It’s Not Too Late! Graduate Entry Law Courses in the UK
Many people think that to pursue a career in law, you should have studied it at an undergraduate level. However, if you wanted to explore other options during your undergraduate studies and now are committed to studying law, all is not lost. With two options for postgraduates, the UK serves as the perfect destination to study law outside of India.
GDL vs LLB:
When studying in the UK, you can choose between a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) – also known as the Common Professional Examination (CPE) – which takes a year to complete full time, or an LLB, which takes two years. Both these courses are fast-track courses, as in a short time period, they cover the seven core law subjects – contract law, criminal law, constitutional and administrative law, property law, EU law, law of torts and finally the law of equity and trusts – putting non-law graduates on an equal platform with those who studied law at the undergraduate level.
When making your choice, keep in mind that the GDL is a UK-specific qualification, whereas an LLB degree is recognised in other countries. However, if you choose to study a GDL, once you are done, you can convert your diploma into an LLB Hons degree by taking two supplementary modules to fulfil the required credits. Doing so means gaining knowledge in two more specialist legal subjects, a factor which will distinguish LLB students from GDL students in the UK.
Once you have made your decision between these two courses, the next step is to decide if you want to become a solicitor or a barrister. Solicitors need to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and then, after completing studies, secure a two-year training contract with a law firm. Barristers, on the other hand, have to opt for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and then get a one-year pupillage – a practical training stage that can start any time within five years of completing the BPTC.
LLB vs. GDL
There are multiple institutions in the UK that offer either the GDL or LLB. You can apply for these through the Common Application Board LawCabs (www.lawcabs.ac.uk) or through UCAS and the entry requirements are institution-specific. For example, a GDL from The University of Sheffield requires an IELTS score of 7.5 with at least a 7 in every component, along with an undergraduate degree with a minimum of 60 per cent or first class qualification from a reputable Indian institution. For an LLB, the University of Leicester requires an IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent, along with a bachelor’s degree from an Indian university with a first class qualification and an average of at least 60-75 percent, whereas the University of Sussex’s LLB requires a bachelor’s degree from a leading institution with an overall mark of at least 60 per cent or equivalent.
Why the UK?
The Bar Council of India recognises law degrees from 35 universities in the UK. So, if you have a degree from one of these universities and want to practise law in India, all you need to do is apply for registration to your State Bar Council, who then sends your application to The Bar Council of India. You will have to appear for an examination, which is conducted twice a year, and if you pass, you will be allowed to practice in India. Apart from this, British law is one of the oldest law systems in the world and many countries, mostly Commonwealth countries, use it as the basis for their own law systems, so a degree from the UK allows you to practice law in these countries. Alternately, if you choose to stay back in the UK, then you have can apply for a position in some of the leading law firms in the world.
With legal job markets becoming increasingly competitive globally, employers appreciate graduate-level lawyers as much as their undergraduate counterparts. The non-law backgrounds of postgraduate lawyers can give them maturity, a well-rounded outlook and transferable skills that make them appealing candidates. If you are considering a postgraduate degree read about the various funding options available in our blog post here or get in touch with us to know more about law degrees around the world.