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ULaw to launch ‘MA Law’ alternative to the GDL

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Because it’s a masters, UK students will qualify for a £10,000 government loan

The University of Law (ULaw) has this morning announced it’s hoping to launch a “career enhancing” MA Law course for non-law graduates who want to become solicitors and barristers.

The course, currently subject to regulatory approval, is a nine-month “intensive” masters degree which will run at the university’s Birmingham and London Moorgate centres. It will cost £9,980 to take in the former, and £12,140 in the latter.

Interestingly, ULaw has also confirmed the course satisfies the requirements laid down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Bar Standards Board (BSB) for entrants to the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

This means aspiring lawyers with non-law undergraduate degrees, who until now had few choices but to do the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), can now punt for this course instead. But the MA Law will cost considerably more than the GDL, which is currently priced at £8,730 at ULaw’s Birmingham centre and £10,890 in London Moorgate.

There’s at least one good reason for doing it, though. Because MA Law is a postgraduate masters course, UK and EU students will, subject to the course being approved by the regulator, be eligible to borrow up to £10,000 in government money to fund it. Legal Cheek wonders whether this could sound the death knell for the GDL, which is currently not amenable to government funding.

ULaw’s vic chancellor and CEO, Professor Andrea Nollent, emphasised the commercial slant of the course, commenting:

The MA Law is an ideal qualification for those students who want to learn important business skills that lawyers are renowned for. The professional development offered by legal training will enhance students’ career progression and personal development whatever career path they choose to follow.

ULaw’s new postgraduate law course announcement comes just weeks after BPP Law School unveiled two new programmes of its own. LLM Legal Practice (Solicitors) and LLM Legal Practice (Barristers) will allow students to focus on the area of law they wish to practise. Students on BPP’s new LLMs will be able to apply for money from the Student Loans Company.

It’s both an exciting and uncertain time for legal education at the moment.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is currently considering the introduction of a brand new solicitor super-exam, which it says will make qualification cheaper. However, many are concerned the SRA’s plans are not as rigorous as more traditional routes, and may lead to a dumbing down of the country’s solicitors. The SRA is continuing to consider these concerns.

Clarification: BPP’s LLM Legal Practice (Solicitors) and LLM Legal Practice (Barristers) incorporate its LPC and BPTC respectively.

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