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Is it time for me to knock Law on the head?

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What are your mock exam revision tips?! Share them with our year 10 & 11 students! 19-11-2014
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    (Original post by LexiswasmyNexis)
    I had no meaningful legal work experience before I got on 5 vac schemes and wound up with multiple tc offers (as a non-law grad)


    I also have ABB at A-level and no A*s at GCSES.

    Conversely, I know those that have all of these things and still have got nowhere.

    I think it's the whole package. I had a year of commercial work experience where I managed people and resources (before uni). I also had several organisational ECs at uni and a practical dissertation (I did some consultancy).

    Added to that, I apparently interview well.

    My advice? Don't worry about one specific area- you have to sell yourself as one coherent package.

    This includes grades, legal or commercial experience, other positions of responsibility, and a real awareness of the profession.
    Thanks for the response, not at all sure why you got negged for that.

    I was wondering if you could be so kind as to give me some information and advice about vacation schemes. I believe I've got a fairly solid grasp of the route to becoming a solicitor from a non-law degree: GDL, LPC and a two year training contract, and I am under the impression work experience is fairly important, however I don't understand VC's at all.

    Firstly, do VC's only take place during the university holidays? And if so, what time is it sensible to pursue VC's? (future non-law graduate) As I said, I'm currently on a gap year and was wondering whether it was something I should be looking at currently, or whether I should be expecting to apply this autumn for VC's over Christmas.

    I presume it is also sensible to look into gaining more casual work experience with high street firms, separate from VC's where there isn't a formal application process... Would it be acceptable to call or email local high street firms and ask for the possibility of work experience, or is there a more structured way of going about this?

    My main issue is that I come from New Zealand and although my dad is a well-qualified accountant my family doesn't have any pedigree or experience in law, nor any links to those in the legal profession, and as such I cannot seek advice or direction from that sector of my life.

    Responses from anyone are very welcome, many thanks in advance. (Also if this the wrong place or thread for such a post, my apologies to the mods and I'd appreciate if it could be moved appropriately.)
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    (Original post by v3n0m06)
    So you're advising him to study a full law degree, again? Possibly the worst bit of advice I have ever seen on this forum - might as well wage your £30k tuition fees on Jordan becoming the next PM.
    I meant doing a postgrad law degree, not a 2nd LLB.

    EDIT: In hindsight, that came out wrong. I think I was replying to two threads at once... I did mean postgrad. :facepalm2:
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    (Original post by Rascacielos)
    I don't think a 2.2 is going to get you where you want to be, realistically. I think it would be worth investing the money in doing a 2nd law degree and doing better in it this time (you can do an accelerated course if you already have a degree, which will save you money).
    But the OP already has a postgrad law degree, so why would he need to do another one?

    OP, I had a similar experience to you - I have a 2:2 in law, and had depression during my degree as well. It was a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario - I wasn't sure if my depression caused me to not be interested in my degree and thus do badly, or if the fact I wasn't interested in my degree gave me depression. I did a lot of soul searching after I graduated and I decided that ultimately, I just don't like law enough to be willing to try for a training contract with a 2:2. I'm pursuing a completely different career now that I find fulfilling and am much happier with the direction I'm going. You really need to think long and hard about what you want out of life - it took me 2 and a half years after graduating to figure it out. However, if you're serious about law, I'd recommend you get as much work experience as you can to make sure it's really what you want, as well as beefing up your application. I've also just remembered that there is a corporate firm that accepts people with 2:2s for training contracts, if they are exceptional in other areas (I can't remember the name of it though, I'm afraid!)
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    (Original post by Norton1)
    It does count, obviously you look better if you have work experience. But from what I've read people have a lot of difficulty convincing legal recruiters that their skills are transferable from non-legal jobs. I think what lexiswasmynexis says is good; it's about the whole package and experience is only part of that.
    I'm not sure how to feel about this. I do get the "whole package" thing, but undergraduates will only very exceptionally have anything like "relevant experience". Otherwise, all we're doing is having a competition as to who can make up the least ridiculous reasons why working in Hollister or having been on a Duke of Edinburgh's camping trip is actually fantastic preparation for being a trainee. And even then, it wouldn't be a unique justification - you'd be stating why everyone with retail experience and bog-standard ECs has relevant experience; the only advantage would be that you'd be the one actually articulating best on everyone's behalf.

