Scramble for legal jobs as graduates spurn banking

GDL numbers up more than 20 per cent at College of Law and BPP; law seen as safe haven in financial crisis

Scramble for legal jobs as graduates spurn bankingThe number of students enrolling on the GDL at the UK’s biggest law schools has rocketed, with graduates seeking shelter in the safe haven of the legal sector as the global financial crisis continues to rage.

BPP Law School has seen a 23 per cent jump in the number of students enrolling on its London-based law conversion course, while nationally the number has leaped by 13 per cent.

BPP dean Peter Crisp put the massive hike down to the banking sector’s recent workforce cull. He also confirmed that he had taken application enquiries from four former Lehman Brothers employees who were considering career changes.

“We’ve seen an increase in graduates converting to a career in law rather than continuing into other professions like banking,” said Crisp. “In light of the current economic climate, graduates see law as a safe haven.”

The College of Law (CoL) has also witnessed a 20 per cent increase in the number of graduates enrolling on its GDL, while student numbers on its part-time programme are up 24 per cent.

CoL chief executive Nigel Savage said: “I saw the same thing happen in the last recession, whereby graduates from other sectors such as banking and finance decided to convert to law.

“A great surge in people will mean even more competition for training contracts – especially because firms have kept their vacancy numbers virtually static over the past few years.”

Nottingham Law School, meanwhile, has seen a 10 per cent jump in its GDL intake, and Kaplan Law School – its London arm – has seen its numbers double.

Elsewhere, the Bristol Institute of Legal Practice has reported a 21 per cent hike in students enrolling on its part-time GDL.

Graduate recruitment in the legal sector is typically more ;sheltered ;from ­economic volatility than other areas – most notably investment banking.

Research by Lawyer 2B, The Lawyer’s sister title, found that law firms are not planning to slash trainee vacancies for 2011-12.

Deborah Dalgleish, head of UK trainee recruitment at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, ;said: ;“We ­confidently expect there to be a significant increase in students who decide to apply for training contracts from individuals who would previously have plumped for investment banking.

“Based on past experience, we’d expect to see this effect intensified given the severity of what’s happened this year.”