permeable
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I am 17 years old from the west midlands and I'm in year 12 of sixth form, I really want to know more about studying law at Uni but I have so many questions.

People seem to know what they want to do for their careers around me and I know for a certain that I cannot be the only one that really doesn't know. I have one subject I really enjoy which is (a-level) History, and then my other two subjects which I also like in Psychology and Business. Law to me seems to be the logical next move for the best chance at a well-rewarded career.

At the moment I have one major worry,

Does it really matter about getting into the Russel Group universities for law? Could not going to one of these top Law uni's mean I will come out of Uni with significant debt and no hope of a job that utilises the law degree?
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Meglou03
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To become a solicitor, barrister etc you don’t have to take a law degree, it just means an extra year doing to crucial law parts, you could take a degree in history and go down that route or the solicitor barrister route. It’s not 100% “you have to go to a top law uni” because as long as you have good grades that’s all that matters however with law it not necessarily about what you know but who you know so doing a law degree may give you contacts and people high up the imaginary law podium. I’m not sure about other careers (apart from solicitor or barrister ) with a law degree however most likely a law degree looks perfect.
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ANDREGEM2020
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I am currently in my final year of a psychology degree, and I would strongly advise against studying it. It is a rather useless degree. Universities try to charm you into believing that you will become a psychologist, however as it is a protected title you can only use it after having completed a Doctorate or a PhD. Effectively, with a BSc Psychology you cannot do anything, aside from pursuing further education. If you want to pursue a career in clinical psychology, that's great, however please remember it is very competitive and you need to complete a BSc, an MSc, then a year or two years of experience as an assistant psychologist (which is either unpaid, or at a minimum wage), before you have a realistic chance of getting into a doctorate programme, which is paid for and you get a salary.

Also with business, I have a CertHE (completed first year of business studies before enrolling into psychology) and that was a waste of my time. Yes, I have gained some transferable skills, but on the whole it wasn't something that I'd recommend.

Remember that there are thousands of students applying and studying business and psychology, it really is a rather mediocre degree to have. This is unless you have a career path planned and you know which degrees to take on.

I would recommend law over both of these, it is much more of a vocational course and although you are not a lawyer (solicitor, barrister) after graduating, it leads to far better opportunities.
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permeable
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(Original post by Meglou03)
To become a solicitor, barrister etc you don’t have to take a law degree, it just means an extra year doing to crucial law parts, you could take a degree in history and go down that route or the solicitor barrister route. It’s not 100% “you have to go to a top law uni” because as long as you have good grades that’s all that matters however with law it not necessarily about what you know but who you know so doing a law degree may give you contacts and people high up the imaginary law podium. I’m not sure about other careers (apart from solicitor or barrister ) with a law degree however most likely a law degree looks perfect.
Oh ok, I thought that you had to get a degree in law to become a solicitor or barrister if thats not the case then I shall look into the other routes into those professions , thanks for replying
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permeable
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(Original post by ANDREGEM2020)
I am currently in my final year of a psychology degree, and I would strongly advise against studying it. It is a rather useless degree. Universities try to charm you into believing that you will become a psychologist, however as it is a protected title you can only use it after having completed a Doctorate or a PhD. Effectively, with a BSc Psychology you cannot do anything, aside from pursuing further education. If you want to pursue a career in clinical psychology, that's great, however please remember it is very competitive and you need to complete a BSc, an MSc, then a year or two years of experience as an assistant psychologist (which is either unpaid, or at a minimum wage), before you have a realistic chance of getting into a doctorate programme, which is paid for and you get a salary.

Also with business, I have a CertHE (completed first year of business studies before enrolling into psychology) and that was a waste of my time. Yes, I have gained some transferable skills, but on the whole it wasn't something that I'd recommend.

Remember that there are thousands of students applying and studying business and psychology, it really is a rather mediocre degree to have. This is unless you have a career path planned and you know which degrees to take on.

I would recommend law over both of these, it is much more of a vocational course and although you are not a lawyer (solicitor, barrister) after graduating, it leads to far better opportunities.
I would never consider doing psychology at degree level as whilst it is interesting I am making my choice or trying to make my choice based on where it leads me in the future, and whilst psychology does interest me, it doesnt interest me enough that I would pursue a career in it. As for business I also find this to be a good subject, I think its certainly useful but again I don't think I would want to take it any further than A-Level. Thanks for your reply though as that has cleared things up for as I was hoping Law would give good oppurtunities, thanks for replying
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PetitePanda
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I'm also a year 12 so I'm not quite an credible source but hopefully this helps you. It's totally normal to not know what you want to do as a job but it's great that you're thinking about it and you are considering law as a degree you could possibly do. Law might be a well-rewarded career for you but there's a difference learning it academically and practicing as a qualifying lawyer; this means even if you might not like law as a degree (as it's a bit daunting), you can still be a qualified lawyer with another degree like History, if you wish to do it as a degree after some exposure to it. Also, you have to think about what you could be in the legal section, which predominantly solicitor and barrister: if you want to be a solicitor, theres a new exam where any degree is qualified without GDL anymore, expect Law will help you with the SQE1 part but you can still learn it without a law degree; if you want to be a barrister, you would need to do a GDL if you dont do a qualifying law degree and there's many things you have consider in becoming a barrister, which i suggest researching if you wish to pursue it.

