Advice

Are all Russell Group unis valued equally by firms?

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I have offers to study law at two but don’t know which to choose

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one A-level student has a tough decision to make.

“I am currently choosing which university to study law at, and I have managed to whittle it down to two: York and Newcastle. Newcastle is actually my preferred option, but some people have told me York is more prestigious and firms would value a degree from there more. I had just assumed all Russell Group universities were equally prestigious but maybe I’m wrong. Should I go for York over Newcastle instead?”

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

113 Comments

Anonymous

Just go with the one you like best! In the real world, no-one cares where you went to uni unless it was Oxbridge.

Anonymous

Not quite true, there is a hierarchy in the RGs….UCL, LSE and Durham, for example, are more prestigious than, say, Manchester

s.32 Salmon Act 1986

This is true, but only from an academic perspective. From a hiring perspective, we see just as many trainees from Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester, etc. as UCL, LSE, Durham, etc. Frankly, if you have a 2:1 from any of these institutions, the academic credentials criteria are satisfied. What is most likely to make a difference is what else you did with your time. Mooting, law society participation, writing for law school magazines, etc. will all make a much bigger impact than the difference between Durham and Manchester.

Anonymous

Why was my ranking deleted? This is an outrage against my majestic person!

Anonymous

Because you’re fucking boring mate

Anonymous

I could have you sent to jail for 3 1/7 weeks for that!

Anonymous

University, not ‘uni’

Corbyn.Sympathiser

You need a full stop after a sentence. Dumbass.

grazi

That was not a sentence, dear, much like your second utterance.

Anonymous

A single word can be a sentence.

Anonymous

I believe they’re both equally regarded. But not all RG are. For example, LSE would be better regarded than Liverpool.

Pick Newcastle if you want to have a fun time during your degree. Pick York if you prefer the quieter life.

Newcastle LLB grad

STRAWPEDO

York LLB grad

WHEATGRASS SMOOTHIE

Anonymous

Newcastle gets you three trebles for £5…

Anonymous

Half strength alcohol though. So it’s more like 1.5 drinks for a fiver

Anonymous

I seriously doubt they are all valued the same. Beside Oxbridge, I believe you should prioritise London RG universities – if you can.

Anonymous

My understanding is that neither York nor Newcastle is in London.

Anonymous

That is exactly the point. He should not pick either.
Are you still sleeping at 11am?

Anonymous

Have you been asleep since September?

It’s June. They’re choosing between these two because those are the offers they’ve got.

Anonymous

Newcastle is all about the banter, popped rugby shirt collars and rah rah rah

Anonymous

Wham bam

Anonymous

There is categorically a heavy bias towards RG unis in basically every international, national, and (most) regional firms. But beyond that, it doesn’t really matter. One thing to consider is which firms you might want to work at later on. Take a look at which firms went to the law grad recruitment fairs in Newcastle and York. Do they align with your preferences? Do not underestimate how much meeting and getting to know people at those events can help.

Also, are there firms locally that you would be interested in? Will you look to stay locally to do a summer or Easter vac scheme?

All other things being equal, it shouldn’t matter much which one you choose.

Dean O'Brien

No one cares… you could have done theoretical theory studies inside Guantanamo bay, graduated with a 4th and your 15,000 word dissertation could be on the inside of a tennis ball and still, no one would care.

Being a Lawyer is about money and clients. Learn to make money for your firm and get on well with clients – which you will learn when you enter the industry.

Unless you’re aiming for magic circle, then oxbridge is a prerequisite.

Anonymous

In my experience, the magic circle take on much more non-RG students than other international/silver circle firms. Especially A&O.

Anonymous

BUT you must also leverage your contacts.

THIS IS ESSENTIAL MATE – then you can go to Kirkland and live the good life.

Anonymous

My MC intake was about 30% Oxbridge.

Anonymous

My anal intake last night was 100% oxbridge, beat that!

Colonel Sanders

You should base you decision on which location has the most Greggs. Newcastle has 9 within a 20-minute walking distance. If you can’t go to Oxbridge, make do with a steak bake.

A trainee

There are broad categories of uni and where you go within each category isn’t hugely important, except at the top end where a uni is particularly reputable for a specific subject. I always see it as set out below, but others may disagree.

1) Oxbridge
2) LSE, UCL, Warwick, (Durham?), Imperial
3) the rest of the Russel Group. I see Bristol, Ed, Nott, Kings as a separate top tier within this group.
4) average unis
5) profiteering ex-polies and the like

Anonymous

Yep, Imperial has a TOP TOP LLB.

