Applying to law schools in the UK

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supersonicgirl
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Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:25 pm

Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby supersonicgirl » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:34 pm

I was wondering if anybody here is familiar with the application process for law school in the UK. I understand their system is very different from ours. I've recently graduated from my university with a Bachelors in Finance and a 3.98 GPA. I'm currently in the process of studying for the LSATs which I'll be taking this October... but I would very much like to attend law school and work/live in the UK. I am an American citizen but I was born in Europe and I believe I'm eligible for EU citizenship. So my questions are:
Does the UK have a standardized exam for law schools like we do with the LSATs?
Would I be able to apply with my finance degree?
Would I apply as an international student?
Do they require resumes/personal statements/recommendations?
Realistically, would I even be accepted to one of their better/best schools (I am aiming high)?

byunbee
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Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:12 pm

Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby byunbee » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:37 pm

supersonicgirl wrote:I was wondering if anybody here is familiar with the application process for law school in the UK. I understand their system is very different from ours. I've recently graduated from my university with a Bachelors in Finance and a 3.98 GPA. I'm currently in the process of studying for the LSATs which I'll be taking this October... but I would very much like to attend law school and work/live in the UK. I am an American citizen but I was born in Europe and I believe I'm eligible for EU citizenship. So my questions are:
Does the UK have a standardized exam for law schools like we do with the LSATs?
Would I be able to apply with my finance degree?
Would I apply as an international student?
Do they require resumes/personal statements/recommendations?
Realistically, would I even be accepted to one of their better/best schools (I am aiming high)?


I may be wrong, but I think you missed the boat on this. LL.B., which is the basic law degree in the UK, is a bachelor's degree.

Edit: Also, I don't think you really even need an LL.B. to practice law in the UK. My understanding is that many graduate from UG with a non-law degree and take what's called a "conversion course."

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EbonyEsq
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Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby EbonyEsq » Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:41 pm

supersonicgirl wrote:I was wondering if anybody here is familiar with the application process for law school in the UK. I understand their system is very different from ours. I've recently graduated from my university with a Bachelors in Finance and a 3.98 GPA. I'm currently in the process of studying for the LSATs which I'll be taking this October... but I would very much like to attend law school and work/live in the UK. I am an American citizen but I was born in Europe and I believe I'm eligible for EU citizenship. So my questions are:
Does the UK have a standardized exam for law schools like we do with the LSATs?
Would I be able to apply with my finance degree?
Would I apply as an international student?
Do they require resumes/personal statements/recommendations?
Realistically, would I even be accepted to one of their better/best schools (I am aiming high)?


1. The legal system in the UK is very different from the US. UK attorneys fall into either two distinct brackets - solictor (think law firm setting) or barrister (think trial lawyer with white wig arguing in court). There are two separate routes that one can take to be either, though, the barrister route is much more difficult and expensive of the two.

2. You can apply with your BSc degree and do one of either two things: a one year conversion course (called the Graduate Diploma of Law or CPE) or the two-year LLB senior status (offered at Oxford, Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, amongst the top law schools). You do not NEED an LLB to practice law in the UK. You can even practice with a GDL, followed by vocational training (whether as barrister or solicitor).


3. You can apply as an EU national if you hold an EU/UK passport. Contact your schools of interest for further information.


So you can do three things here:

1. LLB (3 yrs) + vocational training (Bar Professional Training Course for barrister or Legal Practice Course for solicitor, both 1 year) + apprenticeship (one year pupillage for barrister or two year training contract for solicitor).

2. Senior Status LLB (2 yrs) + vocational training (BPTC or LPC) + apprenticeship

3. GDL/CPE (one year) + vocational training + apprenticeship.


I am telling you right now that pupillage is EXTREMELY difficult to get even for UK/EU born nationals. Being a barrister, though more promising than a solicitor, is a difficult field to infiltrate. You have to be top-notch and make a name for yourself. Just warning you here.


Please let me know if you have further questions!

JCElks1
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Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:01 pm

Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby JCElks1 » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:41 pm

A lot of your questions have been answered by the poster right before me, but I just wanted to add my two cents in regarding your concerns about being accepted to the best law programmes in the UK.

My own experience comes from having done the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) in the UK, as I did not do law as an undergraduate (I did a degree in International Relations). In terms of the application for the GDL, which is what the overwhelming majority of non-law undergraduates do (it is commonly referred to as a 'law conversion course'), it is much, much less intensive than applying to US law schools. The most common places to study the GDL in the UK are either at the College of Law (which has numerous campuses throughout the UK, including two in London), or at BPP (in London). If you intend on pursuing the barrister route, which as the previous poster mentioned is exceptionally difficult, you may want to look at doing the GDL at City University (in London). In any case, you must apply for the GDL through the Central Applications Board (http://www.lawcabs.ac.uk/). If I recall correctly, you need to provide two letters of reference and need to complete a very brief statement of intention. It is worth noting that both the College of Law and BPP are private institutions, unlike all other UK universities, and while they have degree awarding powers, this financial incentive for them means that as long as you have decent undergraduate marks, you will be accepted. In my experience, I've never heard of anyone being denied entry to the GDL. There is no home-fee/international fee difference at CoL/BPP, everyone pays the same rate. This isn't true at City, where you will pay a bit more as an international student (even if you have EU citizenship, it is my understanding that you have to demonstrate that you have been resident in the EU for three years preceding the commencement of the course in order to qualify for 'home-fees'). On the GDL you will study seven core areas of law (Contract, Criminal, Land, Equity & Trusts, Tort, EC Law, and Public Law) and you will have to complete a brief Legal Method module. There are no electives to choose from at this stage.

