Universities flee GDL market as students stay away

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  • When prospective students see the failure rate this year on the BPTC courses, they will be even more disinclined to take on huge debts to become lawyers, and even more GDL courses will fold, as a consequence.

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  • Finally it seems that through word of mouth, students have finally heard the alarm bells that should be ringing when thinking about the GDL.

    I completed the GDL this year and the legal job market is a nightmare...too many people and just too few jobs around.

    Although the law schools will tell you it is at your discretion whether or not you attend the course it SHOULD be made clear that for many the chances of a career in law are slim.

    This should be raised BEFORE students pay excessive amounts of money (which many including myself have had to borrow) to fund a career which may, through no particular fault of our own may never happen.

    Before choosing to take the course (if you cannot fund it yourself) i recommend you seriously consider your chances of securing a TC.

    know this sounds like a rant but I want to make sure that for people in the current position of thinking about the GDL please dont take the decision lightly as it is a big and volitile investment to make.

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  • To the above comment at 15-Jul-2011 2:34 am

    You say "through no particular fault of our own may never happen." It is entirely your fault. You should have done the research before starting the GDL. It's been a waste of time for many years.

    You say "This should be raised BEFORE students pay excessive amounts of money (which many including myself have had to borrow) to fund a career." Why should it be raised? You are an adult and you should take full responsibility for your own decisions.

    You say "students have finally heard the alarm bells that should be ringing when thinking about the GDL." I'm sorry but there will always be a huge supply of students. They are encouraged by the Government, Universities and the media. No one can counter that.

    You only have to look at the United States to see how bad it will get.

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  • It is not that there are too few training contracts and too many students. There are too many BAD students that have flooded a profession where they think they can acquire easy money and kudos.

    I have just finished the LPC where I got a Distinction. I was best in year for my GDL. I borrowed all the money myself and was determined to squeeze every penny's worth from the courses - worked VERY hard for my double Distinctions. I never took a standard first degree and do not have A-levels.

    Half my GDL course were witless and useless, I wouldn't hire them to sweep a floor. Yes, wasting their (or more likely their parents') money.

    Ditto the LPC - to fail a subject (i.e under 50%) you are either a moron or you don't put in any work - yet surprisingly large number fail or get rubbish marks... then they moan about not getting a job!!? Law used to be like medicine - demanding excellence!! And so it still should be... all the moaners shouldn't be studying it in the first place, they should be doing much less demanding clerical stuff.

    I have just secured a job, paralegal in a niche Com Lit firm with a credible promise of a TC within a couple of months after a trial period...

    All this rubbish about no jobs. Yes, there may be a bad-ish jobs market but the real problem - the flooding of the market with mediocre candidates - has skewed the true picture... if you really deserve to practice law you will work hard and gain the results which will get you employed - end of.

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  • To 19-Jul-2011 8:44 am

    Plenty of great students with no jobs though.

    I know students with first class degrees and distinctions and yet no job except low paid paralegal jobs.

    Though you may think you have done well to get a paralegal job which might lead to a training contract, I would beg to differ.

    With the grades you have, taking a paralegal job is surely a sign of far too many candidates good and bad.

    Even if you do get a training contract you may still be thrown to the dogs after completion because there is an abundance of lawyers.

    Grades are largely irrelevant now it's all down to market forces

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  • Yes. Anyone thinking of studying law now needs their head looking at.

    It's just a crazy waste of money, even if you are capable of top grades. Extraordinary. First class degree and double distinction students working for 15k paralegal jobs. And no guarantee of ever becoming a Solicitor, never mind Barrister... Madness.

    If you became a teacher you'd be on 30k after a short while. Law is saturated, absolutely saturated.

    GDL and LPC staff are going to be redundant in their droves as the market adjusts.

    The message is clear - don't go into Law unless daddy can pull some strings for you.

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  • With regards to the above comment

    I agree with 90% of what you have said.

    Your last line though is slightly incorrect. Grades DO matter however who you know now seems to be the key factor!

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  • I have read all your comments and despite all this I still believe in doing a GDL this coming September.

    I mean if I don't think I will succeed or do well I wouldn't embark on this career as it is a lot of money. If you can't, don't have the skills or the ability to succeed in law then why try? There is a risk of several thousand pounds?

    Whoever embarks on a GDL should know this, especially with regards to TC and PUPILLAGE. I got advised and told how competitive it is for TC/PUPILLAGE and got advise on how to make myself more appealing to gain a TC or BPTC and this is before I begin my course. Although I had already researched the figures before and spoke to the tutors on open evening in regards to my worries about gaining a job after the LPC/BPTC.

    And to be honest Law is saturated now but in the next two years when there are less students coming out of GDL/BPTC?LPC the chances of getting a job is higher.
    Having contacts does not guarantee a job. Although it helps if you are able to network with people who can help with a TC/ PUPILLAGE and anyone on a GDL can do this.

    So if you put in the work in all areas involved... and you still don't succeed then... it must be something else. Can't blame it on the job market if others with the same qualifications got a job. There has got to be something for them to pick someone else and not you.

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  • "So if you put in the work in all areas involved... and you still don't succeed then... it must be something else."

    Yes it is, In addition to the current crop of LPC grads you are competing against a massive backlog which will persist into the foreseeable future.

    Most of the slave-labour that are paralegals working for peanuts are only doing so hoping they'll get TC's at some point in the future.

    In bad economic times, firms will play it safe, most likely recruit those with proven experience.

