Routes in to law

This is a very rough summary of routes into Law: 

Into Law

Secondary Education

A lot of people have been sending me PMs with questions regarding applying for Law degrees, and most have asked the same questions. Therefore I figured it would maybe make more sense if a thread was made where successful Law applicants could share their knowledge on these points. Maybe one of you omnipotent moderators could make it sticky, to save people having to look through all the pages for it? Just a thought.

GCSE results

Law is increasingly hard to get into and in such a competitive climate, it is key to have a strong set of A* and A grades with the odd B grade. Although universities state that they only require a minimum of grade B in English language and AS level grades

Firstly, it is good to remember that when applying to universities it is the AS grades and A2 predictions that they look at. If you're starting your AS levels this September, don't make the mistake of not working because you have the opportunity to resit. A friend of mine did this and had to sit 11 exams in January whereas I only had to sit 2. So even if you do retake, it is the original grade obtained that they will see. As a result, work hard.

If you've found out your AS level results and are disappointed with the grades, whether to resit some of your modules is a dilemma to be considered carefully. If you resit modules from all your subjects then this can be off putting for universities because they have to rely solely on your predicted grades to decide whether to make you an offer, and some universities are now even requiring that grades are obtained at the first sitting. If your university is not one of these, then resitting the odd easier AS level module as opposed to relying on the more difficult A2 modules may be an option, but try to keep this to a minimum. Having to prepare for both AS level resits and your A2 level exams will make you stressed and reduce your performance.

A level subjects

It's true that universities prefer Law applicants to have taken "traditional" subjects, such as History, English, Geography etc however, it's all about balance. I have to be honest and say I'd try to choose at least 2 of the more traditional subjects, but if you love a "new" subject, then don't drop it just on the ground that universities wont like it. Recently, universities have taken a strong liking to those possible applicants offering a traditional essay based subject such as History/English alongside a science as it shows logical versatility. However, this is not entirely necessary to get into anywhere, whether it be Oxford or Brighton. Law A level seems to be a bit of a marmite subject. Universities either love the idea of applicants having a taste of law or either hate the idea of baby level knowledge as it becomes more in-depth and dense at undergraduate level. As regards to subjects like Sociology, Psychology and Business Studies universities tend to offer higher entry requirements when making an offer. Here, you can see how they don't hinder your application in the sense that they amount to total rejection, but it does me more work as they are regarded as soft. For example, both my friend and I applied to Nottingham to study law last year, I took English Literature, History and Politics and was required to get AAA whereas she was required to get A*AA in her A2's which were English literature, Sociology and Psychology. Ofcourse this could have been due to other factors such as her LNAT score or personal statement but it is most likely due to subject choice

Making your 5 choices

Don't just chase the league tables. Visit as many universities as you can and use your impressions as part of the criteria for your choices. A degree from Durham may look impressive on your CV, but if you hated living there, then you haven't made the most of three years of your life. Obviously prestige is a factor for consideration, but remember you'll be living in this place, so you have to make sure you look at non-academic factors. (UCAS course finder for LLBs starting in 2006)

Writing your personal statement

Universities will look at hundreds of applications when deciding who to make offers to, and this is your only opportunity to make an impression and demonstrate your individuality. Most Law students will say "I read the Times on a Tuesday to keep up with the law". You have to make yourself stand out. You have a limited amount of space with a PS and need to make it work in your favour. Looking at other people's personal statements can be useful, but if you more or less copy what they say, then you're not really showing universities what you personally have to offer. Statements should also show a good command of the English Language, with a clear and logical structure. Things I would recommend including: - Where your interest in Law stems from. - How you've developed your interest e.g. reading books, visiting court, work experience, mock trials. Develop on these - why did they inspire you? - Areas of Law that interest you in particular, and why. - Personal attributes - what are you like as a person? Why are you desirable for the university to make an offer to? - Any non legal work experience. Try to relate the skills used in this to prove your desirable attributes i.e. time management, coming to reasoned solutions, coping under pressure. - Any awards/certificates that aren't already included in your application. - Hobbies and interests. It's important to prove that you are well rounded. - A closing statement, most likely including why you want to attend university/achieve this degree, and what you would do with it.

Example Personal Statement written by Profesh.


The LNAT is an aptitude test used by universities to assess the ability of an applicant to study law. It is used due to the fact that there are no subject requirements to study law, and therefore if an applicant studying non-essay based subjects such as Physics, Maths and Chemistry applies for law, it enables them to see whether they harbour the correct skills to study a law degree. Primarily the LNAT tests for comprehension skills, interpretation, analysis, synthesis, induction and deduction. The LNAT is split into two sections. Section A consists of 12 extracts of argumentative texts and 42 multiple choice questions. Section B is to be done in 40 minutes and is an argumentative essay from a choice of around 5 or 6 questions/topics. Altogether the test lasts 2hours 15 minutes and is can be sat at the Pearson VUE driving centres. The test is on screen not on paper so a quick typing hand will be a plus on Section B.

Universities that require you to sit the LNAT are:

University of Birmingham

University of Bristol

Durham University

University of Glasgow

Nottingham University

University of Oxford

UCL (University College London); and

KCL (King's College London)

plus one Irish and one Spanish university

Exempting Degree or Non-Exempting Degree?

While there is a lot of talk about employers preferring one over the other, neither option is likely to hold you back. Generally, it is recommended that you take a non exempting degree if you think you're really going to enjoy it. Conversion courses typically last a year and are not easy: you should take this into account when making your decision. You don't have to do a related degree to do a conversion course.

Note: Exempting degrees are sometimes called qualifying degrees.

Law with [Something Else] Degrees

Many of these combined courses, particularly languages and other legal systems, are looked on favourably by employers; but they usually mean spending an extra year at university; and that means more student debt and a fair percentage of your friends will probably leave before your final year. Courses that involve taking a year abroad are generally hard to get onto as universities tend to only take a very select number of students. In many universities you initially apply to their standard 3-year course, then can only appear for the year abroad during your first year (i.e. after they've seen first-hand whether you're good enough). One thing to look out for with such combined degrees, especially 3-year courses, is that they may not be qualifying degrees.

Law-Specific Assistance on Selecting a University

A list of which universities will want certain grades. This is an excellent starting point if you know roughly what you'll be getting at A-level.
Universities preferred by employers

Solicitor or Barrister?

Generally, barristers are the people who stand up in court in front of a judge, while solicitors are those who work in offices, interacting with clients. It should be noted that there are *a lot* more solicitors than there are barristers in the UK. Barristers are typically self-employed and work in legal chambers, whilst solicitors can either deal with the general public (for example via an office on the high street) or can be corporate lawyers employed by major corporations.

Note: some large law firms are now starting to recruit their own in-house barristers.

For a more in depth analysis of the difference in the roles of Barristers and Solicitors, click here.

About the LPC and BPTC (Previously the BVC)

The LPC and the BVC last for one year. Both courses can be quite expensive to study and so it is recommended that you attempt to secure a training contract with an employer which will provide help paying for this. The best time to look is generally in the second year at university, or if you're in your final year of a non-law degree.

Note: In 2010 the BVC (Bar Vocational Course) was rebranded the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course).

About Pupillages

This is where you "shadow" a qualified barrister. These are *very* hard to come by as barristers don't like the idea of giving up their valuable time to educate you. However, you will be useful to them in some respects and places are available if you search hard enough.