Prof. Diane Abbott

I heard it has about the same prestige as a princeton law school JD

Anonymous

Yet it seems like most science grads on GDL route at top firms come from Imperial. Imperial is better than Oxbridge for numerous science pursuits so it’s great if you plan to GDL.

BPTC student

Do you even GDL bro?

Anonymous

Warwick on second tier you for real? And Imperial does not even have a fking law department. Get outta here

RUSSEL

THICC prestige

Corbyn.Sympathiser

Imperial don’t do law. Dumbass.

Anonymous

GDL exists you clown

Corbyn.Sympathiser

Bugger off, fascist.

Anonymous

It shouldn’t.

Anonymous

Warwick it shit and packed with chippy state school people. The place looks like a giant comp to make the students feel at home.

Anonymous

Fully agree with those rankings

Anonymous

My parents are on benefits, I’m at the bar. Suck my dick 🙂

TheAcresOfFour

JD & Coke whilst you are there mate.

Anonymous

Lol you clearly went to Warwick, hence the little promotion for them in your ranking

Legal Recruiter

York. No question.

Ciaran Goggins

I presumed not I assumed. Newcastle might be better, I attended a conference at York. Dire. That said you could get many exotic SDT’s at Bigg Market.

Anonymous

I think York and Newcastle are regarded equally so just pick which one you prefer! I would personally find York a bit too small and quiet but that might be why some people like it!

Anonymous

Definitely not – York are viewed as miles better than Newcastle, especially for law.

Anonymous

Lol no, my friend. It is not.

I went to UCL and now work in the city. I am yet to meet a single York law graduate in the city. It is a new faculty, so doesn’t have any reputation at the moment.

Choose where you want to live for the next 3 years of your life..

Anonymous

York’s unique. We’re taught to look at modules in context, and to think practically about how they interact. Rather than Contract and Tort modules we do Obligations, which is heavily conceptually linked to Equity & Trusts, giving you a great and broad understanding of private civil law. We ground this learning in the context of real life problems. Other unis silo off their modules from one another in a way that doesn’t reflect the law in practice, though having never been to one I can’t truly substantiate the point beyond anecdotes. We also work in groups in a big way – if you aren’t a fan of that then reeeally don’t go to York. However, if you’re not a fan of that then maybe reconsider the solicitor route. It’s a people business. To that end, I can genuinely say there’s none of the dog eat dog shit you find at other unis – you can talk to anyone in the PBL area and know they’ll help you out as much as they can with any piece of work you care to mention.

Firms love us. We’ve been carpet-bombed with attention from Clifford Chance this year. I’ve been to several assessment days where I’ve been the only non-Oxbridge attendee. Interviewers and grad rec generally are always interested in hearing about how we work. We’re also closer to London, making it a touch easier to nip down for networking events.

The academics are acknowledged to be pretty tough, their marking’s well known to be a bit punishing. However, there’s an amazing staff to student ratio with loads of contact time. They’re incredibly responsive, both one-on-one and in terms of course structure. It was recently completely renovated in response to student feedback.

Night life obviously isn’t on par with Newcastle, but there’s a strong night out every night of the week and piles of bars, alongside all the Society stuff going on.

Reputation-wise, York’s Law School is only 10 years old and already on par with the ‘strong’ RG red-bricks. Make of that what you will.

Anonymous

Quality puff piece there mate, how much?

Anonymous

None of the dog eat dog is shite preparation for practice.

Even at Associate level, where you’d assume the most collegial atmosphere (with no NQ bun fight or knives out for partnership) it is still a major political game. The Senior Associates are at each other like wolves.

If you’re expecting to get to the City and no have to go dog eat dog you’re in for a shock.

Anonymous

York is unique!

Hahahahaha

Anonymous

I agree with everything apart from the comment about there being no dog eat dog attitude. Im in my final year set to graduate, and have found it to be the complete opposite.

Anonymous

I agree with everything above (apart from it not being dog-eat-dog), but come on Adam, calm down mate.

Anonymous

I have never met a York law grad in my time working in the city and do not believe the US firm I work for has ever hired one.

Anonymous

Seconded.

Anonymous

Thats cos York is less than 10 years old – more people have TC’s in my year than at any other place I have friends at.

Anonymous

Fascinating. What would you do if you were a barrister and you and I, a judge, we’re aiming for the same last available taxi on a Saturday night?

