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The GDL is for ‘spineless’ losers, says Bristol Uni law student

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Graduate Diploma in Law is for those with a half-hearted interest in legal profession, claims LLBer, amid decline in popularity of conversion route

loser

A Bristol University law student has lambasted the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course as a waste of time and the refuge of those lacking in the capacity for original thought.

The first-year LLB student — whose name has been anonymised — recently launched a fiery broadside against the law conversion course — on which around 4,000 students enrol annually — which appeared on The Tab website.

According to the article, the law student’s cousin — who is set to start a GDL course later this year at an unnamed institution — triggered her thoughts. And that relation might now be wishing that she had kept her rather demoralising opinions to herself, rather than broadcasting them on a renowned student website.

The gist of the argument is that only students that are not true to their hearts will sign up for the GDL. In other words, they don’t have the gumption and courage to stick with a first-degree subject they enjoy and pursue a career in that field.

In the law student’s world, there are only two reasons students opt for the GDL — and neither of them is commendable.

Reason one: you’re putting off going into the big, bad world and forgot that a masters would probably be more enjoyable.

The second reason?

You made an unspoken pact with your parents you’d do it if they’d let you study a fun arts degree first.

Indeed reason two attracts significant vitriol from the writer, who is is identified only as the secretary to Bristol University’s journalism society.

If that sounds like you,” she writes, “you are completely spineless. Live your life for yourself, not your parents; you’re over 20 and should be able to make your own decisions.

Whether you agree with her not, the anti-GDL sentiment chimes with recent stats that show student interest in the course bombing since the financial crisis. According to statistics from the Central Applications Board, the body administering the online applications system for the GDL in England and Wales, there were 5,980 applications made to do a law conversion course in 2008-09, but by last year that figure had plunged to just 3,690.

GDL-apps

Most of the law student’s short diatribe is not in fact directed at the GDL itself, but at the force behind its decline in popularity: the narrowing prospects of comfortable employment in the modern legal profession.

She rehashes figures highlighting the disparity between the number of law degree and GDL graduates, Legal Practice Course students and law firm training contracts and bar pupillages.

The law student is a little bit wobbly on the distinction between being admitted to the roll of solicitors and actually being able to practise. And she also cites an average starting salary for law graduates of less than £20,000, without pointing out that trainees in the City earn more than double that wage.

But, hey, she’s a first-year student, so perhaps she’ll be cut some slack on the detail of her argument.

The main point ultimately is this message to anyone considering the GDL:

Do yourself a favour and find something more original to do. The world’s got enough lawyers already.

104 Comments

Cantab law grad

The GDL students have the last laugh – do a History degree, get a first, do the GDL, get a pupillage.

(127)(9)

Anonymous

Well said. And the proliferation of law students means that it is jolly hard to do so well in compared with other subjects.

(11)(7)

Anonymous

Yep. And frankly most pupillage committees prefer a person with a first in Greats and the GDL to a person with a first in law from Bristol – even though Classics at Oxford is easier to get into than law at Bristol (in terms of applicants to place), and a lower proportion of law students get firsts. I say this as a GDL-er with pupillage.

(26)(8)

Pantman

I must be thick, or it’s just the time of day or something – what is “a first in Greats”!?

Whatever it is, it seems that chambers actually prefer law graduates to those with GDLs:

http://www.indx.co.uk/pupilbase/?mode=stats&rtype=bptcgdl#bptcgdl-gdl

(13)(7)

Anonymous

exactly

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Greats = Classics.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Should have gone to Oxford….

(6)(1)

Anonymous

No, your statistic shows that there are slightly more juniors with law degrees than with the GDL. But that would only show that chambers prefer applicants with law degrees if we knew that law and non-law people applied in equal proportion. If you look at the tenants 10 years’ call and below for the top 25 chambers, there are a hell of a lot more Oxbridge Classics people than Bristol/UCL/KCL law people. Maybe that’s because there are more Oxbridge people applying – but I doubt that some bias does not also come into play.

(6)(1)

MC trainee

Everyone knows that getting a first in law is many times harder than to get a first in history or English. So it does make sense, as, as far as I know, law firms don’t discriminate too much between traditional degree subjects, to get that high 2:1 or first in English then go on to apply for TCs.

It’s a shame, because a law degree can be a really interesting pursuit. Outside options such as PIL, commercial law and company law, IT law, etc can be really useful as well as interesting.

However, due to the difficulty of getting a TC nowadays, it makes sense to go for a degree where it is easier to get higher module grades. The biggest downside is the cost of doing the GDL if you don’t secure a TC during uni.

