Will studying at the Open University limit my training contract chances?

Its status among solicitors is a worry

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one reader has some law degree decisions to make.

I am currently working for a mid-sized law firm in central London while studying for my CILEx qualification part-time. I have applied to study for the LLB in legal practice at City, University of London — it’s an online course developed with CILEx. At the moment I’m waiting to see if I have satisfied my offer, but I am also looking at studying with the Open University if I do not. Do you think studying with the Open University will put me at a disadvantage when applying for training contracts?

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

88 Comments

Anonymous

The news this morning says net migration is coming down, so your chances are improving.

Once we get it down to 50,000 and lower the country will be in a much better economic situation, so there will br plenty of jobs and training contracts.

(3)(55)
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Air Hair Lair

Whoa there! Reduce immigration equals better economy??
Less people working, paying tax, setting up home, getting a car buying their groceries, less people in the country doing that means worse economy.

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Jones Day Equity Partner

I’ve never heard of this “Open University” you speak of, but if it means what I think it does, please go there and learn all you can, then come to us for your training contract.

(29)(4)
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Anonymous

I can imagine that an OU law degree might not go down well with the more snooty city firms which recruit on a very narrow basis. I can’t say for certain because that’s not my area of practice – thank God.

But I would say that OU degrees in many subjects are very highly regarded by academics.

If you really want to do yourself a favour, study something interesting, i.e. not law, and turn your back on the profession. It’ll only end in disappointment and disillusion, wherever your degree’s from.

(I’m not an OU grad.)

(12)(4)
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Anonymous

I am doing law degree with Open University. I am also qualified medical and legal interpreter and translator. I am also mature student with other relevant experiences. Many solicitors told me that would be great asset to any firm, and I should not be caught up with law degree dilemma. Also, not everyone want to work in London for Magic Circle.

(12)(3)
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Anonymous

Pfft words are free. I’ll compliment you if it keeps you happy in your work and saves me having to discuss a 2% raise that quarter.

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Anonymous

If you’re looking at regional/mid-sized firms (Addleshaw, Eversheds, etc.) then you’re in with a shot (as long as you graduate with a half-decent grade and aren’t bad at pre-employment tests/assessment centres). It’ll be a little harder with the larger City outfits. Officially, most will claim that they won’t discriminate against graduates who aren’t from Oxbridge/Russell Group universities, but in practice, this does happen.

(19)(1)
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Big Dolla Billz Playa Playa Partner NY US NQ Law man

If its not London, its not law… If its not (good) RG and above, there’s no point. TC at a firm in Doncaster maybe.

(8)(11)
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Anonymous

*It’s. hope you don’t make those sorts of grammatical errors on your TC applications sonce you are obviously a student and in no way a solicitor.

(4)(1)
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YorkshireQC

My god, going by the standard of the comments on here you’d have to be off your not to want to work in London with a parcel of chinless goons who, despite having all the advantages of Daddy’s cash, contacts, private school and Oxbridge, are inexplicably filled with vitriol and bile.

If you get a good grade with the OU and can show you’ve had to juggle work and family whilst doing so then you’re worth 5 of the inbred snarks trying to belittle you on this comments board.

Good luck

(9)(1)
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Anonymous

So if you get good enough grades, you take up a place at uni A or B.
If you don’t get good enough grades, you take up a place at the OU.

You ask if taking the place at the OU would be a “disadvantage”. If you cannot see how getting into somewhere that demands higher grades and only going somewhere else if you fail to that, is naturally advantageous/disadvantageous to your career, then I suggest you give up all three options now, and the law and study something else more suited to your level of understanding.

(9)(12)
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Anonymous

Err they clearly are only applying to places where they can study part-time or remotely. So it pertinent for them to ask whether an OU degree would be a disadvantage relative to a degree from a traditional university which they might get into with the same grades.

I would recommend the poster also considers Birkbeck – this offers a part time law degree and instinct tells me this would be considered more academic than City or the OU.

(7)(0)
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Anonymous

UoL and UCL are offering Part-Time online Master’s programs too now, for those of us who genuinely are looking for remote study programs alongside their full time careers.

