‘I am a US grad relocating to England — should I study the GDL or wait for the super-exam?

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I’d really appreciate readers’ advice

In the latest instalment of our Career Conundrums series, a UK-bound lawyer hopeful asks Legal Cheek readers for advice on whether she should do the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

“I am currently a non-law US student who plans to relocate to England next year. I came across your site online through an article concerning the SQE. This upcoming fall, I will be graduating from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in human rights. I originally intended to pursue the GDL next year — however, given the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, I am questioning whether or not I should pursue another route and perhaps wait for this exam to take effect. Do you have any advice or suggestions that would help me decide which next step I should consider? I would love to have the opportunity to gain your perspective on the legal field and would deeply appreciate any ideas/recommendations you might have for me.”

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It’s called autumn not fall.


My 87-year-old grandmother had an autumn yesterday.


Guess she must have lost the spring in her step? You’ll have to get her summer that topical pain relief cream for her bad joints after that one.


Oh wow, looks like we’re walking in a winter punderland!



“I’ve autumn and I can’t get up!”


It’s called fall cus leaf fall down!

American Were-lawyer in London

Tips for an American in the UK:

– No, the restaurant hasn’t given you a child-sized portion.

– If you ask for chips, you will get fries.

– If you want “chips” ask for “crisps”.

– If you ask for “jelly” you will get jello.

– If you want jelly, ask for “jam”.

– The temperatures are not sub-zero- they use Celsius here (unless you’re over 60).

– The NHS is the best thing that this country ever did. Don’t believe the folks back home that it’s third-World healthcare. It’s all lies what the media and politicians say.

– Those petrol prices are in Litres, not gallons. Try not to faint.

– A “Stone” is 14lbs.

– They use miles and pints like back home. The mile is the same as back home. The pint is bigger than back home.

– Some food/drinks are sold in metric (eg soft drinks, packaged foodstuffs) but some is sold in US customary (called “imperial” here) eg milk, coffee shop drinks, steaks, subs, burgers, market-stall food. You’ll get used to it.

– They don’t have GM food here.

– They don’t have the death penalty here and if you say you support it people will look at you funny.

– They don’t have total free speech here- you can be arrested for hate-speech unlike back home where you’re protected.

– Yes, London has a lot of Muslims, but the vast vast majority of them mean you no harm.

– Don’t carry pepper spray (or any weapon) when in public. You don’t need to anyway- your chances of being mugged here are far lower than back home. You’ll be arrested if you say you’re carrying anything for self defense. However if you’re carrying, say, a torch, aerosol deodorant or keys and use it on a mugger, you’ll be fine.

– You can kill a burglar here, provided it’s “reasonable force in the circumstances” and not “grossly disproportionate”. Don’t worry about though- Crime is low here compared to back home, and even the regular cops don’t carry guns.

– They don’t like Europeans or Americans (or most foreigners, really). You might be better off pretending to be Canadian, (who are basically Brits anyway unless they’re from Quebec).

– They drive on the left and have roundabouts like in The Simpsons.

– The candy is far better than at home!


You forgot to mention that lawyers dress like they’re in an 18th century movie!


I didn’t know they made films in the 18th Century! Remarkable.


No-one likes a smartass!


Hear hear


It’s known as Fall in the US. The individual with the enquiry is looking for constructive advice, which it would appear you are either unwilling or unable (or both) to provide.


Just do the GDL. It will still be valid and probably held in higher regard by firms than the SRA’s 💩 of a super-exam.


I entirely agree; this is good advice.


I would say there is no time like the present. Do the GDL from September and get applying for training contracts from October. Prepare for a very tough year of exams and applications/interviews. Land a training contract and allow your future employer to pay for your LPC and start practicing law in UK in 2021.


I’m surprised you know about the crash course GDL most other inbound American grads do the full 3 year degree on top of their American degree in the UK!

Keep it classy try the degree over a diploma. (Unless of course you’re cheap and opt to do the GDL)


Original commenter here.

I would add that a GDL is okay but a degree is better if for some reason, the American student wants to go back and be admitted to other state bars in the US. Some of them DO NOT Accept the GDL. Tread cautiously here.


Do a Senior Status LLB – takes 2 years.


They already have a degree, in fact they would have two as you cannot progress onto a qualifying degree unless you do a general undergraduate. There is no class issue here, they are in the postgraduate phase, and regardless I think it is a bit petty to bring class into this situation


Get a training contract and then do the GDL on the firm.


Would take longer to get a training contract now before starting GDL as he would have to apply for the 2022 intake to get sponsorship for his GDL before LPC. That would leave one year of doing nothing while waiting to get a TC through vacation scheme apps etc. Better to self enroll on GDL now then apply for TCs that will cover LPC for the following year. I still think that would leave a one year gap after LPC before TC starts. Better to have that break later once career and studies all sorted out, not now before.