Anonymous

The answer depends on how settled your career aspirations are. If you are settled on a particular kind of firm doing a particular kind of law, the previous commenters suggestion to find out which firms go to career events etc at each uni is sensible. Those firms have already made the assessment that they would rather recruit from one over the other.

However, if your aim is a training contract – any training contract – and this might be at any firm doing any kind of law, then both Newcastle and York will attract firms to their career events.

The priority will then be for you to obtain the best marks that you can, as well as to develop a well-rounded extra-curricular profile. To do this you need to be as happy as possible and if you think that this will be in Newcastle, then go for it. You will have a better chance of getting a training contract with a good degree mark from Newcastle than a mediocre one from York (or visa versa).

There is also more to choosing a uni than what specific firms are after. There are (despite what many on legal cheek seem to think) many more ways of practicing law than a magic circle law firm in the city of London.

– Which uni will give you the broadest exposure to the different opportunities that are out there?
– Which uni offers optional modules which interest you the most?
– Which uni offers extra-curricular opportunities that interest you the most?
– Where do you feel happiest and more ‘at home’?

Uni is a major formative period in your life. You may discover that you don’t want to practice law in the kind of way that you currently think you do. You may even find out that you don’t want to practice law either, and that other careers are a better fit for you. This happens more often than is given credit to and is a normal part of many people’s personal development.

Law degrees from either Newcastle or York will open doors to you in a lot of different places; some known, some unexpected. Go whereever you think will make you happiest.

Anonymous

People have been writing up their own league tables on the internet since the early 2000s. Usually these people place their own university right behind Oxbridge.

As discussed above, these people are wrong and insecure nutbags. There’s already been a couple out and about so far in the comments. The university matters little. The results matter a lot.

Accordingly, you should probably go to York for the academics. Newcastle is hands down a better city to be a student. I say York for academics ONLY because of degree outcomes. York’s law degree is new relatively (they didn’t offer it until years after I graduated) and they have heavily inflated their degree outcomes. Go to unistats.com and compare the universities. Newcastle has 5% firsts for the last year, the rest almost all 2.1s. York has 23.4% firsts and the rest almost all 2.1s. It also indicates that York is giving students higher module grades amongst the 2.1s. And the reality is the calibre of student and work ethic is really very similar across RG universities and even Oxbridge. The above stats are a trend across multiple years.

Anonymous

The higher percentage of first does make a big difference actually, unfortunately.

Anonymous

can we please have more discussion like this please:

also can people give their experiences on how easy they found obtaining a TC due to their university’s prestige: LSE, Oxbridge, UCL and more?

Anonymous

Bristol here. Was fairly easy to get a TC personally, but I know people who struggled before getting one/are still looking. The majority of my year who were applying for them have gotten TC’s by now though – for context, we graduated last year. That said, there’s a fairly large minority who are still searching.

I don’t think going to Bristol helped me post interview, where they were deciding who to give offers to. I don’t think it even helped me post initial vetting – where they were deciding who to interview. What it did help in was the events. Barring Quinn Emanuel (who don’t offer TC’s but have a substantial NQ intake) and Sullivan & Cromwell, I can’t think of a firm – Magic Circle, White Shoe, Silver Circle, Mid Tier US, Mid Tier UK – in London with even a slightly substantial practice in the UK that doesn’t have trainees/associates from Bristol. Most firms have multiple partners who studied here as well.

That means that firms actually come to Bristol for events, which is especially significant for White Shoe firms and their competition like Latham and Kirkland, because most of them only visit 5-6 universities. It also means that firms send their alumni for these events – that makes it easier for small talk/breaking the ice (if you’re bad at networking) + getting information that’s not your typical HR speak – which in turn makes it easier for you to apply with information in your application that’s not purely generic. It also gives you a chance to impress people – something that’s both very overrated and underrated at the same time – it won’t ever make someone automatically give you a job, but it might make them 5% more likely to give you an interview.

The final thing is if you’re from Bristol or an equivalent uni, most firms don’t view a low 2.1 as harshly as they would if you were from a university that’s perceived to be less good. That gives you slightly more leeway, but not really enough to feel secure with. This isn’t the case for all firms though – Slaughters and Covington for example will almost always want a 65 at least.

Anonymous

Is white shoe still a term?

Anonymous

FTAOD, multiple comments have been removed questioning the veracity of the Bristol’s commenter’s content having correctly identified the real individual who is doing the posting (who is not known for his integrity…).