    I'd be much more ready to believe that a lot cutting takes the form of negative rather than positive filtering - academics etc all being equal, they'd look not for who has good work experience - but for who doesn't have any at all - and then eliminate them. Same with hobbies - if 100 candidates all have fairly same-y educational credentials, then the 20 who don't do anything or who (reading between the lines) sound like they view a lot of pornography in their spare time - will be the ones to get binned. Not because playing rugby instead of playing WoW makes you a better lawyer - but purely because there's nothing else to differentiate over, so that's as good a reason as any.

    Don't take my word for this, go and have a look at the training forum for rollonfriday.com.
    Don't read Traineesolicitor.com with any sharp objects or lengths of rope in the room.
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    (Original post by Rascacielos)
    I meant doing a postgrad law degree, not a 2nd LLB.

    EDIT: In hindsight, that came out wrong. I think I was replying to two threads at once... I did mean postgrad. :facepalm2:
    He already has an LLM?

    Regardless, I don't think another degree would help at all - the 2.2 Law degree and LLM would be on the application anyway, and even if he got a 2.1 in another subject, I don't think this would be looked at too favourably.
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    (Original post by Norton1)
    It does count, obviously you look better if you have work experience. But from what I've read people have a lot of difficulty convincing legal recruiters that their skills are transferable from non-legal jobs. I think what lexiswasmynexis says is good; it's about the whole package and experience is only part of that.

    Don't take my word for this, go and have a look at the training forum for rollonfriday.com.
    Convinced plenty of firms my part-time job at Tesco has transferrable skills, including MC - my experience is that they honestly couldn't give a **** what the job is, as long as you can demonstrate the competencies with examples arising from that job.

    Safe to say putting 'Mooting Society Rep' or 'Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro for Charity' won't impress any more (and i'd say in fact this will impress them less) than working a part-time, 'normal' job during your studies.
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    Dear OP, if it makes you feel better. I have a friend who graduated with a 2.2 two years ago with a law degree and her current job is serve alcohol in a bar.
    You should be proud you have a HR job on £22k!

    As for law, I'm pretty sure most of the firms require 2.1 in the degree to past the recruitment stage, the only way around it is to know someone who can push you through that loop.

    Also, my friend works for FSA and she said there are many law graduates working there providing legal advice to banks. Maybe you could apply for a job within your major bank that is more related to law.
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    I wouldn't bother with a 2.2. Try to make it in another field. However, if you still want to pursue the legal career, then try ILEX as advised before. Don't waste your money on the LPC.
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    (Original post by Clip)
    I'm not sure how to feel about this. I do get the "whole package" thing, but undergraduates will only very exceptionally have anything like "relevant experience". Otherwise, all we're doing is having a competition as to who can make up the least ridiculous reasons why working in Hollister or having been on a Duke of Edinburgh's camping trip is actually fantastic preparation for being a trainee. And even then, it wouldn't be a unique justification - you'd be stating why everyone with retail experience and bog-standard ECs has relevant experience; the only advantage would be that you'd be the one actually articulating best on everyone's behalf.

    I'd be much more ready to believe that a lot cutting takes the form of negative rather than positive filtering - academics etc all being equal, they'd look not for who has good work experience - but for who doesn't have any at all - and then eliminate them. Same with hobbies - if 100 candidates all have fairly same-y educational credentials, then the 20 who don't do anything or who (reading between the lines) sound like they view a lot of pornography in their spare time - will be the ones to get binned. Not because playing rugby instead of playing WoW makes you a better lawyer - but purely because there's nothing else to differentiate over, so that's as good a reason as any.


    Don't read Traineesolicitor.com with any sharp objects or lengths of rope in the room.

    (Original post by v3n0m06)
    Convinced plenty of firms my part-time job at Tesco has transferrable skills, including MC - my experience is that they honestly couldn't give a **** what the job is, as long as you can demonstrate the competencies with examples arising from that job.

