Advice

Distance learning: desirable or a disadvantage?

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23

I live in Hong Kong, but my law school is in London

Hong Kong/London

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring solicitor questions whether studying abroad, but at a UK university, will help or hinder her training contract pursuit.

career

I am currently studying the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at BPP University in London as a distance learner in Hong Kong. I will be starting my Legal Practice Course (LPC) next year in September if things go well. I want to get a training contract in the UK, but I am worried. I am wondering whether my Asian background and having done distance learning will put me at a disadvantage.

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23 Comments

Anonymous

The only disadvantage I can see is not being able to attend networking events/opens days

(7)(0)

Anonymous

I do not see this as a problem, especially for the GDL, the main thing is get good grades, as with any course. Thinking further into the future and job prospects, I would find activities that highlight the advantage that someone with experience and knowledge of a different culture and legal system (albeit derived from the English system) can bring to the table.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Target and focus your applications to the firms that will happily take on international/Chinese applicants. Look at their current trainees/associates and see what their background is. Do they have a Asian office? Use your bilingual skills and Asian commercial awareness to your advantage.
Focus on who you’re applying to and with good grades and experience you’ll get a TC even being away from London (also make sure you know whether they can sponsor you with your Visa)

(9)(0)

Advice Advise

This.

(0)(0)

Why isn't LC publishing my comments?

Mention the foreign language skills but don’t dwell too much on them because you will probably never use them on your TC.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Great reply – which firms would you suggest would be more inclined to take international candidates ??

(0)(0)

Anonymous

(From my research) White & Case, Latham & Watkins, NRF, Linklaters and Dentons

(2)(0)

Anonymous

They’ll probably like this. I always think firms prefer someone with a quirky background (e.g. a first from Birmingham at UEA and a Masters from Maastricht), than a bog standard RG law graduate.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

A big disadvantage is that you are not currently on a tier 4 visa where you are not studying in the UK.

Recruiting international students who are not transferring from a tier 4 visa to a tier 2 is much more difficult and costly where you have to complete a resident labour market test and pay the skills charge, the latter of which looks to double under the Tory manifesto. Recruiter’s don’t have to do this for candidates transferring from a Tier 4 visa.

It is not impossible, but you are limited to a small number of “top” (as LC would say) commercial firms who have the ability to sponsor you. The complication is that some of those firms would struggle to prove the resident labour market test given the number of applications they receive.

Firms that tend to have specific language/jurisdiction recruitment programmes, where the trainees split their time in the UK and elsewhere (usually seen with Asia or the UAE), might be a good option as they will have far fewer eligible domestic applicants.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

There is a major disadvantage. You are not currently on a Tier 4 visa.

The work permit process is much more complicated and costly for employers when the candidate is not being switched from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2. They have to complete a resident labour market test and pay an additional skills charge fee of £1,000 per year of your visa, the latter of which is due to double under the Tory manifesto.

Even if you are studying your LPC in the UK and then you are on a Tier 4 visa, there is most likely going to be a gap in completing the LPC course and starting a TC where most firms who can sponsor you are currently recruiting for 2019/2020. So the same problems of not transferring from a Tier 4 visa will still happen.

It’s not impossible though. Some firms who have got the ability to sponsor a work permit will be willing to go through this additional process. However many who could will struggle to prove the RLMT due to the strength and quality of their applications received.

You might want to try and find firms who have specific language/jurisdiction training programmes (typically seen with Asia or UAE). As there are far fewer eligible domestic applicants, the extended visa process and costs are expected.

(1)(0)

Alan P

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t think firms care much where/how you do the GDL or the LPC. Your undergraduate degree is far more important. If you have a good grade from Hong Kong University then I think you will probably be fine. Loads of people in my intake are from Hong Kong or Singapore and did not study in the UK until the LPC.

I would start applying for UK TCs now though.

(0)(0)

Why isn't LC publishing my comments?

I don’t think firms care much where/how you do the GDL or the LPC. Your undergraduate degree is far more important. If you have a good grade from Hong Kong University then I think you will probably be fine. Loads of people in my intake are from Hong Kong or Singapore and did not study in the UK until the LPC.

I would start applying for UK TCs now though.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

with brexit looming things are gonna get so much tougher with international visas

(2)(0)

Anonymous

will probably actually get a little easier for non-EU students in some cases, as standards of entry will naturally drop. Doing a RLMT against a much smaller talent pool means it is likely to be easier to get approved. The bigger impact will be the next government and their policies on visas.

(1)(0)

TCs for Brits

What a joke. Chinese and International students should not be hired into the London offices.

(7)(14)

Anonymous

What if they are the best candidates? Whatever happened to hiring by merit?

(3)(3)

Anonymous

You are a bitter loser who is not good enough to get a TC and so you blame everything on immigration. It is pathetic.

You will never get a TC if you keep blaming all your problems on everyone else. You need to improve yourself to the point that you are competitive enough to handle competition from international candidates. The onus is on you.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

there aint enough quality brits

especially people like you that blame “foreigners” rather than focus on being competitive

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Your international background should support your applications – especially if you speak Mandarin/ Cantonese or another Asian language and are prepared to move and work internationally for the firm.

Having said that, there are a sizeable number of dual-/ multi-lingual HK or Singaporean students who studied law in the first place and who could say that they have demonstrated more commitment to study/ working in the UK by actually studying in the UK (assuming you didn’t do your undergrad in the UK either) so you might have to go out of your way to say why you want to work in the UK when it comes to applying for firms.

(3)(0)

Cheeky

Your problem is bpp not your ethnicity

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Rubbish.

(0)(1)

cheeky

bpp is rubbish you mean

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.