Over 23,000 new students to start law degrees in September

Biggest intake ever… yet places STILL remain available at top law schools like Leeds and Reading


A staggering 23,110 new students will descend on UK law schools this year, prompting concern about the legal profession’s ability to cope with increasing graduate demand.

The number of aspiring solicitors and barristers enrolling on law degrees has steadily increased since 2012 — interestingly the year the tuition fee hike came into effect.

UCAS stats show the number of newbie law students increased from 19,820 in 2012 to 21,400 in 2013, then up again slightly to 21,410 in 2014. In 2015, the figure was 21,910 — meaning this year’s cohort represents an increase of 1,200 (5%) on last year.

And this could well go up. Law has been one of the most searched subjects on UCAS’s clearing service and — almost a week after A-level results day — there are still places available at the likes of the University of Leeds, the University of Central Lancashire, the University of Reading and the University of Westminster.

Though a law degree offers better value for money than other courses, talk is beginning to turn to what this all means for the job market.

Fortunately, the legal profession is growing (the number of training contracts increased by 500 to 5,457 in 2014-15), but the rate of growth cannot and does not accommodate the surplus of law grads. Of course, not every law student wants to pursue a career in law, but the question remains: with so many more people to compete with, what job prospects will this stream of aspiring lawyers have once they graduate?

Tune in in three years time for the answer.



If you think the picture is bad when you consider the number of law grads v training contracts, just consider that many city firms take roughly 50% of their trainees from non law degrees.

That’s why the hard brutal truth is that you shouldn’t waste anymore time or money if you don’t have the academics.


But it’s not ‘how will the profession cope’ that’s the tricky one – they will cope as they always do, by modulating the number of pupillages and TCs available with relation to the economic situation and the demand for legal services; they’ll cope fine. It’s the students who are in for a shit ride when they find out that their degree is a guarantee of on-subject employment than they might have liked.


Did you mean less of a guarantee?

But yes, precisely. If anything the increase in law grads helps the profession. There will likely be a proportionate increase in excellent candidates for TC’s and so the firms get a better intake.


23,000 law students but only 5,500 training contracts and 500 pupilages. Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.


A 1 in 4 chance? I’d take those odds if that was the reality.

Factor in those who will drop out of the course, get a 2.2/third/fail, choose a career outside of the UK, or choose other careers, and that is looking fairly uncompetitive.

Obviously that doesn’t factor in the non-law students or international students applying for jobs in the UK, but it does show these stats are a pretty poor way of looking at things.


No. It needs more CILEX and fewer snobby solicitors and barristers.


The world needs more producers and creators, not lawyers (of any type). I say this as a solicitor.

A Real Barrister

Life lesson #1

You don’t always get what you want.

Life lesson #2

You have to work damn hard and beat off the competition to try and get what you want.

Life lesson #3

No one is really going to care or do anything to make it better if you whine about life being unfair because you didn’t get what you wanted.

Life lesson #4

You always have choices. You can settle for less stress, more free time and less money doing something else. No one is forcing you to go for commercial/chancery/tax/MC or the law at all.

Life lesson #5

Try to work out what is important to you in life before you shell out all that money.

Life lesson #6

If you do make it, and you don’t like it- try something else. I switched from civil to crime and never looked back. Less money but more interesting and better work/life balance.

And, before Stallone gets there, I hope that this was a “cool story, bruh” and it changes your life 🙂

Creepy Perv

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Cool story bruh, dis genuinely changed ma loyf.

Seriously dough: this is some solid-gold common sense advice, more of this on LC please.


Excellent advice, they can’t all be commerical or tax lawyers, what a snooze-fest anyway.


Aren’t we forgetting the amount of law students that ‘UK Plc’ train from foreign and commonwealth countries? This is good for the UK legal profession as it indicates a liklihood that the UK still pulls some punches in the global legal market.

Chubbie McBantz

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Katie’s obsession with law student articles continues. It is getting rather repetitive….

She seems to forget the vast majority of law students won’t pursue a career in the legal sector, nor the fact that non-law students can pursue the career too.

But clearly it doesn’t matter as Katie likes to put law students on special pedestal.

I am guessing the next one will be which Strictly Dancing “celebs” have obtained a law degree.


“She seems to forget the vast majority of law students won’t pursue a career in the legal sector”

Any stats for that? I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just curious. Also depends on how you define pursue I guess. People that tried and failed to gain pupilage arguably pursued a career and still formed part of the competition.


Yes, I guess it does depend on the definition – I guess people who do a vac scheme and hate it could be seemed to have pursued a legal career.

But given there are 1000s of other career options, and significant numbers of law grads in other professions, I think it is naïve to think that people do a law degree purely because of a dream of becoming a solicitor or barrister. A significant proportion will but many will choose it for a variety of other reasons.


Still no stats?

“Vast majority” sounding more and more like bullshit.


I’m certain you failed to gain pupillage, owing to the fact that you can’t spell it correctly.


It’s not a personal obsession. It’s done because students share these types of articles on social media, which means clicks, which means ad revenue. It’s the buzzfeed model of e-journalism.

Not Amused

It seems to me to be very difficult to justify these numbers. I am particularly concerned to see disreputable institutions (or institutions whose standards and teaching is exceedingly poor) suddenly opening up undergraduate law courses.

I want national standards for degree classification. I think that would expose a very serious issue. If I can’t have that then can we at least force every university to publish their employment stats? (although I am conscious these will be ‘massaged’).


Only about 2500 of those students are at universities worth doing a law degree at.

Also Leeds and Reading are top law schools now? Pahahahahahaha


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Lord Harley of Counsel

What a waste of time and money.

Just do what I did and either invent your qualifications or apply for waiver after waiver.

I always beat the SRA.

Jason Thomas

This happened to US attorneys. It peaked in 2008ish. After that, there was a big crash in the law school market. Now there are so many attorneys and no jobs for them. This should be very concerning to everyone reading this.


That’s not the same. Freshly minted law school grads in the U.S. call themselves attorneys which leads to a glut of lawyers when law school intake numbers are high.

Over here, we wouldn’t get such a glut from law school due to the ‘cap’ on numbers due to the TC/pupillage system.

We would have a problem only if already qualified lawyers were forced out of work, as in 2008-.


There are also about 40-45% of law students how choose not to pursue career as a solicitor or barrister, that tends to bring the numbers down considerably.


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