If You Can’t Go To The Best Uni In Town, Should You Find a Smaller Town?

Avatar photo

By Legal Cheek on

Following last week’s Queen Mary v Durham debate, I received this email from another student.

Would the same dilemma arise if the offer was from UCL rather than Queen Mary? Read my response below.

Respected Mr X,

Thank you for your warm praise on the Queen Mary v Durham article.

It sounds like you’ve already made your mind up: you really like QM and London, so what’s the problem?

Exeter is a decent uni, albeit one that’s tainted by the Oxbridge reject tag, but the town is hardly one of the world’s centres – and so may not be up your street.

As for what the magic circle law firms would prefer, my experience is that they’re as likely to recruit from QM as Exeter. It’s the mid-tier City firms and big regional outfits that tend to have more prejudice in favour of “traditional” unis.

Although neither you nor the student whose email I responded to last week mention it, one of the issues in the QM v regional university debate seems to be a concern that QM is inferior to the other London unis – UCL, LSE and King’s College.

Based on the Guardian’s rankings, QM outranks all but UCL for law, but as rising star barrister Adam Wagner commented last week:

“I wonder how many Chambers/law firms keep a copy of the Times [or Guardian] rankings by job application sifters’ sides. I expect most of them just apply their own prejudices.”

And the reality is that UCL and LSE, at least, have a more prestigious reputation than QM.

That isn’t to say that QM isn’t well-regarded. It is, but you’ll have to live with the fact that mention of it won’t elicit as many admiring looks as the other top London uni law schools. How important is that to you?

In a one-university town like Exeter, you’d have no such concerns.


Want some advice on legal education or training contract/pupillage applications? Email alex@legalcheek.com.

Last week, a student asked QM v Durham? Below is what she decided.