These are answered based on my own experiences and opinions and should not be considered prescriptive.
- How long does it take to get a training contract?
- Should I do the GDL self-funded?
- Should I do the LPC without first securing a training contract?
- Which GDL/LPC provider is the best?
- What grades do I need?
Of course, if you have any other questions, feel free to contact me!
How long does it take to get a training contract?
Not everyone will get a training contract! There are far more law students than there are spots at law firms. While the competition is stiff, perseverance and grit will get you a long way. As they say, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish. The time will pass anyway.” My own timeline looked like this:
- December 2010: Graduated with my Bachelors Degree
- January – August 2011: worked at the US Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service as a Tax Clerk
- September 2011: Moved to London
- September 2012: Graduated with my Masters Degree
- January 2013: Started the GDL
- May – July 2013: Applied for training contracts (not successful)
- August 2013: GDL exams
- October 2013: Returned to USA for long holiday
- November – December 2013: Applied for vacation schemes (successful)
- February 2014: Returned to UK
- March 2014: Vacation schemes; started work at an international law firm
- May – July 2014: Applied for training contracts
- August 2014: Interviews for training contracts
- January 2015: Paralegal job at the firm that offered me a training contract
- September 2015: Started LPC LL.M.
- September 2016: Training contract will begin!
Should I do the GDL self-funded?
I paid for the GDL myself, but without doing proper research beforehand. Coming from the United States, where lawyers complete four years of (any) undergraduate degree and three years of law school, I didn’t really understand the application process involved – we don’t have training contracts in the US. I knew plenty of people on the GDL who had yet to secure training contracts. It’s definitely a good investment if you’re prepared to work really hard and accept the fact that you may not get a training contract (or even a vacation scheme!) during your first round of applications.
Should I do the LPC without first securing a training contract?
I waited until I had a training contract in the bag before doing the LPC. As my law firm has only recently decided to sponsor the LPC (from 2016 onwards) I’m self-funding, but at least I know I have a job waiting for me when I graduate. I couldn’t imagine doing the LPC – which is such a specific course – without knowing for sure that I’d lined up a training contract afterwards.
Which GDL/LPC provider is the best?
I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t really matter at all, as long as you do well in your exams.
I did the GDL at The
College University of Law in central London, and met some really lovely, intelligent people. The course the acceleratedJanuary-start option, so it was really tough going at times. The professors were (for the most part) helpful. The careers service was hit-or-miss depending on the advisor. It seemed like a bit of a City Factory with most students vying for (or heading off to) training contracts with the Magic Circle – definitely not my style. However, the programme “does what it says on the tin.”
I’ve chosen to go to City Law School for my LPC for a number of reasons. Firstly, I lean towards the academic and prefer being at a more established, recognised institution – I like the idea of being at a larger university where people do other degrees in addition to postgraduate law programmes. It’s also recognised by the United States Department of Education, which means I was eligible to get a US loan as a student at City (unlike UoL or BPP). It was also about £1k less expensive than UoL or BPP. Thirdly, I think I may want to earn my PhD after practicing law for several years. City has a good LL.M. programme which you can do in conjunction with your LPC. I felt that City was more about developing you as an individual professional, rather than just churning out yet another corporate lawyer. Again: personal preference. All LPC providers have to adhere to the same standards and teaching subjects.
What grades do I need?
I’ve not met anyone with a training contract who didn’t have <i>at least</i> a 2.1 (3.5GPA) from their undergraduate degrees. I had a first (3.9GPA) in my Bachelors, coupled with a merit from my masters degree, and I still found that my grades from high school (age 16!) were being scrutinised during some of the interviews. I think it’s a bit silly to fixate on academic marks from high school or even your first year or so of uni, but when you have an outstanding group of candidates, how else can you narrow it down?
However, I’d say that people with great grades, work experience, and nice personalities will always fare better than those people with absolutely-perfect-wonderful grades and nothing else. Also, I had to take a medical leave of absence in my first year of uni, which was a mitigating circumstance. Because that was back in 2007 and I explained the situation very well in interview, it was never even an issue. So if you have a “black mark” on your academic record, it’s not the end of the world.
To be answered soon:
I only want to specialise in XYZ practice area. Should I even bother applying to a firm that doesn’t have this?
I didn’t go to school/university in the UK – how do I convert my grades?
I need a UK work visa. Will a law firm give me one?