(15)(15)

Anonymous

well said as a Law lecturer you are quite right you will have a fair higher chance of a first/ high 2:1 in a soft subject rather than law of my cohort this year we awarded on three Firsts and those students were outstanding…

(8)(14)

Anonymous

*Far iphone…

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Law is a soft subject

(29)(24)

Anonymous

No, MC trainee, everyone doesn’t know that. Because it’s complete and utter bollocks. As is the rest of your ‘analysis’ of the benefits of studying something other than law.

The reason that firms don’t much care if you have an LLB or a GDL is because a good degree in a core subject from a good university is some assurance of an intelligent and educated person, the sort that a law firm wants to train in law and procedure that they won’t have been taught at any previous academic level. Humanities graduates are probably a lot safer to put in front of clients early on as well: they might actually have some social skills and self-awareness already.

For what it’s worth I entered the law via an LLB.

(14)(2)

MC Trainee

I’m not sure what you appear to be angry about. It is a fact that far fewer firsts in law are given out than in other subjects. This is true at Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, UCL and Durham.

Compare maths and law at Cam – Between 2000 and 2014 an average of 17 per cent of law students scored a first, compared with an average of 32 per cent of mathematics students.

Economics – 29% get firsts.

History – 31% get firsts.

English – 29%.

Law…? 17-18%I’m not sure what you appear to be angry about. It is a fact that far fewer firsts in law are given out than in other subjects. This is true at Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, UCL and Durham.

Compare maths and law at Cam – Between 2000 and 2014 an average of 17 per cent of law students scored a first, compared with an average of 32 per cent of mathematics students.

Economics – 29% get firsts at Cam.
History – 31% get firsts.
English – 28%.

Clearly a much lower percentage of law students get firsts and unless you assume that the average law student is less intelligent that the average history, English or economics student, the stats at all unis show that it is harder to get a first in law than to get a first in other subjects.

I don’t see what is so objectionable about the other things I said either. Those subjects have been useful to me as a trainee, to varying degrees. That’s my opinion, but one that has developed through practice.

(1)(3)

MC Trainee

I’m not sure what you appear to be angry about. It is a fact that far fewer firsts in law are given out than in other subjects. This is true at Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, UCL and Durham.

Compare maths and law at Cam – Between 2000 and 2014 an average of 17 per cent of law students scored a first, compared with an average of 32 per cent of mathematics students.

Economics – 29% get firsts.

History – 31% get firsts.

English – 29%.

Law…? 17-18%I’m not sure what you appear to be angry about. It is a fact that far fewer firsts in law are given out than in other subjects. This is true at Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, UCL and Durham.

Compare maths and law at Cam – Between 2000 and 2014 an average of 17 per cent of law students scored a first, compared with an average of 32 per cent of mathematics students.

Economics – 29% get firsts.

History – 31% get firsts.

English – 28%.

Clearly a much lower percentage of law students get first and unless you assume that the average law student is less intelligent that the average history, English or economics student, the stats at all unis show that it is harder to get a first in law than to get a first in other subjects.

I don’t see what is so objectionable about the other things I said either. Those subjects have been useful to me as a trainee, to varying degrees. That’s my opinion, but one that has developed through practice.

(1)(5)

FOARP

Those percentages are pretty unbelievable and confirm pretty much everything I and my fellow physics/astrophysics students felt about arts/humanities students when I was in university (i.e., they have it far too damned easy). Out of the ~50 people who started my course only ~25 finished, and of those only one received a first. What on Earth is the meaning of a first if 1-in-3 receive one?

Anonymous

I have both a History degree and a Law degree. I studied at the Russell group university for both of them.

Take it from me – getting a first in my law degree was in no way more difficult than the history degree. You’re kidding yourself if you truly believe that a law degree is significantly more taxing.

I’m sorry it’s an awkward truth, but it is still nonetheless true.

(25)(4)

Anonymous

Really? I found my GDL way harder than my (Cambridge) History degree! And my GDL marks were lower than any of my degree marks (though not shockingly bad or anything). I think law is harder at least in that it involves a lot more memorisation. Obviously it also depends on what you’re naturally good at. But it is true that law seems to give out fewer firsts.

(9)(7)

Anonymous

A first year law student bored during the summer decides to attack a course that provides a similar qualification to her own in a shorter time frame? Stop the presses this is a fresh story!

Much like many other first-year students Mowll’s is puffed up by an undeserved ego after having spent a year away from home and being ‘independent’ for the first time in her life. It’s common sport amongst undergrads to pick at other degrees for whatever reason. Someone just gave her a platform to do this on a national level.

(89)(4)

Anonymous

Poor writer pens article full of bitterness and drivel. Stop the presses!

