that half of the people who applied to my firm this year have no chance whatsoever of obtaining a training contract. Poor grades, no work experience, no life experience BUT, crucially, they have been to (typically) to BPP or the college of law and have bought an LPC qualification that will never be of use to them in a professional capacity - reason: they cannot and will not get a training contract. Legal training is now a business. In my day you applied to law college and got in on merit. Now it is open to anyone with £10,000 and a dream. It is a shame all round. Remember, legal training is a business. They (BPP etc) will sell it to you whether or not it will be a good investment for you taking into account your personal circumstances. Maybe they should be regulated by the FSA!! Ho ho.

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  • Hmmm.... rather sounds like how black cabs in london keep their fares so dear - by stopping too many people from getting in on the racket and lowering prices because of competition. No one outside of the profession believes for a moment this is being done in the interest of people trying to become a lawyer.

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  • This is just a reflection of a much wider problem caused by the ludicrous government policy of attempting to force 50% of the population into higher education.

    The plain fact is that most people are just too thick to get a worthwhile degree. Giving them a Noddy degree from the University of Noddyland is simply a cruel deception, and the fact that the poor darlings think it's worth having is simply proof of how dense they are.

    Not only are these poor sods being persuaded away from useful non-graduate jobs that they would probably enjoy and that would pay them a decent income, they're being lured into £20,000 or £30,000 of debt in the false promise of a well-paid career.

    So the Law Society are doing them a favour, though as has already been pointed out if the would be lawyers can't work out for themselves that they're wasting their time they aren't bright enough to be lawyers anyway.

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  • Is this not the same Law Society which is in favour of abolishing the training contract to flood the market with LPC passers?

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  • Ask a candidate for the legal profession to define "justice" and distinguish between "customer" and "client" and you may be able to identify the Stephen Frys and the T.V. newsreader calibre candidates. I suspect the majority of the later will have better CVs.
    It is the T.V. newreader candidates (Natasha Kaplinsky excepted) that modern legal services will need in the years to come.

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  • I have average A-Levels, a below average degree (2:2) from a Noddy University. I secured a training contract with a National Firm and now aged 32, am a Partner in a Regional Firm.
    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.

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  • Whilst I may not like the tone of City Gent's post I have to agree with the sentiment. We have a ridiculous situation in which huge numbers of students are going to university with very poor grades. If a student cannot succeed at further education then they should not be going onto higher education, except where there are mitigating circumstances. I find it frankly insulting that students with CCC (sometimes lower) are going to universities and coming out with a 2:1, the exact same grade as someone else who has entered university with AAA. I also find it horrific that I have many friends going to do law degrees with CCC and below and thinking that they will get decent law jobs. Universities will happily take them on, knowing full well that these students have ambitions that are frankly unattainable - these universities are literally ripping off these students.

    I went to a rather poor (academically in particular) state school yet managed to receive good grades and go to a top university - university, like a career in law, should be for the academic elite regardless of background. What we need are less places, but increased support for those who come from less than conventional background (ie quality not quantity).

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  • Interesting.

    But, why not introduce a straight forward system like in the USA?

    You sit for a bar exam, and you are done. In this way, we do away with the LPC's and BVC's so as to allow all who have done law to qualify and compete thereafter, on a fair plain?

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