Aspiring solicitor who studied film and media warns against doing dead-end arts degrees

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By Bradley Fountain-Green on


‘Overpriced and underfunded’

An aspiring solicitor who switched to law after initially studying film has warned uni-goers against doing dead-end arts degrees.

Paralegal Alasdair Gretton-Richards claims his degree in film and media was “overpriced and underfunded”, and has cautioned those considering following in his footsteps.

“When I tell people I studied film, they ask if we watched movies all day, which was basically true,” Gretton-Richards says. “Contrast that to my law degree, you couldn’t afford to miss anything otherwise you’d drop too far behind, and everyone wanted to learn.”

After graduating, Gretton-Richards says he opted to study law as a postgrad to enhance his job prospects and find stability in his professional life. He went on to complete both the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course at The University of Law in Manchester.

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Despite making movies from the age of eight, the aspiring lawyer agrees with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plans to crackdown on what he describes as “poor quality” university courses. This could see caps on the number of students allowed to study what government ministers have described as “rip-off” degrees.

The ULaw grad aims to qualify as a solicitor, but hasn’t let go of his passion for film-making just yet. His debut feature film, Masked Conspiracy, premiered on 5 August and one day hopes to have his work feature at Cannes Film Festival.



Spends the entire article degrading art and media degrees yet states at the end that he is currently making a feature film. Hypocrisy at its finest, like his idol Rishi Sunak.
Also, word to the wise – as you are yet to even get a TC – don’t burn bridges already by insulting a wide group of people.


Harsh realities

Why is Rishi Sunak, or anyone else who doubts the worth of many university degrees, a hypocrite? Most people agree with him.

The expansion of universities and the assumption of a university place after school has destroyed any sense of recognition of academic achievement for the bulk of students. Oxbridge and the other – few – really good universities have maintained proper, acknowledged standards. But most graduates now have toilet paper degree certificates.

There’s also a scandal in the worthlessness of vocational law training. Especially among the very many misguided Bar hopefuls who won’t get anywhere near a pupillage but who pay thousands for the experience of finding out that obvious truth.


Because Rishi Sunak and all of the government still rely on those with wordless degrees to assist the government. Who do you think creates all of their ad campaigns, posters etc? Certainly not someone with a maths degree. Like the person who wrote this article – degrades film studies but yet is still releasing an independent film. You couldn’t make it up


That is a really weird and pointless comment. Degrees aren’t required for creativity. Advertising is a business, not an academic discipline.


Not really. The point is that those people could still assist Sunak and the government etc. without the worthless degrees. And as for him releasing his own film, even if that’s something he learnt from his degree, why does that mean he ought to consider it worth a degree? It’s quite reasonable to regret devoting a BA to something, even if you use what your learnt.


Can you explain what you mean about Bar hopefuls? Do you just mean people that pay for the BPTC but have no real chance of getting a pupilage? Or something else?


The comment was “misguided Bar hopefuls”. So I’d assume what was meant was that the providers take a lot of money from people who patently have no hope of pupillage. Which is true.

The numbers of students, and existing B(P)TC grads, v the number of pupillages is enough to tell any sensible person that unless you’re really outstanding – one of a very small number – you won’t succeed.


Hard agree, many of these degrees are just cash cows to fund the grossly high expenses of universities like chancellors’ salaries


I was hoping for some more chaos in the comments. Does anyone have a burning opinion on this that they would like to share?


Mate I only come here to check if another firm is rising their salaries 😂

Auntie Woake

This shows the flaw in the student loan process. Students would make better decisions if the debt was true debt not just added income tax on the successful.


Tory wetwipe


It is true. I always chuckle at people who think a GDL is remotely equivalent to an LLB. The only reason why people get away with it at firm level is because transactional work just requires stamina.


Pretty pointless to compare the two… I mean, I chuckle at people who think that an LLB is remotely equivalent to a BA (Jurisprudence) or BA (Law).