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Anonymous

But they’re not with the same grades, the poster clearly said if they don’t make the grades needed for City, then they’d consider OU.

(3)(1)
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Anonymous

People don’t go to the OU because they failed to get in anywhere else! They may do OU because they’re also working, running homes and/or businesses or simply didn’t have the luxury of being able to go to university earlier in life.

(13)(2)
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Anonymous

Did you even read the original question??

“At the moment I’m waiting to see if I have satisfied my offer, but I am also looking at studying with the Open University if I do not.”

What part of going to the OU if they fail to make the grades demanded by City, are you not getting?

(3)(2)
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Anonymous

Are you completely off your rocker ???

The poster has WRITTEN they’re only considering the OU if they do not satisfy the grade requirements of City. How on earth is reflecting this reality which they have stated translated in your ridiculous victim-obsessed mind as being snobby about “OU students in general”. I’ve made no comment whatsoever about OU students. Actually, in some areas, I think the OU is pretty good and haven’t got anything against it at all.

What the heck are you on? I’d suggest you stop seeing persecution everywhere around you and start reading what’s actually in front of you.

(1)(1)
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Anonymous

Wow, calm down, what’s the matter with you? Is this how you converse with people in real life? Go and have a nice cup of tea and try being a more likeable person. People might be more inclined to listen to you then instead of just deducing that you’re an angry little brat.

(3)(5)
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Anonymous

Ha ha, you came out all guns blazing calling the other poster snobbish and they should have some respect, and when they call you out on it and show you how off the mark your made up interpretation has been, you react with this pointless oops-I’ve been had here-I haven’t got the integrity to admit I got it wrong and apologise – I better attack in any way I can – blah blah statement like that. What an idiot.

(2)(1)
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Anonymous

Bless you sweetheart, you’re clearly having a very bad day. Hope you have a much better one tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend and God bless xx

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Tough (but true) talk

It doesn’t matter how many barristers/solicitors today did not go to an RG or did not get at least a high 2:1. If you don’t have both of these in today’s day and age, you are going to get nowhere.

(8)(5)
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Anonymous

Lol what utter bollocks. 2:1 might be true but somehow not going to a RG is going to automatically elliminate you from the race. Students from UEA, Leicester and St. Andrews have no chance according to you because they don’t have some pointless status? Just because you put the word true in your name doesn’t mean what you spew has any merrit.

(6)(0)
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Anonymous

If your goal isn’t to become a millionaire fatcat partner with severe mental health issues, an alcohol addiction, two Range Rovers, a mansion in Surrey, a trophy wife that doesn’t love you, an ethnically ambiguous mistress that has just taken out a life insurance policy on you without your knowledge, and privately-educated children you secretly hate, turn your back on the legal services sector.

(29)(3)
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James

I finished at the OU a few marks below a first. Ended up not going into law but it was a solid degree, well regarded by the people I spoke to in the profession, and the half dozen people I knew from my seminars who wanted TCs got them (no corporate London firms though.) Although they all had firsts.

(9)(0)
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Anonymous

It isn’t the Open University itself that is the issue. Vast majority of people on these online courses do not have the other academic requirements to meet basic eligibility criteria for TCs (poor results in A-level grades/previous degree). That’s what tend to hold them back more than the university name.

The other issue with online courses, especially when juggling them with a job is that you don’t have the time to build up the rest of your CV with extra curriculars and vacation schemes. Not so much of an issue for this individual if they are working in a law firm, but firms will tend to seek those who have done interesting things outside of work/study.

An online course won’t give you all the benefits of careers events, university law societies, careers service, and a peer group who help give advice/guidance/encouragement on how to get the job. People underestimate the value of that and how much it can help you in your job search.

(4)(2)
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Cat

The OU has a very good law society and have particularly good mooting teams who have won a lot of competitions over the years.

Tutorial groups meet on a regular basis and I’m still in touch with people I met through those groups 5 years down the line.