(39)(5)

Boh Dear

By quicker you mean taking four years (and the obvious extra fees) vs three years for an LLB?…

(11)(1)

Anonymous

I meant the actual year itself as opposed to a 3 year undergrad, that appears to be something so many LLBers take issue with

(4)(0)

Anonymous

What a load of rubbish. I always knew I would end up at the bar, and wish I had taken the opportunity to do something else at University whilst I had the chance. Probably would have done better too!

(21)(3)

A. Barrister

I had the same feelings, and so I did PPE followed by a GDL. This way I can chat-shit in 4 subjects. I paid top-up fees (though being from a poor background I also got some grants) and the GDL via a loan – it was worth it nevertheless.

(29)(2)

Ap

Immature and just plain wrong. A law degree won’t make you a decent solicitor (a bit of extra law might help those wanting to become barristers). Common sense will though, and she appears to be seriously lacking in that department. In a few years she will look back at that article and cringe.

(64)(2)

Dan Longman

How narrow-minded this young girl appears to be. Considering she has no real experience of her own degree yet, or dare I presume, of grown-up life, her arrogance is staggering.

(47)(4)

Tordenskjold

I might have to come back in 3 years and see how she is getting on securing a TC. With her way with words she may be at JAFLAS soon enough.

(23)(0)

Steve Williams

Perhaps we should all bow down to Ms.Mowlls obvious wealth of knowledge and experience. Or perhaps remind her that some of us have actually been out there and experienced other facets of life – like manual labour and a wider breadth of education.

(28)(0)

Shirley

I’ve got a llb and I’ve been out there. She is 100% correct. Utter pisstake.

(2)(19)

Kuzka's Mother

Wow, I really wish someone had told me this before I’d done my undergrad, GDL, LPC, training contract and now 2 years qualified. I’d never have gone down this path! Thank you for enlightening us!

(32)(1)

Anonymous

I might just quit my training contract now and go back to do the LLB before reapplying.

(33)(0)

Bemused

People always seem to say do a degree you enjoy first then do law as if the only reason people did law was for the careers and never anything else. Does no one actually consider, when they are telling these people not to do undergrad law but to to history and a GDL instead, that some people actually *like* studying law?

(23)(3)

Trufax Fairfax

I’m amazed how many people are biting – just ignore the drivel comments.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

I think the key lesson here is that it’s a really bad idea to make sweeping judgments about a matter of which you are so clearly completely ignorant.

(26)(0)

Russel Brand

It works for me.

(19)(1)

Katie Hopkins

Joke’s on you, I’ve made a career out of it.

(19)(0)

Russell Brand

I do indeedeth do jokes AND made a career out of it. Somehow.

(13)(1)

Katie Hopkins

Shall we mate?

(7)(3)

Russell Brand

I thinketh not, you saucy mare. I’m a lothario not a lunatic.

(10)(1)

A. Nonny-Mouse

LLB tears still salty?

(7)(1)

Anonymous

How does she know a law degree is “harder” than any other subject? She has barely studied the law at this point, as a 1st year LLB. When she starts applying for TCs, HR are going to have fun googling her name and finding this little gem.

(22)(0)

Anonymous

It won’t be HR but it will be the partners interviewing her who will do this.

(9)(0)

VTESI

This is why I feel SO sorry for this idiotic girl…. I mean her comments were idiotic, posting them online even more stupid, worst still she’ll pay for it in the future. But perhaps getting an online putdown will make her a better person in the future…

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Very few people take the LLB or GDL without a very clear idea of where they are going. The competition is immense and therefore it’s not something you can wing. Her article reeks of someone who feels doing a law degree is enough to give her some sort of prestige regardless of the fact she’s only a first year. A degree isn’t enough these days to secure a TC and I suggest she’s just scared of the competition.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

Further to my comment,
http://thetab.com/uk/bristol/2015/07/13/youve-decided-soul-crushing-law-conversion/

Disgraceful. First result when googling her name. Good luck in the future Ms LLB

(12)(1)

Judge Fudge

She’s the Katie Hopkins of “legal journalism”

(13)(0)

Anonymous

And reason no. 3: career-changing, mature student with family and full time job. Snap!

(19)(0)

Mr Whemmick

So a first year law student has a pop at folks who don’t choose the correct first degree….?

Despite her being a wannabe journo…!

And this wonderful article will indeed be the first thing that any prospective employer reads about the lass in the future.

I really don’t think Ms Mowll is actually that bright.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

Feel very sorry for her if she has interviews in the future with firms or chambers and the people sat opposite her studied non-law subjects. This will come back to haunt her.

(17)(1)

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