Absolutely, agreed. Which one was it that you failed to get into?


Still got an Oxford sized chip on your shoulder huh?

Sorry Not Sorry

My experience, from the Bar, is that I expected there to be a difference between those with LLBs and those who did the conversion process but in practice there was no difference other than perhaps in the context of appellate work where academic nuance can be valuable. But any difference even in that area is limited and short-lived.

With solicitor specialisation these days, I would not expect there is any likely difference on that side of the profession. One has to specialise and whether one has an LLB or GDL the vast bulk of the learning on the area in question is done on the job. Were I advising someone nowadays thinking about law as a career I would say they should seriously consider doing languages or business degrees and then the GDL.


Why should one study languages before doing a law degree? 🤔


Things have changed so much. I know a partner at an elite US firm who first joined the firm in the post room at the age of 18. These days working your way up like that would be unimaginable.


Same in Banking. The idea of someone working their way up from a local branch of HSBC (if any remain open) to working front office in investment banking is almost impossible now – used to be quite routine in the 80s if you showed the right qualities.

Disclosure King

I left uni with a pointless/worthless degree and then started my career in law by working in the postroom of a well known London firm. I worked my way up and qualified not too long ago. I was very lucky as my firm funded my exams, which I did part-time. It tough with a lot of set backs. It was worth it though.

I accept that it’s an uncommon route these days but people still “work their way up”.

Australian Barrister

I did a double English degree (Literature & Linguistics) plus Drama, with French and German as minors, as well as a law degree (LLB). My Arts degree has been invaluable in my job as a barrister as well as giving me an excellent classical education and a very enjoyable time at uni. Arts degrees help you to think clearly and express yourself, as well as argue your point coherently. All great for advocacy. Your UK legal training system seems bizarre.


Clearly you aren’t familiar with our “bizarre” training system because someone with your exact educational background could also become a solicitor or barrister in the UK. In fact it’d be a very strong combination when applying.


New Labour’s legacy is university expansion (and the associated professionalisation of vocations such as nursing and policing), the selective application of the logic of globalisation and the seizure of the commanding heights of culture by Marxists and their useful idiots.

The net result is the abolition of the working class, probably by design. It cannot be a coincidence that so many civil servants and media worker bees are effete, booking middle class types who secretly despise the working class boys that made fun of them at school. That’s why BBC-sanctioned comedians are allowed to punch down at them and no one else.



Legal Cheek Deletes All Interesting Comments

The Like:Dislike ratio on OP’s comment, and the “What” comment made in reply, betray just how young/naive the readership of LC is these days.

What OP says is spot on. And even if one disagrees with it, it’s perfectly coherent. Only people too young to remember or at the very least appreciate New Labour could be confused.

LC has always been targeted at students, but it used to be read by real lawyers too. It’s now been several years since I heard a colleague mention this site.

Australian Barrister

I read it for fun when it’s the middle of the night and I’m sick of submissions. I’ve been a lawyer for 33 years, but not in the UK thank goodness.


Thanks Jeff

Steven & Spielberg LLP

In other news, water is wet.

Picking a fight for no reason…

Water itself is not wet, things saturated with it are wet.


The piece is too contradictory to take it serious.

The fact that he still has passion for film (based on his new featured film), supports the theory that some people choose to study degrees they like/enjoy and not based on potential earnings.

He’s basically burning the bridge he intends to walk across – talk about self sabotage.


How are law degrees not rip offs? How many pupillages and TCs are actually available to law graduates? In Media and Films you actually get unique skills, whereas in law you just get transferable skills that you can get from other degrees. Besides, the knowledge you get in law gets outdated pretty quickly and useless. Only valuable things I learnt from law are critical thinking, writing skills, and persuasive speech which you can get from most arts degrees like philosophy.


Going to be totally honest here, this sounds like less of an ‘arts degrees’ issue and more of a ‘went to a uni that wasn’t very good’ issue

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