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University of Law looks for edge over Russell Group in LLB market

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Deal with careers advice and networking provider to be pitched at second and third year students

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The University of Law has thrown down the gauntlet to Russell Group law degree competitors by launching a tailored programme of careers advice for its students as of next month.

Europe’s biggest law school today announced a joint venture with a legal profession diversity and networking organisation aimed at bagging its students highly elusive vacation scheme places and training contracts at top law firms.

Called the Springboard Programme, the scheme is aimed at ULaw students in their second and third years of law degrees.

The university has cut a deal with Aspiring Solicitors to offer a careers advice programme “delivered by legal experts including former practicing solicitors and recruitment managers, together with partners and senior associates responsible for graduate recruitment from some of the UK’s leading law firms”.

According to the university, sessions will include application and assessment advice, coaching on interview techniques, practical advice on developing “overall professionalism” and a commercial awareness session from Chris Stoakes, the former Square Mile lawyer and author of “All You Need to Know about the City”.

In addition, the joint arrangement will involve a series of networking events with professionals across the legal profession. The university said the deal will also benefit participating law firms as they will be “the first to meet emerging talent and spot bright young legal stars of tomorrow before they enter the wider market”.

Tough competition

The university’s biggest competitor, BPP Law School, runs similar commercial awareness workshops leading to certificates for participants. Peter Crisp, the school’s dean, said the institution also offered up to 40 careers-focused events at universities around the country.

However, BPP does not run those schemes in partnership and, said Crisp, it had no plans to change that policy.

Legal education commentators have maintained that the University of Law and BPP have to fight hard to compete with Russell Group counterparts in the LLB market, and that added-value gambits are one way of differentiating themselves.

One commentator pointed out that the admission criteria at both ULaw and BPP were seen as markedly lower than at the Russell Group, and that added careers advice “was possibly meant to be compensation for what some might view as less elite LLBs”.