Tbh not really because as long as you get a first/2:1 that'll be alright; the reason why prestige is such a key factor when students apply for it because of the university's connections and opportunities that are available to them, in order to strengthen your application. Your degree grades only gets you through the step of the door, if you get what i mean; it's more about your overall application so experience and what you've done during your time at uni and after is what gets you a training contract or pupillage or job - this is why those, who be a paralegal for a bit, have more of a chance securing a pupillage. Even if you dont go to these top unis for law you mention, you can still be able to get a job in the legal section but you still have to consider the fact its over saturated so expect it might be difficult. However, you can still do other jobs with a law degree; you'll have a good advantage of getting a job because like you'll have a lot of options since you have a degree to your name.
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permeable
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(Original post by PetitePanda)
I'm also a year 12 so I'm not quite an credible source but hopefully this helps you. It's totally normal to not know what you want to do as a job but it's great that you're thinking about it and you are considering law as a degree you could possibly do. Law might be a well-rewarded career for you but there's a difference learning it academically and practicing as a qualifying lawyer; this means even if you might not like law as a degree (as it's a bit daunting), you can still be a qualified lawyer with another degree like History, if you wish to do it as a degree after some exposure to it. Also, you have to think about what you could be in the legal section, which predominantly solicitor and barrister: if you want to be a solicitor, theres a new exam where any degree is qualified without GDL anymore, expect Law will help you with the SQE1 part but you can still learn it without a law degree; if you want to be a barrister, you would need to do a GDL if you dont do a qualifying law degree and there's many things you have consider in becoming a barrister, which i suggest researching if you wish to pursue it.

Tbh not really because as long as you get a first/2:1 that'll be alright; the reason why prestige is such a key factor when students apply for it because of the university's connections and opportunities that are available to them, in order to strengthen your application. Your degree grades only gets you through the step of the door, if you get what i mean; it's more about your overall application so experience and what you've done during your time at uni and after is what gets you a training contract or pupillage or job - this is why those, who be a paralegal for a bit, have more of a chance securing a pupillage. Even if you dont go to these top unis for law you mention, you can still be able to get a job in the legal section but you still have to consider the fact its over saturated so expect it might be difficult. However, you can still do other jobs with a law degree; you'll have a good advantage of getting a job because like you'll have a lot of options since you have a degree to your name.
Wow that is very good to know, I am really impressed with how much you know about this if your also in year 12 as I didnt know most of this, I will definetely look into how the exams work now for it and the "SQE1" and "GDL" so I know more, thanks for replying
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PetitePanda
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(Original post by permeable)
Wow that is very good to know, I am really impressed with how much you know about this if your also in year 12 as I didnt know most of this, I will definetely look into how the exams work now for it and the "SQE1" and "GDL" so I know more, thanks for replying
Oh I wanted to research if I wanted to study law too before I made all my decisions in yr 12 (e.g what a levels I should do; things to do for my ps) as I don’t like being uncertain about things. SQE1 is a part of the SQE - like it’s the first stage. It goes Degree, SQE1, placement, SQE2 then I’m not too sure if you need more experience or you become qualified after this.
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17Student17
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Lots of good advice above. I am a lawyer and it is really interesting well paid career. I read law at university but my daughters who didn't converted after (although that does/did mean you have to study an extra law whether that is for the new SQE1 exam or currently the GDL).

Go to the best university you can and try to get good A level results - a lot of the best firms will want AAB in good subjects and a 2/1 in your degree (history degree probably in your case or law degree - I loved my law degree by the way but half lawyers do not read law so is up to you). Also look at lists of where newly hired trainee lawyers went to university to get an idea of which universities seem to improve your chances.
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giella
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The obsession with the Russell Group on this website is ridiculous. They’re a self declared research group, that’s all. There’s plenty of excellent universities outside of the Russell Group who will give you a first class education.

What law firms are looking for is consistency in grades. A steady progression from ABB+ through to 2.1+ in addition to solid work experience in law will take you in the right direction for a law career.

You can also study apprenticeships in law to become a solicitor and many people do this as an alternative route into the profession. They’re highly competitive but worth it if becoming a solicitor is your end game.

Psychology or law can also be studied as conversion courses to meet the minimum requirements for legal training. If you wanted to study history first, you could.