    Safe to say putting 'Mooting Society Rep' or 'Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro for Charity' won't impress any more (and i'd say in fact this will impress them less) than working a part-time, 'normal' job during your studies.
    Sorry, I think I've not expressed myself particularly well. I'm obviously aware that you need to stretch your work experience to cover the questions asked; I once answered a question about perseverance by saying I needed it to be a cleaner.

    The way I meant to say it is that people who've had quite good jobs where they've been dealing with lawyers on a daily basis have struggled to convince legal recruiters that that job is in some way 'legal', and have not found it as advantageous to them as they expected. Probably advantageous, but not to the extent they hoped.

    I agree with Clip's point about the negative selection; if you get 400 applications then probably 100 of them will be pretty much indistinguishable on paper.
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    (Original post by UKiwi)
    Thanks for the response, not at all sure why you got negged for that.

    I was wondering if you could be so kind as to give me some information and advice about vacation schemes. I believe I've got a fairly solid grasp of the route to becoming a solicitor from a non-law degree: GDL, LPC and a two year training contract, and I am under the impression work experience is fairly important, however I don't understand VC's at all.

    Firstly, do VC's only take place during the university holidays? And if so, what time is it sensible to pursue VC's? (future non-law graduate) As I said, I'm currently on a gap year and was wondering whether it was something I should be looking at currently, or whether I should be expecting to apply this autumn for VC's over Christmas.

    I presume it is also sensible to look into gaining more casual work experience with high street firms, separate from VC's where there isn't a formal application process... Would it be acceptable to call or email local high street firms and ask for the possibility of work experience, or is there a more structured way of going about this?


    My main issue is that I come from New Zealand and although my dad is a well-qualified accountant my family doesn't have any pedigree or experience in law, nor any links to those in the legal profession, and as such I cannot seek advice or direction from that sector of my life.

    Responses from anyone are very welcome, many thanks in advance. (Also if this the wrong place or thread for such a post, my apologies to the mods and I'd appreciate if it could be moved appropriately.)
    Vacation Schemes usually run in the summer holidays although some do take place in the Easter and Winter break.

    Most applications close at the end of January, so you'd be looking at applying in the coming winter for next summer's round.

    They're advantageous because it gets you a better insight into the office and firm, and HR have a better period to get to know (and trust) you.

    Indeed, most firms that run them recruit heavily from their vac schemes (70%ish of the intake).
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    (Original post by Clip)
    I'm not sure how to feel about this. I do get the "whole package" thing, but undergraduates will only very exceptionally have anything like "relevant experience". Otherwise, all we're doing is having a competition as to who can make up the least ridiculous reasons why working in Hollister or having been on a Duke of Edinburgh's camping trip is actually fantastic preparation for being a trainee. And even then, it wouldn't be a unique justification - you'd be stating why everyone with retail experience and bog-standard ECs has relevant experience; the only advantage would be that you'd be the one actually articulating best on everyone's behalf.


    I'd be much more ready to believe that a lot cutting takes the form of negative rather than positive filtering - academics etc all being equal, they'd look not for who has good work experience - but for who doesn't have any at all - and then eliminate them. Same with hobbies - if 100 candidates all have fairly same-y educational credentials, then the 20 who don't do anything or who (reading between the lines) sound like they view a lot of pornography in their spare time - will be the ones to get binned. Not because playing rugby instead of playing WoW makes you a better lawyer - but purely because there's nothing else to differentiate over, so that's as good a reason as any.


    Don't read Traineesolicitor.com with any sharp objects or lengths of rope in the room.
    To an extent I think this is very true.

    However, I think the important point is not to just treat your college job or ECs as things to do to get you buy.

    You have to perform well, show progression and gain responsibility. Many can say they worked in Next or whatever for X years. How many can say that they became a staff trainer/specialist/supervisor etc?

    Same with ECs. Involvement with voluntary work is all good but it's rarer to have organised it or set up a body to actually do it (such a society or community group).
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    (Original post by LexiswasmyNexis)

    Same with ECs. Involvement with voluntary work is all good but it's rarer to have organised it or set up a body to actually do it (such a society or community group).
    That, definitely. Setting anything up yourself, be it a business selling stuff online or a new society at uni, always comes across as a lot more impressive as simply participating in something. Starting something from scratch brings in all those buzzwords like drive, organisational ability, ambition, entrepreneurship etc. Not that lawyers are in anyway entrepreneurs, but you know, it still sounds like an impressive characteristic...