I’m at the Bar now so can’t comment specifically on TCs, but I imagine the situation is similar – some Chambers wouldn’t look twice at someone with an OU degree, others are more concerned with grades and other relevant experience.

(13)(0)
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Anonymous

An Open University degree won’t prevent you from getting a training contract. Most people view them more highly because the people who completed them generally had to show an awful lot more motivation and had more commitments than a normal university student. If you’re looking for a TC with a magic circle firm then you should probably only look at an Oxbridge degree but other than that you need to focus on your experience as much as getting a good grade.
I’m really glad I didn’t read these comments before I obtained my training contract after completing an Open University degree!

(13)(1)
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Anonymous

Short answer, yes.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t get a TC, just means your choices are probably going to be a bit more limited. If you have a wealth of experience in addition to your OU degree, that can work wonders. If not, don’t even think of looking at any bigger firms.

(4)(0)
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Owen

I am currently studying law with the Open University. Whilst I am ashamed to have to say this, with regards to the higher echelons of law firms such as magic circle firms, an OU law degree is probably going to do you know favours. However, I have nothing to compare this to City university.
However, with mid range firms and local firms your chances improve greatly. Remember, that in many cases, Solicitors in particular, firms like to recruit candidates with some life experiences. What better life experience can you take to a firm than doing a distance learning degree either part time for 6 years or full time for 3 years, whilst possibly holding down a part-time/full-time job and looking after a family? With all the up and downs of life in between. Take caution is some replies to your question, the wannabe hotshots our may be ready to lay into the notion of an OU degree, simply because they know they are unable to compete with such life experiences and might feel threatened by it.

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Anonymous

Just another LC article with arrogant twats who most likely know very little about the profession. Comments such as “not with the magic circle, and if it’s not magic circle don’t bother”. The magic circle is 5 fucking firms out of thousands in the UK. Also comments such as “if you don’t have a RG uni on your CV will go nowhere”. Seriously? Do people really think like this? If so please look at some of freshfield’s or Clifford Chance’s current trainees please and tell me that again.

(11)(3)
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Anonymous

Everyday walking into the office Alex could not help but feel a sense of dread. He knew this was a combination of things. There was of course the obvious physical threats of the street thugs who hung around in the down at heal neighbourhood where his office was, who would stand outside the small newsagents goading passers-by. But the deep, sinking feeling in his gut was something else. It was nearing a month now since his last bright idea for a career conundrum, and pressure was building to produce another. This section he knew was the one sure fire way, along with a Lord Harley article, to get those precious clicks and comments.

Of course no one would really turn to the hacks of Legal Cheek and the venomous comments section for advice, so Alex had to invent these. His imagination though was running as dry as his throat felt that morning when he awoke, alone and confused, on the front step of his mum’s small house. Last night had been another mistake that he would rather forget.

Katie and Tom were working industriously when Alex entered the office. The term office was used euphemistically – few others would call a converted cleaning cupboard on the third floor of a local gravel company’s head office as a place of business, but it had to do whilst the revenues from various minor law firms and course providers only trickled in.

Neither Tom or Katie looked up. Alex knew though that the smell that saturated him from not having changed or showered this morning would have alerted them to his presence, but it was Friday, and Roll on Friday had just updated and he knew that both his staff members were studiously copying and pasting articles.

Alex sat down with a groan in the dusty sofa that inhabited the corner of the office, and waited whilst his laptop slowly came to life. It had certainly seen better days, as attested by the sticker that proudly advertised that it came with Windows 95 installed, but it would have to see him through until the big bucks came through from whatever law firm would take pity and sponsor the site.

At that moment an idea began forming in his mind. Whilst rooting around in the bins behind a local Pret that morning for his breakfast, he had seen a brochure for the Open University. Why not make up a student that wanted to go there? He was secretly proud of his idea. He thought that the previous nonsense he had spewed on the careers conundrums had been obvious enough, each “question” portraying a more and more desperate individual, marooned hopelessly far from getting a training contract. But this would beat them all. As he began typing, the creation became more and more vivid. A Cilex grad? Yes. That would get them riled up, he thought, a mischievous grin forming on his face. He knew that the commenters liked nothing more than knocking members of that organisation and the OU.

