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You Have To Go All The Way With The GDL – But An LLB Gives You Options

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When I was 16, I received my GCSE results and discovered that I had got a B in maths. I was absolutely delighted, given that I was expecting something more like an F. But it still represented a narrowing of options, with my B acting as confirmation that I was destined to do something wordy with my life. So I decided to do law (a choice vindicated by the nightmares about long division that I still have). Why not? Might get me a job (this made more sense in 2005). Perfect. I got an offer from UCL, and off I went…

b-in-maths

About half way through my first year, I started to wonder if I’d made a dreadful mistake, but I stuck at it. Happily, things changed as soon as I started actually having some choice over what modules I could study.

Nevertheless, it had become pretty clear by then that legal practice wasn’t for me; I like finding out about things for their own sake, and, as I discovered during work experience, I’m not good with form-filling. I still might change my mind, though, and it’s good to know that I can still jump straight onto the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Until last week’s Legal Cheek podcast I’d always taken the options I still have about my long term future for granted. But an observation made by our guest, Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) graduate Alex Pritchard-Jones, made me see how things could have been different if I’d come to law later. “If you’ve done something else and then the GDL,” said Alex, “and then you fail to become a lawyer…well [you can’t]. You have to go all the way if you convert.”

I agree with Alex in that I would feel a much greater pressure to become a lawyer if I’d taken the arts-degree-followed-by-GDL route. In that sense, people with LLBs have a bit of a leg up. They save themselves a year of legal education, and in doing so they’re allowed a bigger range of options. If I never become a lawyer having done a law degree, there’s no harm done. But if I were to never become a lawyer after having done the GDL and LPC/ Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), I’d be bordering on bankruptcy with a qualification that’s almost worthless…

Tom Webb is Legal Cheek’s editorial assistant and a masters journalism student at City University.