    Also I'd add that it always helps to have an EC which is a bit unusual. Don't do something obscure just for the sake of it, but my impression is that recruiters have, say, a thousand odd apps to sift through, they interview a hundred - and with the best will in the world it can be difficult remembering, let alone choosing, candidate X over candidate Y. Therefore it's incumbent on you to stand out, and if you can't do that by being more charming or having a more impressive CV, then an entry on that CV which stands out because it's a bit different might make a difference, at app stage or in interview.

    Being a skydiving instructor is no better qualification for being a lawyer than working in Tesco, but if you had those two CVs in front of you, and they were equal academically, you'd probably fancy chatting to the daredevil more in an interview...
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    (Original post by boldofer)
    Also I'd add that it always helps to have an EC which is a bit unusual. Don't do something obscure just for the sake of it, but my impression is that recruiters have, say, a thousand odd apps to sift through, they interview a hundred - and with the best will in the world it can be difficult remembering, let alone choosing, candidate X over candidate Y. Therefore it's incumbent on you to stand out, and if you can't do that by being more charming or having a more impressive CV, then an entry on that CV which stands out because it's a bit different might make a difference, at app stage or in interview.

    Being a skydiving instructor is no better qualification for being a lawyer than working in Tesco, but if you had those two CVs in front of you, and they were equal academically, you'd probably fancy chatting to the daredevil more in an interview...
    I've had interviewers comment on: cooking pulled pork (one interviewer said in hundreds or thousands of applications he'd never seen that), the Song of Ice and Fire books, Don Quixote (all mentioned at the end of my CV on hobbies)... So they definitely remember things which are a little offbeat. If nothing else, it makes you seem like a person--not a robot.
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    (Original post by jjarvis)
    I've had interviewers comment on: cooking pulled pork (one interviewer said in hundreds or thousands of applications he'd never seen that), the Song of Ice and Fire books, Don Quixote (all mentioned at the end of my CV on hobbies)... So they definitely remember things which are a little offbeat. If nothing else, it makes you seem like a person--not a robot.
    You didn't say "there are no men like me, there's only me," did you?
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    (Original post by smp11)
    Hi,

    I'm due to study the LPC at the College of Law in September but I'm just wondering whether it's a really bad idea and I should knock it on the head. Here's my story, in bullet-point form for easy reading:

    - I got AAA in my A-Levels and chose to study Law at Cardiff. Going to Cardiff is a big regret of mine and I can only attribute it to a subconscious desire to stay near my home (I was a very young 17 when making my choices and was quite slow to mature emotionally).

    - First year at Cardiff went well academically, I got a very neat 64-65-66-67. I knew two people on the course from school and didn't really make friends with anyone else, and didn't bother with any societies etc, again something which I now massively regret, though I got on well with my flatmates.

    - Second and third years went terribly, aside from a 68 in Jurisprudence every other module was 2:2, ranging from 52 in Employment Law to 59 in Land Law. I decided at this point that I didn't really want to pursue Law and graduated without applying anywhere (legal or otherwise). Due to my lack of friends I became very down, bordering on depressed. I physically couldn't face going to an Evidence seminar at one point, such was the state my head was in. Work was a chore, I found no joy in any aspect of life, and spent my days mindlessly browsing the internet. It's little wonder that I got a 2:2.

    - looking back I'm genuinely angry with myself for wasting such an excellent opportunity as university. I am a 2:1 student any day of the week but recruiters will put my application in the bin simply because it says 2:2, and I can't blame anyone but myself for that.

    - I drifted from awful temp job to awful temp job until I decided to do a Masters in Public Law at Bristol, with the idea of possibly doing further study and becoming an academic if I found an area that interested me. Grades were much better (something like 64, 68, 69, 72 though I can't remember exactly). My dissertation though was poor (56, it was marked down for not being critical enough) so I ended up with just a pass rather than a merit or distinction.

