The biggest GDL provider outside London runs a well-regarded course that students suggest has “more face time with tutors and lecturers” than of the other large law schools. Students value Nottingham Law School’s (NLS) “really helpful” careers service as well as the abundant “first rate” pro bono opportunities “at all levels, with the staff and facilities to support them”.
There’s a strong focus on the acquisition of practical skills, with NLS boasting its very own student-led law clinic, or what some might call the first ever ‘teaching law firm’. It offers both pro bono and commercial legal advice services and acts as a vehicle for law students to gain practical work experience. Students work under the wings of qualified solicitors who impart the legal advice. The “excellent pro bono opportunities” don’t end there – NLS is also “the only place to volunteer with FRU, the Free Representation Unit, outside London”.
This is good news for law students worried that studying outside of the City may bring them fewer opportunities. It’s cheaper to do the GDL at NLS too. The “relatively low fees” make this school “a bargain” (relatively speaking). That’s not to say they haven’t splashed the cash on facilities as they have recently refurbed. With 7,000 computer stations, a £13 million library and available mock courtrooms you’ll probably find the study areas quite comfortable (though you should be prepared to, “battle with the undergrads for spaces”). There’s no canteen but that doesn’t bother one insider who wonders who needs such a thing “when you have Chunky Chicken”.
Whilst many recommend the “teaching quality”, others highlight a common problem for GDLers who have to work and study at the same time: teachers don’t – or perhaps can’t – make allowances for that fact. One student writes: “Many of my peers felt that the teachers at NLS did not care that many students were trying to balance applying for a training contract or vacation scheme whilst studying the GDL”. Another hopes for greater empathy skills: “For the difficult position many students were in, some trying to balance having a job, applying for TC’s and the demanding course”.
The GDL course at NLS is perhaps more demanding than elsewhere because it is structured differently: “For instance, at NLS we had to sit a 3 hour EU exam whereas at other law schools, students sit a multiple choice exam,” reports one recent graduate. This may, however, be the perfect preparation for a submission to the school’s Nottingham Law Journal – a collection of articles on contemporary legal issues. Published annually, this is an opportunity for star law students to build a shining CV and really show off their writing and research skills.