The pointlessness of a law degree

  • Print
  • Comments (93)

Readers' comments (92)

  • As a second year LLB student at Durham, I've must say that I completely agree with the points made in the article. The most useful thing to be gained from this LLB is determination and a tolerance for caffeine.
    Contrary to what the academic staff say their courses impart about as much 'commercial awareness' or practical knowledge as page 3 of the Sun. Sure, if you love the law and could see yourself spending your life in academia, then it's clearly a fantastic option. For the rest of us who are simply looking at the LLB (and certainly the reputation it carries) as a stepping stone into a legal career it's nothing more than 3 years of late nights and significantly more stress than counterparts on other degree courses.
    If I had my choices again I would certainly have chosen to study another course and then convert - the GDL may cover a lot in a short amount of time, but at least it removes a large chunk of the theoretical rubbish that most universities certainly do not mention in their LLB brochures.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Another argument against a law degree is what happens (as it so often does) when you can't get a training contract ? you then have to spend the rest of life explaining to yourself and to others that you could not find employment in your chosen profession. Add to this the cost ofthen needing to train in another field and the irritation caused by the fact that non-law graduates secure training contracts. Better to do something interesting, do well at it and convince a firm to give you a training contract and pay for the conversion course.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "The one thing a law degree is not particularly useful for is the practice of law" - only if you discount the Bar and litigators. These two contingents are formed of a lot of lawyers.
    "There is little or nothing in a standard law degree which equips the average lawyer with the knowledge or skills of everyday legal work. Most professional lawyers have had no need to look up a law report for years. It would be odd that anyone actually paid to provide legal advice would ever read a learned journal article" - again, discounting the Bar and litigators here. These two contingents are formed of a lot of lawyers. I'd personally be dismayed if the barristers I instruct did not look at cases to shore up their opinions, and I'd be similarly dismayed if I tried to advance points to the other side without checking what the law says on the subject.
    I cannot speak too authoritatively for non-contentious lawyers, but I can't imagine that, for example, employment lawyers do not look at case law reports, legislation, etc, or that corporate lawyers do not look at clauses they've drafted and compare them to what the courts have said about the enforceability of such clauses.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Utter rubbish. Well almost. I am a commercial law partner; I read caselaw and learned articles regularly, both in order to stay on top of my game, and in order to maintain a broader understanding of the issues. And it is vital to my profession: how would I go about advising my client what their risks are if I did not know how the law treats them? And I regularly watch lawyers who do not know this lose their points in negotiation. The fundamentals for this knowledge are laid in the basic legal education.
    Now if the writer wants to suggest that there is much more to legal practice than knowing caselaw - yes there is. And if he wants to suggest that these skills are not acquired through a law degree (or even the LPC) - no they're not.
    But that doesn't make what is taught in those courses irrelevant. Just one example, based on his disparaging references to postal acceptance, consideration and intention to create legal relations: if one did not have a firm grip on the essentials of contract formation, how would one go about advising an online business on whether they have managed to incorporate their terms and conditions into their contracting. You will remember that a failure to spot this was at the basis of Hoover's promotional problems (type 'Hoover' and 'flights' into Google, and it's first prompt is to add the word 'fiasco').

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • HennyPenny makes an interesting point, I agree.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • At least a law degree will teach students the importance of the rule of law and give them a handle on constitutional issues. Perhaps these things seem irrelevant to commercial practice - but if lawyers have not been educated to protect the rule of law then who will?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm afraid I have to disagree entirely. My law degree taught me the basics of everything I needed to know in becoming a trainee solicitor - contract, tort, equity and trusts, company and commercial law.
    A law degree is not advertised as being able to transform you into the perfect lawyer, nor teach you everything you will ever need to know. Rather, it is a foundation.
    The Legal Practice Course, though dry, is much more about bringing budding lawyers up to speed with the realities of a commercial legal environment, and the training contract even more so. If the degree purported to prepare junior lawyers fully for practice, neither the LPC or the TC would be required.
    Sure, the bulk of what I have learnt so far has been through working on live matters during my TC, but I'm the first to admit that it would have been extremely confusing without already understanding the basics.
    You wouldn't expect a junior doctor to know everything from reading books, which is why they also complete placements akin to a lawyer's TC. The same goes for almost any highly skilled profession where liability or negligence are potential issues.
    I wonder whether Mr Green has confused a law degree being "worse than useless" with the generalisation that students don't pay attention at university.
    If you skip lectures and generally carry a blasé attitude, any degree is as worthless as the next. But if that is your attitude, you were never cut out for a career in law in the first place.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How could you draft the contract if you do not know the theory of law? How can you draft the contract of sale if you do not know what is it? I disagree, my experience of law education shows that the law education in UK is very practical.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Although I recall my GDL colleagues at Bar School saying "oh we didn't do that" more often than not when comparing their course to my LLB, several of them went on to the Bar and are very successful seniors now.
    The point above about "doing what you love" is right on the money whether it be your choice of degree, practice area, or indeed chosen career if not in the law.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Generally, I agree with some points in the article, however I have different view in below points:
    1. If one wants to learn how to use documentary evidence, then do a history degree,
    - Yes, but in historical topics, not in legal matters. Law students learn how to assess whether a certain document can affect the case or not.
    2. If one enjoys words then study and enjoy literature or languages,
    - I agree, but in order to use the proper legal wording/terminology, one should study law. We have been told – in law school – that they build the legal concept in our minds. Drafting a legal document requires someone who studied law for sure.
    3. If one really wants to draft complex contractual documents then learn to write computer code,
    - A lawyer will not be able to create legal relations without knowing the legal concepts of these relations, identifying parties’ intentions and the all-in-all from of a contract is an asset for any one who drafts a contract. Without law studies, no one can be able to draft proper legally formed contract.
    4. if one wants to know how to construct a compelling argument then do a degree in philosophy,
    - Sometimes this argument is based upon a precedent or legal search, which can not be done by a philosophy degree holder.

    Above comments are based upon the legal system where I practice (Middle East – Civil system)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page |

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (93)