Anonymous

LOL so formal

Future trainee at Herbert Smith Freehills

Fully back this. Unis like Bristol (my alumni) which are very much mid tier Russel group have an equal offering in terms of career progression as UCL / LSE / oxbridge. Law firms are all over campus all the time. I became interested in law after a free coffe with Herbert smith freehills outside the gym (non law student). So ultimately don’t pick York you loser go Newcastle, get 67% and have a fun 3 years.

Ciaran Goggins

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Sullivan, linked to the bent FBME bank n’est pas?

Anonymous

There is a difference between RG universities (as others above have pointed out e.g LSE more recognised than York or Newcastle). But between law at York and Newcastle there is absolutely no difference whatsoever. If anything York would be the lesser known LLB as it is a very recently created law faculty (it didn’t exist when I start my law degree 10 years ago).

Go where you would enjoy more.

Anonymous

There is certainly a hierarchy within RG:

1. Oxbridge
2. London
3. Rest of RG

Corbyn.Sympathiser

This is the hierarchy :

1. Oxford (Brooks)
2. South Bank
3. Westminster
4. HMP Wansdworth (Via Open University)
5. Belgrade University (do a decent colouring in course)

Oxford and Cambridge have a bad reputation in good London firms because the people who go there are not street wise, get tired too easily and cry and wee their pants when they see a fight outside a pub.

Anonymous

You’re an imbecile – Belgrade University is the finest university in Serbia, and has nothing to do with brown-circle UK universities.

Why do you even bring it up in supposedly tongue-in-cheek list? Totally irrelevant.

Anonymous

Shots fired…

Corbyn.Sympathiser

Last time I checked, I had the right to free speech, oppressor.

Can’t wait for JC to win the next election to kick fascists like you out.

Anonymous

It’s the finest university in Serbia? Are there other universities in Serbia? In fact, do they have electricity in Serbia?

Antitrust

Ignorant comment. Their uni dates back to 1808 (with the law faculty 1841) and their teams usually do very well in international competitions such as the Jessup and the Willem C Vis Moot (came across them both in Hong Kong and Vienna). So chances are that it’s a better uni than most of the mediocre RG unis which never achieve anything relevant internationally. (Yes, I’m aware King’s normally does exceptionally well at the Jessup and UCL and LSE runs strong teams at the Willem C Vis but London is different). Just because Serbia is a poor country don’t assume their best unis are worse than most of the UK ones (with notable exceptions of course).

TheAcresOfFour

Just came back from Belgrade 2 days ago.

Firstly, Nikola Tesla (Serbian) was the inventor of the AC induction motor giving rise to our modern electrical system – you could not have possibly made yourself look more stupid with that comment.

Secondly, Serbia has many universities including the University of Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad amongst others.

I would happily pitch any University of Belgrade medicine graduate against any medicine graduate from leading universities in the UK for knowledge and competence despite it being a very poor country.

Get over yourself.

loljkm8

Brookes*

Alumni REPRESENTING

Anonymous

Did you get extra lessons on how to spell there?
– a proud south bank grad

loljkm8

Well I couldn’t really read very well but they did help me attain a certificate which proves I can read *at least* as well as a 13 year old. #proud

All jokes aside, I know Brookes is a crap “ex-poly” but I worked hard, did well and now I’m doing pretty well for myself. I’m not MC/US firm etc. but I’m making my way down town, walking fast, faces pass and I’m home bound.

Anonymous

Yes but UCL, King’s and LSE different tier to QM

Commercial barrister

I don’t think there is much to choose from, prestige-wise, between York and Newcastle. They’re about the same level imo. Go for the one you prefer!

Anonymous

Shouldn’t really be a debate – York (for commercial law) is miles better! If you are more interested in student life and nightlife etc. then go to Newcastle (better clubs, plus PBL is a lot of extra work)

Anonymous

L.O.L. Yes, that well known York Law School commercial law course *rolls eyes* the law faculty was founded 10 years ago. Not saying it isn’t good, but it is a very new course, in a new faculty. It certainly doesn’t have any reputation (good or bad).

Anonymous

Go Sheffield Uni – Ian Bagshaw didn’t do too badly having graduated from there!

LLB Applicant

Does Leicester university have a good law school?

Boris Corbyn

No.

LLB Applicant

Will anyone from there get a TC at a good firm?

Time Traveller from the End of Time

No.

Harry Thotter

Newcastle is cracking – more Made in Chelsea than Geordie Shore mind. Never caused me any problems.

random thoughts and little torts

Warwick is okay, second just about right but not for its law reputation more for it overall vibe as a university.