    - after finishing the LLM I got a HR admin job in a major bank. I did the job for over a year before being promoted to a HR Advisor role in March 2011. This job earns me decent money (around £22k) but I don't generally enjoy it, and future progression doesn't look promising. It's purely telephony based and I would much rather deal with people face-to-face. That said, it is good experience, and relevant to a career in Law due to the Employment Law aspect. I spoke to a Careers Advisor at COL who said that this job would look genuinely impressive on my CV, though obviously not as valuable as legal experience itself.

    - in 2010 I applied for and got accepted on the LPC at COL. I have deferred it the last two years, and lately I've genuinely been considering doing it from this September. The way I see it, I have a profession waiting for me and I should grab it with both hands and take the plunge. I've also realised that what I mistook for a disinterest in Law was just disinterest in life which I have now sorted. I am genuinely interested by Law and would happily do it for the rest of my career.

    - yesterday I applied for a TC and Vacation Scheme at a regional firm and got a message back this morning saying they couldn't progress my application as it's company policy that only those with a 2:1 are recruited. I've then done some research online and it seems that the market is so bad that those with 2:2s are just throwing away £10,000 and might as well not bother.

    --------------------

    Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated. Am I being foolish in considering throwing away a decent job in the middle of a recession? Is there any chance of me securing a TC at a vaguely decent firm? Does the LLM and the work experience (albeit not legal experience) help?
    I'm not a law person. You should read the other advice on the thread for specifics.

    Having read these myself though it sounds very difficult to get anywhere much in law now in traditional terms. For one thing you're going to be up against all those young, 'A' type personalities with shining results who are hungry for all the jobs you want!

    I think that £22,000 right now and some security in the midst of a recession is good whatever your educational background. It buys you time to think and plan.

    You seem to be in a bit of a pattern in life which you say you have now addressed. Thats great. But make sure you are not secretly repeating yourself again. ie in a few years time you'll be writing how you regret not making more of your HR experience etc.

    Personally I would be looking at how to progress in my career. I'd look at professional short courses in HR with a view to applying for advancements in my career in future/applying to other more interesting work. I'd also be investigating jobs and careers that use the law rather than being a 'lawyer' ie. NGO orgnisations. Maybe you could take part in the secondment scheme some banks subscribe to where they lend you to an NGO organisation for a year.

    Instead of concentrating on subject specifics and the boredom of today's job make some five year plans in different areas (one of them can be in law in you want) Work backwards until you reach today. Start doing some research and fill in details. Have a good look at the plans and think about what you really want from a job and in life. What is most important to you... it varies from person to person and there is no right answer... salary? Status? Doing something that makes a difference? How interesting the work is? Independance? Long holidays/ability to travel? Security? etc etc We're all a mix of these but will prioritise them differently.

    Start actioning.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do

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    (Original post by Clip)
    You didn't say "there are no men like me, there's only me," did you?
    I did not, no. We did talk quite a bit about Tyrion, though.
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    Thanks for all the replies, it's certainly made for an interesting debate.

    My thoughts right now are that I should go all out on the TC and vacation scheme applications this summer and defer the LPC until 2013 so that (hopefully) I can go into it knowing I have a TC at the end of it.

    In response to a few of the points raised on the thread:

    - £22k is a decent salary, I have plenty to live on and also have a savings account and some shares in my company (I contribute £100 of my salary each month into shares). The poster who lives on £20k net as a student is living in a different universe!

    - in terms of my current job, it consists of providing HR advice over the phone to managers within the business. Although it's seen as quite high status (we give advice from everyone right up to director level and are seen as experts in our field) I see it as quite limiting, and I feel I have more to contribute than taking call after call and being measured on availability % like in a call centre. It's also quite repetitive - taking 10 calls in a day on stress-related absence can really grind you down. Whilst linear progression may be difficult there are good opportunities for development, I just don't know what I want to develop in.

    - as for the type of firm I'm going for, it wouldn't be the larger city firms, more like medium-sized regional firms. I had a phone interview for Ashfords last year but wasn't successful even though I thought it went well. That sort of firm would be ideal.

    - as for what I'm looking for, it's partly money (though this is by no means a big factor, I do feel like I'm earning less than I should be), partly status and feeling like I have achieved my potential (I currently feel like since my A-levels I have vastly underachieved) and partly feeling challenged and energised by my work and not having a feeling of dread on a Sunday evening.

