CONVERTING TO LAW
Even if you’ve studied something other than Law at university, that doesn’t mean you can’t train to be a lawyer. In fact, about 30 per cent of new trainees are non-law graduates who then go on to take a conversion course. If you’re considering a move into Law read on to discover all about the Graduate Diploma in Law.
The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is also known as the Common Professional Examination (CPE) and is offered by over 30 institutions in the UK. The minimum entry requirement is a 2:2, but competition for places is fierce and you may find you need a 2:1 to be considered. It’s an intensive, one-year foundation course and once completed, you then progress to either the Legal Practice Course (LPC) if you want to be a solicitor, or to the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) if you want to be a barrister. Obviously, because it is only a year long GDL does not cover all the subjects covered by a three-year degree, but it does include:
- law of contract
- law of tort
- criminal law
- equity and the law of trusts
- land law
- public law
- EU law
Depending on where you are studying, your course may also include other subjects.
FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME?
You can study for the GDL either full-time or part-time and one of the factors you should consider when deciding which to choose is the cost. Fees currently range from £3,070 to £7,450, and you should budget for a further £6,000 to £9,000 for living expenses and rent. If you know you simply cannot afford that you may like to consider the part-time route, which entails study being spread over two years, which would give you the option of working part-time in order to ‘earn as you learn’. Also, if your paid work is relevant to the law it can help improve your chances when applying for full-time jobs. However, you need to be extremely disciplined in order not to let your study slip.
The full-time course lasts 36 weeks, with at least 32 weeks of tuition. You’ll be studying for at least 45 hours a week, so you need to be dedicated and prepared to put in a lot of work. Most people take the full-time option and there are currently 4,600 full-time places on offer. You could get a Career Development Loan to help with the costs, or other possible sources of funds include a means-tested bursary from one of the individual Inns of Court, or getting sponsorship from a firm of solicitors as part of a recruitment package.However, you need to be prepared well in advance for sponsorship as most firms recruit two years ahead.
HOW TO APPLY
If you think GDL is for you then take care over your application (applications for part-time courses are made via the individual institutions, for the full-time courses you must go through the Central Applications Board) for which you will have to produce a personal statement including the reasons why you have decided on a career in Law, and previous experience. This is an excellent opportunity for you to really consider whether you have the stamina, determination, and drive to make a success out of a career in Law. Finally, the GDL qualification is only valid for seven years, and if you haven’t gone on to do either the LPC or BVC after this time, your GDL will be invalid and you’ll have wasted all that effort and hard work.
Formore information on where you can study for the GDL go to the Law Society’s website at www.lawsociety.org.uk