The GDL: Too Much Whine, Not Enough Time

By Kitty Law on

Wannabe lawyers need to be more Margaret Thatcher and less Nick Clegg if they are to bag a training contract, says GDL student Kitty Law

If I hear any more whining I will not be responsible for my actions. The whining to which I refer emanates from more Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) students than I could possibly mention by name here. And it has its origins in an absolute certainty that they will never, ever secure a training contract because the world is such an awful place. Why for heaven’s sake bother starting the GDL in the first place with an attitude like that?

Like the whiners, I have no training contract. However, I am doing my damndest to obtain one. This isn’t to say that I have an expectation of securing a position at a law firm like some of the people whose articles have appeared on this site. I know I have no divine right to a ‘TC’, rest assured Legal Cheek readers, but I am also confident in my ability to secure one…

Of course it can be hard at times. The GDL is an extremely busy course – the equivalent, if you will, of eating a week’s worth of meals during a single lunch sitting. Under these conditions, finding the time to make training contract applications can be difficult. They say Margaret Thatcher managed on four hours a night when she was in office, and a GDL student committed to finding a training contract needs to possess a similar work ethic. Unfortunately, too often the attitude among law students reminds me rather more of another politician: Nick Clegg.

Two friends of mine have recently been successful in securing training contracts, making a mockery of the pessimism shown by the GDL whiners. Neither had ‘contacts’ through mummy or daddy; they succeeded by simple hard work. In their defeatism, I believe many forget that there are still many jobs out there. Law firms may be employing fewer trainees than before, but this year thousands of students begun training contracts, and thousands will do the same next year.

Many of the whiners are not helped by their insistence that they must complete the GDL and LPC in one go – with or without a training contract to go to at the end of their education. I certainly won’t be beginning the LPC this year, or for that matter any year when I don’t have a training contract awaiting me. In the meantime, I will work to pay off the debt I owe my parents and the bank for my GDL fees. If that means being a paralegal at a City firm (plan A), I will be delighted. But I would also be happy with my plan B of working wherever I can find a job. I am convinced that a student can gain as much commercial expertise in Starbucks as they can in Slaughter and May.

And rest assured that if I do find myself in Starbucks’ green uniform, I won’t mope – or whine. Come to think of it, maybe a big company like Starbucks has a legal team offering training contracts…

Kitty Law is a GDL student