Once you have completed the GDL (if you go down that route), you will need to either complete the LPC (if you want to become a solicitor) or the BPTC (if you want to become a barrister). You might want to look at the steps required to become a solicitor advocate, which is essentially a solicitor-barrister hybrid that is gaining in popularity (essentially, they are trained as solicitors but have rights of audience, which means they can represent clients in court). If you are concerned with the expense of completing the GDL and the LPC, one GREAT thing about the UK legal system is that you can get your future law firm to pay for your tuition fees for both the GDL and the LPC, and some will even give you a stipend for your years of study. It's a bit of an odd system, but once you complete the GDL and the LPC, you will have to do two years of on-the-job training, known as a training contract (you get paid for these years). Most law firms award training contracts two years in advance, but once you secure a training contract, most firms (certainly the large, international ones) will pay for your tuition fees. Thus, you enter into law school with a guaranteed job at the end of it, and your fees are paid.

If you want to go down the BPTC route, things are a bit different. After you do the GDL, you would go on to the BPTC. After that, you would do a one year pupillage with a barrister's chambers (also called a set). Gaining pupillage is exceptionally difficult. To give you an idea, each year in the whole of the UK only about 1500-1700 students enroll on the BPTC (only the best and the brightest, with the most outstanding 'extracurriculars', bother enrolling). Out of that pool, fewer than 500 ever gain pupillage. The year of pupillage is known to be incredibly rough--for starters you will be at your chamber's beck and call (working very long hours) and are likely to only be paid 10,000 pounds for the whole year. Some chambers offer more money for the pupillage year, but in my experience, it's usually people who have been very successful in another career and have then decided to become a barrister that manage to secure the pupillages that pay more. In any case, once you have done your pupillage year, you still need to secure tenancy at a set. If you do manage this, you truly start your career as a barrister. Technically, barristers are self-employed (even though they form chambers or sets, primarily to share costs and share clerks, etc) and thus what you earn is largely down to how good you are, and the reputation you create for yourself. In terms of paying for the GDL/BPTC, your best bet is to apply for a scholarship with one of the 4 Inns of Court (Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, Middle Temple or Inner Temple). However, chances of securing a scholarship to pay your fees are much lower than if you want to be a solicitor and find a law firm to pay.

You can find a lot of information about the different law firms and different chambers on http://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/ which is quite a comprehensive website. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask!

supersonicgirl
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Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby supersonicgirl » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:00 pm

Thank you so much for your insightful answers! I have some thinking to do now...
I have one last question:
If I decide to attend law school in the US, what job opportunities would I have in the UK? I would like to work for a law firm in either International Relations, copyright laws, insurance, or something finance related. It sounds like it would parallel the job of a solicitor but would the knowledge I would gain from a US law school get me a job there?

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EbonyEsq
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Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby EbonyEsq » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:18 pm

supersonicgirl wrote:Thank you so much for your insightful answers! I have some thinking to do now...
I have one last question:
If I decide to attend law school in the US, what job opportunities would I have in the UK? I would like to work for a law firm in either International Relations, copyright laws, insurance, or something finance related. It sounds like it would parallel the job of a solicitor but would the knowledge I would gain from a US law school get me a job there?


If you hold a JD you would then have to sit the QLTT exam to be qualified to practice as an attorney in the UK. It requires at least 5 years experience working as an associate/attorney in the USA though.

Honestly, it may be best you do your JD here, get hired by a US based internatonal firm that has offices in the UK or a UK based firm that has offices in the US (ie Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Allen & Overy) and then transfer to the UK.

At the end of the day, the JD carries more weight than the LLB. Good luck!

JCElks1
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Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby JCElks1 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:27 pm

EbonyEsq wrote:
Honestly, it may be best you do your JD here, get hired by a US based internatonal firm that has offices in the UK or a UK based firm that has offices in the US (ie Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Allen & Overy) and then transfer to the UK.

At the end of the day, the JD carries more weight than the LLB. Good luck!


I second that. I think it will be a lot easier for you to have a JD, work for an international firm, and get transferred to their London offices than to do the reverse!

supersonicgirl
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Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:25 pm

Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby supersonicgirl » Fri Aug 13, 2010 3:52 pm

JCElks1 wrote:
EbonyEsq wrote:
Honestly, it may be best you do your JD here, get hired by a US based internatonal firm that has offices in the UK or a UK based firm that has offices in the US (ie Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Allen & Overy) and then transfer to the UK.

At the end of the day, the JD carries more weight than the LLB. Good luck!


I second that. I think it will be a lot easier for you to have a JD, work for an international firm, and get transferred to their London offices than to do the reverse!


I was thinking along the same lines. Thank you both for your help :)

cbbg
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Re: Applying to law schools in the UK

Postby cbbg » Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:30 pm

Sorry for bumping this thread but it's related to a question I have. I'll start a new thread if required.

Basically, I'm wondering how transferable the GDL+LPC route is, in terms of working in the US.

My situation:
I received a non-law B.A. in the US. Now in the UK, I am considering obtaining a GDL and then completing the LPC, after which I would be eligible to train as a solicitor in the UK. Although I may practice as a solicitor in the UK initially, I would like to have the option to transfer to a US firm after the bar, without having to do the whole JD biz. I am eligible to work in both the US and the UK.

Can anyone here advise on the process, in terms of any additional qualifications required, etc.?

Presumably it would be easier to transfer between the UK and the US within a US-based firm, but it seems uncertain at this stage that I would work in a US-based firm in the UK.

Thanks for any help!




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