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MA in Law vs LLB Watch

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    Hi all,

    I've been accepted into various law programs in the UK and I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am an international student from Canada so I am unfamiliar with the reputations/quality of these programs.

    I've been accepted to the following schools:

    Bristol (MA in Law)
    Leeds (LLB)
    Kent (LLB)
    Birmingham (LLB)
    Sussex (LLB)
    Southampton (LLB)

    I'm leaning towards selecting the MA in Law program at the University of Bristol because not only is it a qualifying law degree but it is a postgraduate program, as opposed to the undergraduate LLB. I feel like this would be a better asset for that reason. Also, the University of Bristol has a better reputation than the other schools from what I've read.

    The problem I have is that not many people I have talked to have heard of the MA in Law program or knew it is a qualifying law degree. I really don't want the lack of awareness to impact my future job prospects. If that is the case, I'm thinking of doing LLB at Leeds, Birmingham, or Kent.

    I would really appreciate if someone could provide some insight on what course of action I should take.



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    (Original post by LawLad13)
    .

    Think you might be under a misapprehension what the Bristol course is. It's a Senior status law degree, a two year course only for graduates. It might be marked as an MA but it's not really any different from the Oxford/Cambridge Senior status degree which are BAs:

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/law/pgdegre...dy/ma-law.html
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    Think you might be under a misapprehension what the Bristol course is. It's a Senior status law degree, a two year course only for graduates. It might be marked as an MA but it's not really any different from the Oxford/Cambridge Senior status degree which are BAs:

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/law/pgdegre...dy/ma-law.html
    Thanks for the heads-up!
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    Think you might be under a misapprehension what the Bristol course is. It's a Senior status law degree, a two year course only for graduates. It might be marked as an MA but it's not really any different from the Oxford/Cambridge Senior status degree which are BAs:

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk/law/pgdegre...dy/ma-law.html

    Really....well that changes things. The only reason I held bristol in such high regard was because it seemed to be a higher level of study. So then, would you say it doesn't matter where I go out of my choices?
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    (Original post by Rick1)
    Really....well that changes things. The only reason I held bristol in such high regard was because it seemed to be a higher level of study. So then, would you say it doesn't matter where I go out of my choices?
    If you have an infinite amount of time then no. I would have thought that the fact you get a qualifying law degree in two years at Bristol rather than three years elsewhere would have been an advantage - presumably you're already in your 20s and want to get on with things?

    The MA at Bristol does have at least one 'masters level course'. Essentially you do the seven compulsory modules, which everyone who wants a QLD must study, four in 1st year and three in 2nd year. In 2nd year you get to choose one option which can be a course from the LLM. Even the seven compulsory modules have different designations to the same modules at undergraduate level, and are designated as postgraduate. So perhaps you are right and they teach, say, Land Law on the MA differently than they teach Land Law on the BA. But I'd be surprised if there was very much difference between them.

    Even if they're the same modules, I'd rate Bristol slightly higher than the other unis for law (just imo). And you save one year too...
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    (Original post by Forum User)
    If you have an infinite amount of time then no. I would have thought that the fact you get a qualifying law degree in two years at Bristol rather than three years elsewhere would have been an advantage - presumably you're already in your 20s and want to get on with things?

    The MA at Bristol does have at least one 'masters level course'. Essentially you do the seven compulsory modules, which everyone who wants a QLD must study, four in 1st year and three in 2nd year. In 2nd year you get to choose one option which can be a course from the LLM. Even the seven compulsory modules have different designations to the same modules at undergraduate level, and are designated as postgraduate. So perhaps you are right and they teach, say, Land Law on the MA differently than they teach Land Law on the BA. But I'd be surprised if there was very much difference between them.

    Even if they're the same modules, I'd rate Bristol slightly higher than the other unis for law (just imo). And you save one year too...

    I actually wouldn't be saving one year because the other LLB programs are senior status. They are 2 years as well.
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    (Original post by Rick1)
    Hi all,

    I've been accepted into various law programs in the UK and I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am an international student from Canada so I am unfamiliar with the reputations/quality of these programs.

    I've been accepted to the following schools:

    Bristol (MA in Law)
    Leeds (LLB)
    Kent (LLB)
    Birmingham (LLB)
    Sussex (LLB)
    Southampton (LLB)

    I'm leaning towards selecting the MA in Law program at the University of Bristol because not only is it a qualifying law degree but it is a postgraduate program, as opposed to the undergraduate LLB. I feel like this would be a better asset for that reason. Also, the University of Bristol has a better reputation than the other schools from what I've read.

