GDL Route ‘Made Me a Damn Sight More Rounded Than If I Had Read An LLB’

Avatar photo

By OccupyTheInns on

OccupyTheInns backs Lord Sumption’s recent pro-GDL comments, and draws paralells between drug shame pupil Henry Mostyn and new Spurs manager André Villas-Boas

After so much discussion recently about “accelerated” law degrees and legal apprenticeships, I was relieved to read over the weekend the ever-sensible Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption standing up for the liberal arts route into our profession.

“I think that it is best not to read law as an undergraduate,” Lord Sumption told Counsel magazine, with his comments subsequently carried by The Telegraph.

He proceeded to add: “The problem is that we have a generation of lawyers, and this applies to solicitors as well as barristers, who are coming into the profession with much less in the way of general culture than their predecessors.

Rarely have I ever read a truer word. As my regular readers will know, I took the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) route to the Bar, having previously studied a non-law degree at a leading Russell Group university. In order to preserve my anonymity, I won’t tell you which subject I studied, but I will say that it made me a damn sight more rounded an individual that if I had read an LLB.

Unfortunately, I fear that the apparent trend for ‘getting education out of the way quickly’ that we are seeing at the moment is leading chambers to discriminate against applicants who have undergone a broader education. This would account for several questions I have faced at interviews challenging the worth of gap year achievements and periods spent travelling. It is a worrying mindset.

An additional interesting point made by Lord Sumption saw the great man draw attention to the shameful insularity of many British graduates – in particular, highlighting their lack of wherewithal in the foreign language department: “It is very unfortunate, for example, that many of them cannot speak or read a single language other than their own,” he said.

Indeed, this is unfortunate. Having spent time in Asia, I am conversational in several of that continent’s languages. Furthermore, I have a good degree of fluency in both French, and more recently Portuguese following a language course I completed after two delightful recent visits to that charming country. These skills – and it is not just linguistic ability to which I refer, but wider cultural awareness that is invaluable when dealing with clients in a multicultural city like London – are held by too few. And I fear in this climate of educational utilitarianism that the situation will only get worse.

On a separate note,
may I say how disappointed I am for Henry Mostyn at not getting taken on for tenancy at 4 New Square.

Obviously 4 New has its policies, but it is a great shame to lose such a talent over something so trifling. I can only hope that Henry is snapped up by another chambers in the same way – transferring this to soccer – that Spurs have just potentially got themselves a great manager in André Villas-Boas, who many considered ‘damaged goods’ after his time at Chelsea but I suspect may confound the doubters.

OccupyTheInns graduated from the BPTC last summer, and was called to the Bar in July 2011. There’s more from OccupyTheInns here.