Anonymous

Bristol > Warwick for city law career progression. Legal cheek and chambers student stats back it up

Anonymous

I think generally the RG can be divided along the following lines (as a non-RG graduate myself in recruitment!) not including Scottish Universities)

1. Oxbridge
2. LSE UCL Durham (LSE has the edge with Durham being the lower one)
3. Kings, Bristol, Warwick , Exeter (in that order perhaps some debate about the latter two)
4. Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, York, QMUL, Cardiff,

Anonymous

1. LSE
2. Oxbridge
3. York, Warwick, notts, ucl, Kenya, bristol
4. Brooke’s, ex-polys, etc
5. Paying homeless bum to teach you law
6. Durham – FACT

Recruiter

I think generally the RG can be divided along the following lines (as a non-RG graduate myself in recruitment!) not including Scottish Universities)

1. Oxbridge
2. LSE UCL Durham (LSE has the edge with Durham being the lower one)
3. Kings, Bristol, Warwick , Exeter (in that order perhaps some debate about the latter two)
4. Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, York, QMUL, Cardiff, Southampton

Subject to individual prejudices (ive always thought Exeter was good but not as good as many seem to say and Nottingham also has a good reputation).

In reality, however, no one really puts too much stock in this and it depends on many other factors.

Anonymous

3 and 4 above can definitely be combined. No difference at all between those two groups.

Anonymous

Did you study at Exeter per chance?

It is suspiciously high in your ranking. You’re the first person I’ve come across to place Exeter so high.

Recruiter

As I said- a non RG graduate!
I happen to agree about your comments re Exeter ive always thought it was OK but not the same as Bristol etc – I was just pointing out they tend to have a good reputation that was perhaps debatable! Usually I get people arguing that I am wrong and that it is just as good. It is probably because it is very “posh”.

To be honest it is a load of rubbish because it totally depends on personal bias and cognitive dissonance!

Anonymous

Full disclosure: I attended university in North America and moved back after graduating. The following is only what I have observed from my experiences with various UK university grads in law firms.

I have met a lot of Exeter alumni at City firms (both during the recruitment rounds and also whilst working). With the exception of Nottingham being too low, I would agree with this list.

The answer is quite simple: the universities in groups one and two (plus Notts) are known for having many students from a more affluent background, and law is a posh profession. Firms like recruiting people from lawyer/professional/affluent backgrounds.

You can justify it for a number of reasons such as firms wanting recruits with high potential for valuable future client contacts; the partners are posh and they like to mentor equally posh people/feel comfortable having them sit in with clients; and they usually have a better grounding in their education because they could afford to go to great schools (whether that is fair or not is a topic for another day). Subsequently they are more likely to place them in good universities. There’s always exceptions to this of course, but they’re just that… exceptions.

Remember, it’s not necessarily about the quality of law school, it’s about the quality of alumni connections. This has been especially true in the last decade as half of all TCs go to non-law students, and who knows how the new SQE will screw up all these metrics.

Anonymous

Have a think about where you might like to practice as a number of firms ask whether or not you have a connection to their locality. Your choice of university could be a starting point in answering this.
Also, what do you want to get out of university. Do you want to be out on campus or city centre? Do you want a quieter few years or to be out clubbing etc most (if not every night)?
Have a good look at the course modules – it sounds as though they’re completely different. So what do you think might interest you the most. If you’re not going to enjoy the majority of topics then you’re not going to particularly work hard. On top.of that though you need to get stuck in to extra curicular activities. So again look at what both universities offer. There are so many applicants with good academics. The important thing is to do other things to male you stand out.
Good luck with the decision!

Anon

Where are the daily news roundups? They are the only reason I even read this site…

Anonymous

is UCL better than LSE?

Anonymous

UCL is trash

Anonymous

No

Anonymous

The York Law school has recently been ranked 5th in the country for law, and I’m slightly bias as a student at York, but honestly, whichever one you choose won’t affect your career too much. Newcastle is obviously going to be better for a night out if you want to make the most of university drinking culture, but that culture still exists in York, if somewhat less so. And Leeds is 20 minutes away on the train which I think is fantastic

Anonymous

Mate, no one thinks York is 5th in the UK. It is a good faculty, but certainly no better than Newcastle (if anything most people would think Newcastle has the edge).

Anonymous

Is it possible to get a training contract with a white shoe firm without doing their vac scheme- but with doing two at mid-market firms?

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