S/he could spend that year getting some experience to strengthen those TC apps. Assuming no visa problems.


Do the GDL.


AVOID GDHELL like the plague


It’s really not that bad mate


Gdl. Super exam is still in the distance, no point messing around.


Why are the SRA even bothering with the ‘Super Exam’? Completely unnecessary.


bar exam in the US, then join as associate in the UK (likely at an American firm). It’s difficult, but people have done this.
Beside the annoying “US qualified” in the email nothing changes – but you save two years


S/he hasnt done a JD…


You can do GCSE law, scratch your balls for a bit and do a crappy dissertation in the summer and they will convert your cookery course into an LLM. They will only charge you 25 k.

No one will respect it. No one will recognise it.

Or, move to a little island and buy a fishing boat.

Law is full of monkey degrees and you’re better off dipping your head in hot sand and breathing in deeply before heading downtown for a nice cool milkshake.

Cambridge Law Grad.

Really not helpful… but what do I know (Cambridge Law Grad with a TC)

FACT stater

The average Cambridge law professor is an autistic with no GCSEs who got where he’s gotten by sucking off members of the House of Lords. FACT


I am sure there are other forums for people such as you. Please spare the rest of us the effluxions of your silly mind

Common Scum with Regional TC

As someone likely to wind up in family law, can I pitch to have you as a retained client? I bet your 3rd+ divorce will be uber profitable.

Only a few words in your post and your already insufferable.


Wow; ignore the trolls at the top.

The SQE starts in 2020, but the SRA has said to course providers (not in the media) that there will be leeway and that you can go the old route for a while, they haven’t yet said how long! It could be 5 years it could be 10. We still don’t know. The reason being that from completing the LPC (Legal Practice Course) you need to start a TC within 5 years for it to still be valid… so there will be overlap.

The SQE will give you different skills, in some respects lesser in some respects greater, but the old system (current really) will give you practical experience and real life knowledge of the basics, which if in the wrong place you won’t get on the SQE systems

Both will he valid and worthwhile: however, firms have not really got involved and are hoping they can do as they have always done, so it might be easier to get on the conveyor belt now.

Having done some think tank seminars about the SQE, I personally have serious reservations, but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

Ignore the idiots and do what you think is write for you. You’ve graduated so I’d say do the GDL, LPC and get the TC ASAP…


“The reason being that from completing the LPC (Legal Practice Course) you need to start a TC within 5 years for it to still be valid… so there will be overlap”

Wrong. Law Society guidelines state that the LPC must be completed within 5 years once the programme has started, but there’s no expiry date on the LLB, GDL, or LPC once completed.


Having a real law degree instead of the one-year conversion course provides mobility. I did the a senior status LLB at a real UK university after graduating from a leading North American university. Stay far away from those useless private institutions like ULaw and BPP… did my LPC at ULaw and unlike any decent uni they don’t even pretend to hold any interest in the students.

I ultimately accepted an offer to stay in the UK, but having a real law degree helped me receive offers from back across the pond. It also helped having a UK degree designation for my interviews here. Most big-time law firms know Columbia and my university, but some are thrown off by the GPA system. Most don’t understand getting a 3.7 at an Ivy college is an Oxbridge “First”. Side note: if you do have a 3.7 GPA or higher both Oxford and Cambridge offer 2-year qualifying law degrees, but if I remember correctly you need to do the British version of the LSAT for Oxford and Cambridge has its own entrance exam.

Whatever the new SQE exam involves, along with any new one-year/online/useless prep course or certificate that results from it, a proper UK law degree will remain valuable and transferable.


This is good advice except I don’t think the New York Bar would accept applicants who do a condensed 2-year law degree, even from Cambridge/Oxford. You need to have done three years of proper legal study to qualify for NY Bar exams, if I understand correctly.


OP here: I believe you are correct. Challenging the NY bar was a no go following graduation. However, I believe I could have done it after completing the LPC. I also did one of those useless LLM designations for extra letters which may have made it easier.

From my understanding the NY bar requires 3 years of common law study. I could have also done a normal LLM at any common law school. Alternatively, I think they allow you to challenge the NY bar if you’re a qualified lawyer in a common law jurisdiction already. I could be wrong on that last point though as it was something I have not looked at in years.


Get admitted in New York, then do QLTS – faster and cheaper!


Err… no.

1. Law school in the US is way pricier than the GDL;
2. Law school in the US takes 3 years vs 1.5 or 2 years to the GDL and LPC.
3. If you are just out of law school in the US you’re still going to have to do a TC at a UK firm (they won’t take you as an NQ).
4. She is relocating to the UK next year not in 3 years time.

Genuine question

Does anyone here know a cure for penile numbness?


Tell the paralegal to loosen their grip.


It depends if you are a female or a male. If you are female you can take your top off and have sex with male partners to get your GDL funded. If you are a male you can use your strength to your advantage.

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