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Helen Insau, Insight Project: Pathways to Law: Do I Have to Be a Law Student?

Insight Project will be publishing a series of blogs over the coming weeks. The third week's blogs focus on pathways to a legal career.

This blog is written by Helen Insau, Insight Project Team Member

Pathways to Law: Do I Have to Be a Law Student?


'The truth is that I had always wanted to go to law school' (Elizabeth Wurtzel).

Indeed, this may be an obvious truth for some. However, different paths can be taken to enter a profession from university at the undergraduate level, and the law is no exception. This blog will focus on that premise and blossom onto coming into law from a non-law undergraduate degree and the benefits to the legal profession.

Firstly, an overview of the difference between the traditional and non-traditional path. The undergraduate law degree 3-4-year (LLB or JD Pathway) is completed in the traditional path, then the qualifying course of either a Bar course (BPC) for barrister enthusiasts or the Legal Practising Course (LPC) for the solicitor devotees. In the non-traditional path, non-law undergraduates, after completing the undergrad, embark on a conversion course- usually a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) a one-year full-time course. Then take the qualifying route of the BPC of LPC. In terms of both path's finance, for the GDL (from the law conversion onward), both paths cost the same following the course length discrepancy.

Some individuals dream of the traditional way to pursue an undergraduate law degree, then do the qualifying degree to be the lawyer of their dreams. However, for others, a career in law takes a different path; after completing another undergraduate degree, they are interested in. Then either the path to law is something they have always considered post the nonlaw undergrad, or– they realise suddenly- hark! Law. The truth is that the law is broad; there are many different topics covered, from finance in commercial law to geopolitical issues in environmental law.

The non-traditional path dwellers benefit the legal profession- by in their nature, being-broader thinking, more profound understanding individuals. For instance, someone coming with a finance degree, entering a commercial firm (once the conversion has been done), is a perfect fit due to wider knowledge of the field. Unsurprisingly from this, promotion of completing a non-law undergraduate degree before converting to law has increased. Why should it not? Not only are these individuals more mature (as the non-law undergrad individuals will be coming into law later in life, having more life experience). Learning law is more than just 'learning the law'; there are interpersonal negation skills can be furthered, better-written communication skills- such skills can be furthered from a core level, when having further knowledge from different degrees, allowing different way of thinking about a problem and working with people.

Overall, law is not only pursued in a unidimensional way. Similarly, plans can change; law undergraduates who dreamed of being a lawyer may go into the civil service, not take the LPC or BPC. In that token, coming into law from the non-traditional path is encouraged too; from all the points previously mentioned, is it not a sound option?

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