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2 Types of Law

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    I thought I would put this here as useful advice from some who has trained as a lawyer recently.
    The law has changed a lot in past 10 years. there are many more people training as lawyers than jobs that are available so I thought I would put down some personal notes.

    1) A levels - Don't stress to much about what you do but remember that law is subject with a lot of writing of letter construction of argument so at least one A level of a Humanity is a good sign. Also in the world of company law languages are a plus. Politics History ect all good. I would advise steering away from more unusual A levels unless you have solid base in others.

    2) Degree - Law or not. Really the most important thing here is the degree class you get without a 2.1 it will always be an uphill struggle this will continue even after you qualify. Do something you enjoy and are good at. The trouble with Law as a degree is it has certain areas you cant skip eg Land, Equity, Crime, Contract, Administrative, ect Studying it as an academic subject at Uni is a lot harder than doing it as part of the GDL. Yes doing law you save yourself a year but if you end up getting a 2.2 because you hated Land law it will cost you far more than that in the long run. Also when picking your modules think what will make you attractive and also what you find easy. I cant emphasise enough far better to get a 2.1 in something easy than a 2.2 in something hard.


    3) LPC - You can get onto an LPC course easily. They will be happy to take your money. Some Legal aid firms will get help form the government to pay for the LPC for their trainees but basically most are funded by corporate firms. Given the lack of training contracts about you could end up wasting your money.

    4) This is my final point and most important. Legal Aid is dead. Don't let anyone tell you different. Becoming a legal aid lawyer is a vocation in these days.

    The SRA regulates pay as can been seen from the quote below but Legal Aid firms are so pushed at moment they will often take you on as a paralegal for less than that before giving you the contract. This effectively means a 3 year training contract. Pretty much all legal aid firms will only be able to pay the minimum not the recommended.

    "Each year we stipulate two minimum salary levels—one for trainees working in Central London and another for trainees working elsewhere in England and Wales. Similarly, we specify two recommended salary levels. These figures are unchanged from those for the period 1 August 2010 to 31 July 2011.

    The minimum and recommended trainee salary levels for the 12-month period beginning 1 August 2011 are as follows:

    Central London

    Minimum salary – £18,590
    Recommended – £19,040
    Elsewhere in England and Wales

    Minimum salary – £16,650
    Recommended – £16,940"


    To compare the corporate world see Slaughter and May
    Salaries for our trainees as at 01 May 2011 are:
    first 12 months: £38,000
    second 12 months: £43,000
    on qualifying: £61,500

    You can see from this comparison there is a whole world of difference between the types of law. Don't get me wrong you are more likely to work at weekends at the Magic Circle Company firms but your hours and billing target are not likely to be much different form any other trainee. The legal aid firms are not being malicious but its the reality of today's economics. A partner at my old legal aid firm was on the same salary as a NQ Magic circle solicitor.

    There is also a massive difference between those taken on in legal aid and those in corporate law. If you are taken on in a magic crile after training then you can generally find a head hunter who will find something. Outside the world of finance its not worth it for head hunters to do it so the service is not there. A friend who was not taken in a criminal firm spent 3 years doing odd bits of locum before she found a position (She was perfectly good they just could not afford to take anyone on that year).

    I would also emphasise that it is far easier to move from the City firm to a smaller firm when you qualify than the other way around. You can take a pay hit but its very hard to get into the corporate world if you did not start there.

    I don't want to sound negative but those going into crime or legal aid need to know that the differences in the types of law nowadays are such they are hardly the same profession.
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    Good post.

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    Excellent post. Only thing I'd say is I think the GDL is potentially harder than an LLB. Having spoken to people who've done it, I think it's a lot more intense as you're thrown in the deep end from the start.
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    (Original post by Benjamin1989)
    Excellent post. Only thing I'd say is I think the GDL is potentially harder than an LLB. Having spoken to people who've done it, I think it's a lot more intense as you're thrown in the deep end from the start.
    Agreed. But I think the GDl sets you up better for the lpc.
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    While agreeing that that the GDL might be intense as I understand it the variation between studying as an academic subject in a law degree and doing as part of the GDL is significant mainly because you are dealing with university academics as opposed to those who are training you for the profession. Thus you can spend a long time writing essays about the rational for changes in the law in a degree whereas the GDL just teaches you the law. My point is this do law degree if you love the law (and by this I mean all the law not just the sexy crime and international law stuff) and why it is the way it is. The GDL will give the training you need to go to do the LPC and practice. A Law degree can be pretty dry in parts and as I said is prescriptive so you cant just dump the dull bits and do a different module. At least in the GDL the dull bits you do are only the necessary dull bits
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    (Original post by LexiswasmyNexis)
    Agreed. But I think the GDl sets you up better for the lpc.
    Definitely, I'm finding there's a perceptible difference between the people who did the GDL (so have contract and tort fresh in their mind) and the people in my group who did the LLB.

    Also, it probably makes the leap to dealing with such a large volume of work a lot easier.
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    Sounds interesting, but are you not missing out everything that isn't big boy City law or Katsouris & Kyriacou on the High Street?

    Surely it's not a case of if you're not representing Airbus, your only clients are two chavs getting a divorce. What about crimes and family that's not on Legal Aid? What about all the private client and boutique work? I wouldn't say that a lot of property or employment work is necessarily big boy stuff - but it's not necessarily high street either.