    Ergo any new students and grads are competing with this huge backlog of wannabe Solicitors and Barristers working as legal advisors, paralegals etc etc.

    The top firms can just recruit Oxbridge firsts and the rest scrabble around in this pit.

    New grads are likely to be competing with older grads, usually with the same (good) grades but with a year or two paralegal experience as well.

    Take that money you'll spend on the GDL and put it on the lottery, probably better odds of success there. Recently the amount of candidates chasing each TC doubled! Yes, it doubled.

    Paying to do the GDL now is sheer folly. Regardless of how good you think you are. You'd need a First class initial degree, a distinction in the GDL and a distinction in the LPC and a load of Vac scheme experience to even stand a chance of a paralegal job maybe leading to a TC.

    Just try getting all that. A GDL Distinction is hard, damned hard anyway, 2 students out of 70 on my course got Distinctions. LPC Distinctions are slightly easier to get but to get a double Distinction you’d have to be either fearfully bright or work 60 hour weeks without rest for 2 years.

    Do yourself a favour and do something else with that money.

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  • "I had already researched the figures before and spoke to the tutors on open evening in regards to my worries about gaining a job after the LPC/BPTC. "

    Yeah... like... you can REALLY trust the course providers to give unbiased realistic advice against their own best interests.

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  • I spoke to a partner of a large regional firm recently and he told me that 3 out of 4 applications they receive have 1sts.

    When firms stipulate a 2:1 now as a minimum, they mean precisely that. I think you'd be lucky now to get a TC without a 1st and/or Distinctions. And even then firms would want experience also.

    To call this a buyers market would be an understatement.

    Taking the GDL now is especially daft as it is seen as inferior to an LLB.

    To saddle yourself with that kind of debt when your earning potential for several years (or maybe indefinitely) is paralegal wages (i.e: 12-17k). Well, it's just insane.

    The problem is with the perception of law as a career put out by the providers and maintained in the popular consciousness.

    This perception is stuck in the cliches of the last century: Law is a 'Good job' it 'pays well', has 'kudos'. Lawyers are 'rich etc etc.

    Not any more. And with the advent of ABS in October the legal profession will be further downgraded as mostly middling and lower clerical work. After all, a lettings negotiator can easily earn £30k. A binman is on more than most paralegals. How long does it take an average trainee to reach that salary?

    A similar thing happened to the teaching profession in the last century. It went from having real prestige to being a dumping ground for the semi-bright white collar middle and lower middle classes.

    High-end lucrative legal work will always be the preserve of the oxbridge lot. The rest of the 'profession' will end up like teaching - only worse paid, worse hours and more stress and fewer hoildays.

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  • The above comment is false in the extreme. It sounds like the bitter ramblings of someone without a TC.

    Trust me, the vast majority of TC applicants do not have firsts. Likewise, the vast majority of TC awardees do not have firsts, even at the very best firms.

    Ultimately, you need a 2.1 and a decent application to get an interview. Then you need to be good, dare I say it, very good, at interview.

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  • What is false in the extreme is the way some LPC providers encourage applicants into such an oversubscribed profession. I often wonder if their prowl articles such as this to spread disinformation.

    I remember being told by a couple of demoralised junior lawyers at a recruitment fair that it would be better to become a plumber.

    And FYI, I am a top graded student shortly to start a TC but I'm only one of 2 in my entire year intake (100 students) to do so. A few of the rest if lucky are doing dead-end paralegal stuff (by which I mean NO prospect of a TC) and the rest have totally wasted their money and time. Many many have 2:1s etc.

    I would advise anyone thinking of studying law to do something else.

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  • My careers adviser at Uni just sent round one of his bulletins for a legal dogsbody job in Cheshire. These are far from atypical. If there are any actual paralegal jobs then that's a bonus, mostly it's sweatshop stuff. There are hundreds and hundreds of applicants chasing each TC so firms can just keep raising the bar. I think having a first and an LPC distinction is almost a requirement now

    "a part-time legal assistant to assist solicitors across Wills/Probate & Conveyancing work. You should possess a minimum 2:1 degree and have achieved a Commendation for the LPC."

    What hope getting a TC now with just a 2:1? the market is so overflowing with willing grads that employers can even stipulate 2:1s and commendations on the LPC for no hoper jobs assisting at the minimum wage.

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  • To Anonymous | 20-Jul-2011 5:47 pm

    Your English is terrible.
    Please do not do the GDL.

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  • Anonymous @ 10:11 - disagree entirely; ABS ensures that the more innovative law firm's will succeed. Even though it is no a partnership, lawyers will still likely fee-earn on a roughly similar basis (no, I don't mean by-the-hour), and will likely be subject to incentives, bonuses etc due to the need for people to replace Partners in management roles and bring in work. You haven't seen this new market mature so we can't really comment. It could just as easily go the other way.

    I would say I'm bitter about the legal market, for sure. I have a TC. My prospects of getting one were medium, I had no contacts, state-school ed., 2:1 from top 20 uni etc etc, a pretty typical candidate. I don't know how I got it but I did.

    That said, I would NOT encourage ANYBODY to enter the market as it is. I honestly do not know how I got mine, and I have seen far better candidates than myself bang there head against the TC wall. It becomes a matter of life and death and, in the meantime, you'll be sweated as a paralegal for peanuts.

    Someone on here is absolutely correct about trusting the advisors of the LPC providers. Do you really think the commission they earn rewards impartial advice on the state of the legal profession? No. Bums on seats my friend, that's what they want.

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  • It's quite simple: do not start a GDL until you have secured a training contract.

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