One third of law students regret their degree choice

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And double that think the course is not good value for money

Most law students think their degree is not good value for money, while a third admit they’d consider another course if they had their time again.

Asked ‘If you knew what you know now, would you have chosen another course?’, 31% punted for ‘definitely’ or ‘maybe’. More generally across all degree disciplines, 34% of the 14,057 undergraduate students questioned gave the same answer.

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It is worth noting this question, asked by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), was directed at current students, not graduates. A law degree is well-respected and viewed as hard currency among graduate employers, both inside and outside of the legal system. However sometimes one only realises this post-graduation, not during an early morning, coffee-driven revision session spent crying over Vandervell. Perhaps the answer given would be different once said undergraduate has a degree result they’re proud of and, even better, a decent grad job.

Data via HEPI

Tied up with this law student regret is a perception the degree is not value for money. Lawyers have few contact hours and instead spend most their time taking notes from expensive textbooks they usually have to buy for themselves. As one student told Legal Cheek:

“I do wonder why I am spending £9,000 a year.”

With that said, it’s perhaps unsurprising just 33% of law students, as part of this HEPI study, rated their course’s value for money as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. This is compared to an average of 35% across all subjects.

Below average yes, but law’s rating is far from the worst.

A smaller percentage of students from courses including linguistics, history, philosophy, creative arts, technology and social sciences gave their courses the ‘worth the money’ thumbs up. The perception of value for money is strongest in more vocational courses like medicine and veterinary sciences, degree courses that are usually followed by swift employment instead of the further study anticipated by aspiring lawyers.

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“The perception of value for money is strongest in more vocational courses like medicine and veterinary sciences, degree courses that are usually followed by swift employment instead of the further study anticipated by aspiring lawyers.”

Err what ? Swift employment ? This is massively not true. Not even slightly. You don’t finish an MB ChB and walk straight into the operating theatre..

The trouble with Law is that it’s sold as some sort of easily assailable gateway to a bright and bold future with riches galore and glamour ahoy (just witness some of the bright-eyed 14 year old articles with their “I’m thinking of studying Law. It’s great isn’t it ? Cos I want to be like that guy on the telly” ridiculousness articles we’ve had on here. Yet the painful truth is you’re either going to sell your soul and all your waking hours in MC/SC hell (if you went to Oxford/Cambridge otherwise maybe tough shit..) or end up working lower tier on little better than slave wages.

Let’s not even get onto the years of penury and misery that is in store for Bar aspirants-partic criminal. Again if you’re not Oxford/Cambridge pretty much forget any other areas..

I studied Law part time as an afterthought (many) years after doing an electrical engineering degree as a fulltime student. Not sure I’d recommend either but at least engineering does give you a certain degree of choice and chance.

It’s all wrong I’m afraid. The privilege, the bullshit, the culture. Every bit of it…



So, if you’re not at MC/SC you are on ‘slave wages’….




The majority of MC/SC trainees are not Oxbridge. Many junior Solicitors outside of those two groups also get paid perfectly well, whether that be in a smaller City firm or a regional one like Burgess Salmon. You sound like a graduate who hasn’t got a job in law so I’m not sure why you consider yourself qualified to know anything about this.



So why do a third of people regret their choice then ?

Trouble with most lawyers is they struggle with science and maths so I guess most of the alternative courses listed wouldn’t be an option anyway. N’est pas ?



This is a survey of undergraduate students, ie people in the same position as you who don’t know very much about the legal profession. It’s specificaly mentioned in the article. This lack of critical reading will harm TC chances far more than not being at Oxbridge.



I critically read this reply. I thought it was shit.

Your move


So, even if we take these facts as gospel, you think that the 31% of people all felt it was because they would end up getting paid akin to slave wages?

What are you talking about? Incredibly ill-informed comment with no thought to lack of intellectual satisfaction etc

And as for being ruled out of ‘most’ of the subjects on this list, just get a grip. There are around 8/10 technically based subjects on their you dimwit.



Lawyers with maths and science a-levels represent! All due respect chemistry was my favourite and best subject. Please don’t assume that because we picked what you crudely seem to assume is an ‘artsy’ subject that we are all numerically illiterate.

That being said given my time again I probably wouldn’t have picked law. But that’s not because I hated my degree, it’s because the careers advice for science at my school was rubbish and as a girl I wasn’t encouraged to pursue the sciences. I would likely have picked all science a-levels if I knew then what I know now so it’s apples and oranges; I wouldn’t have been a law-appropriate candidate. I wanted to challenge myself and law seemed liked the next best thing.



Fair point, good for you (I’m not being sarcastic here) and thanks for playing but you’d probably admit that you are something of a rarity. I’m guessing most of your peers didn’t do science A levels.

Career advice in my school was crap as well – I can sympathise there. 🙂


It’s “n’est-ce pas”. The trouble with non-lawyers is that they struggle with languages…



n’est pas is perfectly valid. You plum

s.32 Salmon Act 1986

Because law is best thought of as a competitive sport. It is really hard to enjoy it if you’re not good at it, and the bottom third, by definition, are not good at it. Even in less adversarial advisory fields, you are in open competition with other lawyers, other firms, etc. to attract the attention of clients (whether internal or external). If you can’t win those contests, the constant pattern of effort and defeat leads to disillusionment and regret.


Just Anonymous

“Let’s not even get onto the years of penury and misery that is in store for Bar aspirants-partic criminal. *Again if you’re not Oxford/Cambridge pretty much forget any other areas*..“


Ignore this.



Some famous person once said: ‘Law school is the biggest scam ever’. Can’t remember who, but I totally agree. 12 hours of teaching per week, the rest is your own work. In the end, you are in the unknown, unless you are lucky enough to land a decent job. I would totally cut the fees by at least 70% if I could.



Try 2 hours contact time doing a history degree. Bleeeyaraha!


Jones Day Partner

I do not regret my degree choice.





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