    Appreciate your input, but I'm just questioning if it's really as polar as all that.
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    (Original post by Toddler)
    While agreeing that that the GDL might be intense as I understand it the variation between studying as an academic subject in a law degree and doing as part of the GDL is significant mainly because you are dealing with university academics as opposed to those who are training you for the profession. Thus you can spend a long time writing essays about the rational for changes in the law in a degree whereas the GDL just teaches you the law. My point is this do law degree if you love the law (and by this I mean all the law not just the sexy crime and international law stuff) and why it is the way it is. The GDL will give the training you need to go to do the LPC and practice. A Law degree can be pretty dry in parts and as I said is prescriptive so you cant just dump the dull bits and do a different module. At least in the GDL the dull bits you do are only the necessary dull bits
    You know, something about your posts just don't ring true. How long have you actually been in the profession?
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    (Original post by hmaus)
    What Clip said.



    I agree. He can barely put a coherent sentence together.
    Misspelled rationale, why, he's no lawyer at all!
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    Chalks I'm not sure what you think does not ring true. This is advice mainly derived from discussion between myself and and a number of friends from University who have gone in different directions in the law. The thrust of our conversation was how tough it was to get into law today and how some of us would not have been able to. To answer your question I have been qualified for 8 years now. 5 in private practice 3 working for HMG and the last 2 working for an NGO in Geneva. My comments about the corporate sphere come from recent discussions with my old flatmate who was a solicitor at Slaughter and May and part of their interviewing panel for new trainees for a number of years.

    Clip I agree the situation is not quite as black and white as I have made out but I lack much experience with the boutique private practice.

    Regarding spelling it has never been my strong suit. Chalk that up to another thing to think about in the world of finance, better and earlier secretarial support. I spent my first 3 years practising without any.
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    Anecdotally I understand it isn't a great time to be going into a practice which relies heavily/solely on legal aid - but then I think most people who are anywhere near entering the profession are already aware of this.

    Where I'd take issue with the OP's post, as others kind of have done already, is the implication that there is nothing in between corporate work in EC2, and legal aid funded family/crime stuff.

    There are a host of mid-size to smaller firms across the country doing commercial work, conveyancing, pi, private client/estates etc etc

    Sure, it's not easy to get a job at ANY law firm right now, but it remains a diverse profession which will always need new lifeblood in a variety of different areas. Areas which can pay very handsomely, even if they don't measure up to the seven figure equity slice on offer (for a very few) in the MC.
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    Slightly of topic, what is the average salary for a uni graduate with any other degree?
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    HI Toddler,

    I come from a finance background; sales trader equities and short sterling.

    How much demand would you say there was for solicitors specialisng in financial markets with lots of practical experience ?

    Cheers
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    (Original post by Toddler)
    Chalks I'm not sure what you think does not ring true. This is advice mainly derived from discussion between myself and and a number of friends from University who have gone in different directions in the law. The thrust of our conversation was how tough it was to get into law today and how some of us would not have been able to. To answer your question I have been qualified for 8 years now. 5 in private practice 3 working for HMG and the last 2 working for an NGO in Geneva. My comments about the corporate sphere come from recent discussions with my old flatmate who was a solicitor at Slaughter and May and part of their interviewing panel for new trainees for a number of years.

    Clip I agree the situation is not quite as black and white as I have made out but I lack much experience with the boutique private practice.

    Regarding spelling it has never been my strong suit. Chalk that up to another thing to think about in the world of finance, better and earlier secretarial support. I spent my first 3 years practising without any.
    My scepticism is based on three things.

    First, your initial post really just strikes me as a regurgitation of much material already on this site namely that (a) good A-levels are important (b) study a subject at university that you think you'll be good at (c) the LPC is easy to get onto and (d) there is a big difference between legal aid work and City law. At the risk of belittling your contribution, I don't really see those points as being the world-weary wisdom of a seasoned practitioner.

    Secondly, the way you write doesn't suggest to me that you have been a lawyer for the last 8 years. I appreciate, however, that this is an internet forum and not a pleading and, as such, one needn't be too careful with spelling and grammar. That said, I don't think I or any of my peers would ever refer to a magic circle firm as a "company".

    Thirdly, you seem to suggest that the gap between small legal aid firms on the one hand, and large City firms on the other, is filled by "boutique private practice" whereas the reality is that the bulk of private practice lawyers probably operate in that space. Equally, to suggest that "you are more likely to work at weekends at the Magic Circle Company firms but your hours and billing target are not likely to be much different form any other trainee" is hardly an accurate picture of the different work pressures and demands throughout the profession.

    I'd be very interested to know how you managed to move from a legal aid firm to HMG and then, presumably, a very sought after in-house legal position overseas with an NGO? My apologies if I'm making groundless criticisms of a fellow professional but I stand by my original comment.
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    (Original post by chalks)
    ....
    Also 5 in private practice + 3 at HMG + 2 at an NGO =/= 8.
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    Would, say, an LLM in corporate law help you get into a magic circle TC ( you guys really seem to know your stuff)
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    (Original post by amirlad)
    Would, say, an LLM in corporate law help you get into a magic circle TC ( you guys really seem to know your stuff)
    No.
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    (Original post by Toddler)
    Chalks I'm not sure what you think does not ring true. This is advice mainly derived from discussion between myself and and a number of friends from University who have gone in different directions in the law. The thrust of our conversation was how tough it was to get into law today and how some of us would not have been able to. To answer your question I have been qualified for 8 years now. 5 in private practice 3 working for HMG and the last 2 working for an NGO in Geneva. My comments about the corporate sphere come from recent discussions with my old flatmate who was a solicitor at Slaughter and May and part of their interviewing panel for new trainees for a number of years.

    Clip I agree the situation is not quite as black and white as I have made out but I lack much experience with the boutique private practice.

    Regarding spelling it has never been my strong suit. Chalk that up to another thing to think about in the world of finance, better and earlier secretarial support. I spent my first 3 years practising without any.
    Doesn't that equal ten? J'saying.
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    Maybe 2 years of work did not require the OP to be legally qualified?
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    Sorry for not posting work has been hectic. To answer 2 years of training contract 8 qualified.

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