As the words were finalised, Alex sat back and admired his work. Michelangelo had his David statue; Da Vinci the Sistine Chapel. Even Paul Gascoigne had that goal against Scotland. Now Alex had his moment – the ultimate comment machine.

(22)(0)
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Anonymous

This elitism is just quite pathetic. LLB standard = LLB standard, regardless of whether the LLB was gained at the OU or the local college down the road. The LLB in short, largely comprises the 7 main law degree subjects. It is a game no more and no less; it is about symbolic status….it is just an illusion to control people. Study a real subject like commercial transactions, then a person could quite rightfully boast about their cerebral prowess. It’s almost like these lawyers are part of a zombie apocalypse. I expect them to litter the family courts being state stooges and possessing sub par morals to do so. I have not come across such a difficult subject as commercial transactions and do not think I ever will for that matter.

(4)(3)
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Anonymous

Owen, more than that. Playing devil’s advocate here, an OU law degree does not entail regular lectures and regular seminars whereas in normal unis we benefit from these things notwithstanding being ripped off in the process.

(2)(1)
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Anonymous

I got an OU first and a principal Inns of Court scholarship (I won’t name the Inn or award, as I may give my identity away). Whilst I cannot comment on TC’s, it certainly hasn’t hindered my progress in a career at the bar…

(7)(0)
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Lord Jon

I don’t get it… so you’re doing the CILEX course but also the Open University?

First of all: it’s all well and good to work in the law firm. Cling onto it if you can but pick a route and stick to it.

Either you want to be a CILEX lawyer (and maybe cross qualify as a solicitor) or you want to become a solicitor and go down the training contract route straight off the bat.

An OU degree is a respectable qualification all round- there is a reason why they worked in conjunction with the University of Law for many years…

You’re working at a law firm already so I won’t patronise you with the “you also need stuff on your CV” shpiel.

(1)(0)
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Anonymous

Surely having a proper university degree qualification behind you can provide further career mobility/flexibilty in the future, wouldn’t it? I don’t see what benefit comes from picking a route and sticking with it.

There’s been a wave of posts and articles about legal execs without normal university degrees that are being treated poorly by the legal profession (less pay and less prestige than being a solicitor etc). Even if they cross qualify as a solicitor after, they may still face professional and social barriers from firms or even clients without a BA or LLB or something behind their name other than CILEx.

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Fairly Middling Expert on Proctological Geometric shaped Turds

What’s good about the OU is that the rectal sphincter is dilated allowing any old shite through.

(1)(9)
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Open university student

Anyone can START a degree but not everyone is allowed to finish there are minimum requirements for each module just like any other a uni!!!
Our standards in terms of grading is actually a lot higher too! 85% is required for a first. At brick uni’s it’s only 70%!

(3)(1)
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Open university student

Unfortunately magic circle firms only recruit from a very small pool of units and only if worship them. Frankly I have no time for narrow minded egotists and intend to get a training contract with a firm who appreciate talent not snobbery. I’m doing open university and guess what our 1st is 85% to all the brick uni’s 70% so if anything were as good if not better especially as rather than taking 3 years just studying we work to do get relevant life/work experience over them and their “vac schemes”. If a firm discount you for the open university then they’re not worth your bother

(5)(0)
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Chancery tenant

An OU degree certainly isn’t any worse than an LLB from a poly, and probably better if you can show other relevant experience. Just try not to be too insufferable about how much “life experience” you must have because you are older/have a previous career. By “poly” I mean new universities where you only need BBB-CCC at A Level.

Why don’t you do the University of London external LLB programme? Same thing but much better. You get tutored by LSE/Kings lecturers and do the same exams. Much more highly respected although I think the entrance requirements are higher that OU. Mind you I am sure someone will

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Chancery tenant

*now comment saying that I am totally wrong. To be honest there is no point in asking anyway because you will get 100 different answers all based upon personal prejudice/experience.

(0)(1)
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