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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by chicabonita, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    Hello, I've been recommended to contact you about a bit of career advice! I'm thinking of doing a postgrad qualification in law (either the GDL or an LLM, different providers seem to recommend different things) with a view to becoming a solicitor or a barrister from a non-law graduate starting position. I've been a teacher for 8 years and have other work experience prior to that. My lawyer friend says DON'T DO IT! I can't imagine ever teaching full-time again for a whole variety of reasons, so am I committing the same error as someone who says, "yeah, I wanted to spend more quality family time together so I thought I'd become a teacher"?
  2. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Don't know that I'm qualified to give career advice - but I am happy to share what I know.

    How do you think I might be able to help?
  3. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    Sorry, I got your name wrong! *embarrassed*

    I've always (since graduating) fancied going into Law. I did French and Politics, and after graduating I did apply for some contracts with conversion and training, but I got a job in Spain so I never followed them up. I'm currently working part time as I've a young child, but want to build up my hours as she grows up a bit and I honestly can't see myself working full-time in teaching again, it's made me ill twice. I've got some money and was wondering whether now is the time to do a graduate conversion course, followed by LPC or the barrister equivalent... and what I ought to consider before going for it?

    Also, the Uni of Wolverhampton says its LLM is suitable for those going on to the LPC after (you get preferential application) but the Open Uni says you should do an LLB if you want to be a solicitor, even though they offer an LLM as well. Otherwise, UWE's fees are quite a lot more... What do I need to look at wrt a course and its costs?

    Many thanks- I'm very grateful :)
  4. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Why is it that you want a career in law? What is it you hope to gain from such a career? Which areas of the country is it that you want to study? Are you aware of the highly competitive nature of getting funded for the vocational stage of training?

    If you go for the one year GDL or qualifying (<--that is REALLY important) LLM then you will need to make a choice, fairly rapidly, about which route you wish to go down and so knowing something about either is very useful.
  5. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    I think it'd have some of my favourite bits about teaching, like intellectual rigour, a balance of working with people and working independently, an element of helping people.

    I don't know whether an LLM or a GDL would be more useful. And I'm not really in a position to move so having done the course, I suppose I'd be at the mercy of the market locally. Would getting in now for some work experience help, do you think?
  6. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    That is because Wolverhampton's LLM is a CPE course and exempts you from the academic stage of training to become a solicitor or barrister and so you could progress to the LPC. As far as I can see, the LLM offered by the Open University is just a 'normal' LLM and so does not exempt you from the academic stage of training and so you would either need an LLB or pay to take the Common Professional Exams (this would involve significant extra study).

    The fee charged may not be indicative of anything other than the particular institution's pricing policy for certain courses. It is not necessarily a quality mark.
  7. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    Oh that's useful to know. Thank you.
  8. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Most (should really be all) GDLs would exempt you from the academic stage of training whereas you would need to be a bit more careful in relation to selecting an LLM.

    Work experience always helps and is essential for later job applications. Getting such experience can be tricky. You could try for publicised "vacation schemes" or "mini-pupillage" opportunities but these are quite competitive. If there are smaller regional firms of sets then I would suggest that you approach these. There are other schemes (such as the CAB volunteering scheme or the various PSU or VSU around the country) that will help you get work experience or you could even approach your local courts for some marshalling.
  9. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    As an aside, avoid marketing gimmicks unless they are meaningful. Wolves may offer 'preferential application' to their LPC but most Law Schools aren't 'full' when it comes to the LPC.
  10. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I'm afraid that I do not have the answers to your questions and cannot comment in any meaningful way on what it is you are asking me. In fact Crowbob is probably better placed to respond to your specific questions since he has experience of such courses.

    Your enquiry does appear vague to me from the outset. There is a great deal of difference between what a solicitor and barrister's job entails.

    Are you aware just how many aspirant solicitors and barristers there are around whose career has faltered because they are unable to get a place as a trainee solicitor or pupil barrister? Every year there is a new batch...

    Are you aware of just how expensive these courses are and that you will almost certainly have to self-fund? And are you aware how incredibly dense and difficult law is to study?

    Are you aware of how little a legal assistant / paralegal /trainee solicitor earns? Like under £20k?

    I have qualified via the CILEx route, which you may also want to consider. It's far more cost effective, means that you can work while acquiring the qualification and all roads lead to Rome these days. A big advantage is that employment can be secured first and the employer pays for the study. Many law graduates are now opting for the CILEx route in preference to the expense and uncertainty of the traditional routes.
  11. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    GL is the living example of why CILEx should not be side-lined (as it once was).
  12. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Nick Hanning is the living example of why CILEx should not be side-lined (as it once was).
  13. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Former Presidents of CILEx don't count :) you should be on all of the posters...
  14. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I think Mr Majrowski and Dr MIchalek are rather pleased he counted!
  15. Sarahmck86

    Sarahmck86 New commenter

    I'm wondering why OP wants to go into law if they want to spend more time with children. My friends who are lawyers work stupid hours
  16. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    The hours are indeed nuts, without the compensation of teachers' holidays.
  17. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    Is that true of all aspects of law/legal practice, though? Surely there are some people who manage to do fairly standard hours? I'm working part time at the moment and just can't see myself ever going back to work full time in teaching, so I'm looking around for something else to do. It doesn't need to pay megabucks (I certainly don't earn anywhere near £20K at the moment!) but provide some interest and satisfaction.

    Sarahmck86, I don't have any close friends working in the profession to see the hours they work. But I know the sort of hours needed for teaching. Yes the holidays are useful, but the terms are so intense and demanding that I'm not completely convinced the holidays make up for it. And the work itself, and the pressures are just over the top for me.

    My daughter's four. If I took four/five years to qualify she'd be 8-9 if/when I started work. Before then I'd still have the holidays I have now; I'm thinking of doing the work largely when she's at school.

    I realise, too, that solicitors and barristers do different jobs. I haven't considered which I'd want to do yet, because I'm at the start of considering this change. I imagine there are other things I could also do with a law qualification, advocacy or work for a union or the CAB or a political party.

    I'm just looking for ideas, really- what it's like, what to consider and so on.

    Oh, and I've heard about the problems getting training contracts, but you have to have faith in yourself as a candidate if you're looking to change career, don't you?
  18. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Yes you do. The problem you face though is that you probably:

    1) Are unable to move anywhere in the country to take up said position

    2) Cannot devote yourself 100% to your career at the expense other elements of your life. You have a child and certain commitments that being older bring. A 20 something is more likely to be able to.
  19. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    That is likely to make life more difficult.

    That's somewhat judgemental, Dy! There are plenty of people of people who manage both! [​IMG] Being an older candidate in law can be an advantage. Life experience is a positive attribute.

    I'm not trying to put you off. Just trying to encourage you to have realistic expectations. There is much to be said for securing the job first (and seeing if the expectations and reality match up) and letting the qualifications follow that.
  20. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    re the hours lawyers work, from people I know who are lawyers it varies enormously because so there are so many different settings where lawyers work. If you are in private practice in a law firm as a fee-earner then there's enormous pressure to get out the billable hours, and in the big City law firms they can literally work all night sometimes. But many lawyers are salaried employees in the law departments of big companies and public authorities. They may earn less but most of the time they're on 9-5 contracts same as other employees and only if some specific issue arises are long hours called for. (I don't mean they never work beyond 5.00pm, but there isn't the same culture of long hours as in private practice). I'm pretty certain the lawyers in my LA legal department don't regularly work 70 hours weeks!

    What I don't know though is whether you have to work in the high pressure/billable hours culture first before you can get salaried employment in industry or public authorities.

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