    The problem I have is that not many people I have talked to have heard of the MA in Law program or knew it is a qualifying law degree. I really don't want the lack of awareness to impact my future job prospects. If that is the case, I'm thinking of doing LLB at Leeds, Birmingham, or Kent.

    I would really appreciate if someone could provide some insight on what course of action I should take.



    Hi there.

    I don't think it matters which one you choose. In the end, you'll be getting a law degree.

    I think it's best if you choose the one that you think will be most suitable for you. After all, all the ones you've chosen are good.

    Since you have already eliminated a few from your choices, you should start comparing between Leeds, Birmingham, and Kent and see which one you will benefit the most and be most comfortable with.
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    Hey, I'm not too familiar with the MA but isn't it only two years? I guess it all depends on the career direction you want to take...?
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    Hey! I was in the same dilemma and am also from Canada. I chose the MA in law after a lot of thought and speaking with the NCA and the Law Society of Upper Canada. I'm open to practicing in the UK, but wanted to make sure that I could still transfer it over if I decided to move back to Canada. The degree is recognized by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and that is what matters at the end of the day.
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    Yes it is definitely recognized and therefore transferable. I came to the same conclusion. I don't have any issues with that. But my problem is that I would be at a disadvantage finding positions for articling and employment.

    I spoke to a few foreign trained lawyers here in Canada and they advised me to pursue an LLB because it is more recognizable. Going back to Canada, we would be at a disadvantage with the MA because not many employers recognize it as a qualified law degree. They generally only know the LLB and JD for practicing law.
    This lack of awareness could negatively impact us because employers are looking for every screen to get rid of resumes off their desk in this saturated legal job market. They're not going to bother to do research to find out if it is a legitimate legal degree, especially because we are foreign trained and they prefer local grads.

    I am also open to practicing in the UK, and for that the MA is an excellent option, especially due to the prestige of the law program at Bristol. But I am just concerned that going back to Canada, my MA would count less than a LLB and give me even more difficulty on top of my "foreign-trained" status.

    Thoughts?
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    (Original post by Rick1)
    Yes it is definitely recognized and therefore transferable. I came to the same conclusion. I don't have any issues with that. But my problem is that I would be at a disadvantage finding positions for articling and employment.

    I spoke to a few foreign trained lawyers here in Canada and they advised me to pursue an LLB because it is more recognizable. Going back to Canada, we would be at a disadvantage with the MA because not many employers recognize it as a qualified law degree. They generally only know the LLB and JD for practicing law.
    This lack of awareness could negatively impact us because employers are looking for every screen to get rid of resumes off their desk in this saturated legal job market. They're not going to bother to do research to find out if it is a legitimate legal degree, especially because we are foreign trained and they prefer local grads.

    I am also open to practicing in the UK, and for that the MA is an excellent option, especially due to the prestige of the law program at Bristol. But I am just concerned that going back to Canada, my MA would count less than a LLB and give me even more difficulty on top of my "foreign-trained" status.

    Thoughts?
    Personally, I don't think you should be discouraged from going to Bristol solely based on the reason of fearing that law firms will not hire you. You have to understand that you will be studying there for the next two years and that it is important to choose the university that you feel would be the most compatible for you.

    Even though the lawyers you spoke to do not recommend it, I think you should ask yourself if that is really what you want. It is not easy deciding which one you want to go to, but I think you should see it from the perspective of the program and university itself than the recognition of the degree by law firms. As long as you are given accreditation from the NCA, you shouldn't have any problems, even if your law degree is an MA degree (versus an LLB or JD). If you use your logic based on the recognition of the MA degree, then you are suggesting that law firms won't be hiring Oxford graduates just because they receive a BA degree in law after they finish their program.
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    Of course Oxford's situation is different due to its international reputation. If you got a BA in Law from anywhere else it would be different. While Bristol is a good school, its reputation outside of the UK is not at the same level of recognition as Oxford or Cambridge.

    The legal job market in Canada is crazy tough, even to get articling position and I don't want there to be any bars to getting from the resume stage to the interview stage. There's already going to be the stigma of me being foreign trained. That's my thinking at least...
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    Hey, I totally understand where you're coming from but you're talking about lawyers and law firms here. These are people who will do homework on their end as well to find the best person for an articling position. Have you been to the solicitors regulation authority website? This is what law firms look at to ensure that you are legit. I have friends who have graduated from Canadian law firms and are having trouble finding jobs. It's all about making sure that you put in the leg work to make sure your application sticks out in comparison to someone else's. I feel that, that is what this degree will do. Again, I totally understand where you are coming from and I guess I came to the decision to go ahead with this route after giving it 6 months of thinking; which is why I'm a lot more comfortable with my decision. Many lawyers in Canada also find the foreign LLB easy to get into which is why the MA in law can actually put you at an advantage. No one here or another lawyer can tell you the right decision for you. I think it all depends from person to person.
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    (Original post by Rick1)
    Of course Oxford's situation is different due to its international reputation. If you got a BA in Law from anywhere else it would be different. While Bristol is a good school, its reputation outside of the UK is not at the same level of recognition as Oxford or Cambridge.