    - I've had a variety of emotional problems over the years and these still aren't resolved. I was very slow to develop emotionally and was still very much a child when I went to university. I didn't throw myself into university and was on the outside looking in. This slow emotional development, along with the fact that I was painfully shy around the opposite sex, is the main reason why I have never had a girlfriend. This in turn leads to inevitable depression. The shyness has more or less gone, but I now find myself almost at 26, in a city where all of my friends have moved away/got married, living with people I don't like and with no opportunities to meet women (or indeed new friends). I feel trapped, and worse still, I feel too weak to change things. I would give anything to go back to being 18 and do everything differently. So you can see that the underachievement extends to my personal life too.

    -------------

    But anyway, enough ranting! I noticed a few people mentioned ILEX as a possible route into the profession and it is something I've looked at before. Could someone give me an idea of how the process would work and what steps I'd need to take? Do you need to be a paralegal first or do you do the ILEX course then apply for legal executive jobs?
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    I am in a similar position as in I don't have a TC at the mo and am questioning whether I should do the LPC next year without one.

    The conclusion I have come to is that it may not be that sensible to do a course which is so vocational as the LPC without securing a job at the end of it (taking into account the 2-year recruitment process by law firms), particularly as the LPC isn't cheap. Furthermore, why pay for it when a law firm will, and give you extra money besides?

    If you're really sure that law is the career for you, there are other opportunities, for example, paralegalling. It's obviously not the same as being a solicitor, but it can also sometimes help you to get a training contract. It does depend which firm you paralegal with, as some explicitly refuse to recruit from their paralegals (not entirely sure why not) but it is a great opportunity to show a firm that you can offer it a lot more than what your academic record shows. I have heard of the odd Cinderella story when it comes to paralegals, so that might be a good way to spend your year out.

    Good luck!
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    (Original post by kitze)
    I am in a similar position as in I don't have a TC at the mo and am questioning whether I should do the LPC next year without one.

    The conclusion I have come to is that it may not be that sensible to do a course which is so vocational as the LPC without securing a job at the end of it (taking into account the 2-year recruitment process by law firms), particularly as the LPC isn't cheap. Furthermore, why pay for it when a law firm will, and give you extra money besides?

    If you're really sure that law is the career for you, there are other opportunities, for example, paralegalling. It's obviously not the same as being a solicitor, but it can also sometimes help you to get a training contract. It does depend which firm you paralegal with, as some explicitly refuse to recruit from their paralegals (not entirely sure why not) but it is a great opportunity to show a firm that you can offer it a lot more than what your academic record shows. I have heard of the odd Cinderella story when it comes to paralegals, so that might be a good way to spend your year out.

    Good luck!
    This whole LPC without a TC thing:

    Sure, it's an expensive gamble, and I don't think it's that likely that you'll get your fees back. My take on it is this:

    You're not paying the law school just to sit in their lectures for half a year and further line their pockets via the vending machines. They're supposed to also help you get a job if you haven't already got one lined up. To this end, if you are going to law school without a TC, your primary concern should be how good their careers department is.

    If you have a TC and have a free choice of school, sure - go ahead and choose the one with that's in the coolest part of town, or has the best looking students (I've looked - and I think it's BPP Manchester), but if you haven't - then make the melonfarmers work to get your fees. Visit several times, speak to the students and find out what there real success rates are with getting TCs for students.

    I visited CoL last year, and I found their careers service to be exceptionally optimistic. They brought in a barrister who had come to law late as an impoverished single mother and mature student to give hope to the BPTC hopefuls, but anyone with half a brain could tell that she was an outrageous exception rather than the norm.

    BPP were a bit hot and cold. They seemed optimistic and played up their links with firms - it wasn't clear to me how receptive the firms that they were chummy with were to self-funders who hadn't been on their particular bespoke LPC. It would also concern me that they might be keen on advancing their LLB students at all costs. On the other hand, they did claim good numbers.

    Kaplans were a different kettle of fish, they were realists and had a positive plan for self-funders. I have also heard recruiters from firms mention the Kaplans head of careers by name. If I don't get a TC, I'd probably go there.

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