    The legal job market in Canada is crazy tough, even to get articling position and I don't want there to be any bars to getting from the resume stage to the interview stage. There's already going to be the stigma of me being foreign trained. That's my thinking at least...
    I think you are thinking too much. If you have the potential to do well, you shouldn't have any problems with being foreign trained. Just because there is a social stigma dealing with LLB graduates doesn't mean that you should be discouraged from doing the MA program.

    The reason why I'm saying this is because Oxford graduates are equally disadvantaged. Even if its reputation is good, they are still considered foreign trained and thus at the same level as those that have graduated from other universities. If you feel too uncomfortable about this, then I think you should refrain from LLB/MA programs and apply for a JD program.
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    I agree with you zero gravity. If you're going to be worried throughout your whole degree then you should try getting into a Canadian law school. But as I said LLB, JD or MA in law .... Everyone is having trouble landing articling positions.
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    Birmingham (LLB) would be the best. Go for it and have a bright future.
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    (Original post by Rick1)
    Hi all,

    I've been accepted into various law programs in the UK and I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am an international student from Canada so I am unfamiliar with the reputations/quality of these programs.

    I've been accepted to the following schools:

    Bristol (MA in Law)
    Leeds (LLB)
    Kent (LLB)
    Birmingham (LLB)
    Sussex (LLB)
    Southampton (LLB)

    I'm leaning towards selecting the MA in Law program at the University of Bristol because not only is it a qualifying law degree but it is a postgraduate program, as opposed to the undergraduate LLB. I feel like this would be a better asset for that reason. Also, the University of Bristol has a better reputation than the other schools from what I've read.

    The problem I have is that not many people I have talked to have heard of the MA in Law program or knew it is a qualifying law degree. I really don't want the lack of awareness to impact my future job prospects. If that is the case, I'm thinking of doing LLB at Leeds, Birmingham, or Kent.

    I would really appreciate if someone could provide some insight on what course of action I should take.



    Aside from the reputations of the universities, you need to consider how difficult it is to score highly on the respective programmes. Having graduated from the Bristol MA, I can tell you that nobody has achieved a distinction on the programme in the last three years and the minority received merits. It may be an MA and that may look good on the CV, but the course is harder* than the LLB because it has to be to satisfy the requirements to be a masters-level qualification. You cover more material, in more depth, are more harshly graded on individual pieces of work and those grades then aggregate in a manner less favourable to your overall degree classification.

    I would probably go for the Birmingham LLB, because it's one of the best law schools out of those options other than Bristol (Leeds and Southampton are also good), and the two years are weighted 30/70 or something like that. That means that, unlike on the Bristol MA, the steep learning curve in first year won't wreck your chances of getting a 1st overall.

    *I averaged 64.5% over my two years, and my personal tutor considered this equivalent to a very high 2.1 or possibly even a 1st on the LLB.
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    Hi there, I just graduated from the MA Law programme at Bristol and thought I could shed some light on this topic.

    While firms (and everyone else) generally considers the MA to be equivalent to the senior-status LLB, it actually is not. It is a qualifying law degree but all the courses are taught (and more importantly, graded) at a postgraduate level which means it's much more difficult to do well. We were specifically told by our professors that a piece of work that would have gotten a 1st on the LLB programme would only get a 65% on ours.

    Also, the grading system changed for the MA in 2010, requiring students to obtain distinctions (1st) in two-thirds of their subjects in order to graduate with a distinction overall. (This is a considerably more onerous requirement compared to the LLB students, who need either an average of at least 70%, or 1sts in half their subjects with an average of at least 68.5%.) Since this requirement has been introduced, no student has obtained a distinction qualification. Mind you, our course was filled with people who received 1st class classifications from universities like UCL, Oxford, Stanford etc. So definitely take a look at the statistics for how many firsts, 2:1s, 2:2s etc are awarded from each of the programmes you're considering.

    From your list, I think Leeds is probably your best bet.
 
 
 
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