Several universities offer the opportunity to study law in combination with another subject, which is a great opportunity as well, one I would encourage anyone to consider as you get two degrees in one. You can also study law with a placement year. I would encourage you to consider both options.
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Joleee
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i think the reason you prefer history over law is because you haven't studied law yet. do you like politics, philosophy and sociology? are you interested in knowing how law gets made, the evolution of law in society and who holds actual power?

not saying don't do history, but before you commit yourself to three years and thousands of pounds, i would go down to your local bookshop and open a book on law or legal textbook. see if any of it interests you and if you can see yourself doing it.

you need to go to the best uni you can, independent of your degree. if you're worried about getting a law degree from a non-RG or lower ranked uni, you should have the same worry with a history degree. not saying that to make you worried; just trying to put things in perceptive
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harrysbar
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(Original post by giella)
The obsession with the Russell Group on this website is ridiculous. They’re a self declared research group, that’s all.
Yes and No....They are self selected but can only be part of that group because they are research intensive unis and a large percentage of that research has been judged to be of an excellent standard.

It's not like any uni could produce that same amount and quality of research and call themselves Russell Group or they would all be doing it :confused:

However, I do agree that people are overly obsessed by the RG label not just on TSR but in schools also
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yotsr123
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Does it really matter about getting into the Russel Group universities for law? Could not going to one of these top Law uni's mean I will come out of Uni with significant debt and no hope of a job that utilises the law degree?

Hi I'm going to be studying law at university and I did my research before picking this course so I'll answer these questions.

Does it matter about getting into RG unis for law?
Yes if you want to work in the magic circle, these are the TOP law firms (with the nice salaries ). It doesn't matter what university you go to for any other law firm, but going to a good university certainly makes the employer look over your application a little longer. HOWEVER, I want to stress that going to a good uni, at best, only gets your foot in the door. I would stress that doing lots of work experience, extra curriculars, acing your interviews etc is far, far more valuable - it will seperate you from the rest of the competition.

Could not going to one of these top Law uni's mean I will come out of Uni with significant debt and no hope of a job that utilises the law degree?
Again, going to a top law uni is a small, almost insignificant piece of the puzzle. You need to be able to show the employer that you have a vast array of skills that will fit their firm. You could be a cambridge graduate... but if you haven't done anything outside of studying throughout your law degree, haven't networked, no skills, haven't taken apart in anything, and can't even speak in the interview... you will not be getting the job. A cambridge graduate certainly gets looked at a little longer because of the ''brand'' but the skills are what is going to get you the job. This goes for any degree, really. Any more questions just ask.
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17Student17
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Yes, "yots" is right. You need a good university , high grades and all those other features too.

There are also two legal careers in a sense - high paid and veyr low paid and you need to be careful not to end up in the low paid end if money matters to you. You increase your odds of high pay - £40k as a trainee up to about £100k once 3 years qualified (and potentially £1m to £2m if an equity partner in London ) if you go to the best universities i.e. very hard to get into ones.

Here is a list of where a lot of trainee solicitors went in terms of university - https://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/wh...versities-2019
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giella
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Yes and No....They are self selected but can only be part of that group because they are research intensive unis and a large percentage of that research has been judged to be of an excellent standard.

It's not like any uni could produce that same amount and quality of research and call themselves Russell Group or they would all be doing it :confused:

However, I do agree that people are overly obsessed by the RG label not just on TSR but in schools also
They are a merger of two research groups for strategic advantage but many of the universities that are part of it are also part of others. York, Sheffield and Leeds, for instance, form the White Rose Consortium. Many universities outside of the Russell Group are part of European and international research groups. Russell Group membership doesn’t mean a damn thing when it comes to teaching or the quality of individual departments. St Andrew’s University isn’t part of it and neither are Leicester, Aberdeen, SOAS, Hull, Huddersfield, Royal Holloway, the OU or Lancaster but no employer would sniff at those on your CV.

Russell Group membership benefits the universities in terms of giving them extra lobbying power. If anything, blame them, not government, for having to pay £9000 a year in fees. The benefits don’t really trickle down to the students who attend them. Membership of the RG doesn’t automatically confer a special status on you. God knows if it had I’d suddenly have received an upgrade to my employability when my university joined after I’d left! When I first applied to university no one had even heard of the RG. It’s clever branding by the members of the RG to be sure but not actually guaranteeing you a better education or even better employment prospects. Some of the most successful people I know have attended ex-polys. I know someone who recruits for law who says she would rather recruit a person with a 2.2 from the OU than a first from an RG because of what that person has to go through to get their degree. She’s being facetious, she would be the first to acknowledge, but her point would be that she cares less about where someone went to universities and more about what they can bring to the job.

Individual universities within the RG vary considerably in quality as well. You get a much more personalised education at York or Durham, for instance, than you do at Manchester or Leeds. The RG is a fairly meaningless thing overall, but god knows TSR and schools seem to think it’s the be all and end all.
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J Papi
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(Original post by giella)
They are a merger of two research groups for strategic advantage but many of the universities that are part of it are also part of others. York, Sheffield and Leeds, for instance, form the White Rose Consortium. Many universities outside of the Russell Group are part of European and international research groups. Russell Group membership doesn’t mean a damn thing when it comes to teaching or the quality of individual departments. St Andrew’s University isn’t part of it and neither are Leicester, Aberdeen, SOAS, Hull, Huddersfield, Royal Holloway, the OU or Lancaster but no employer would sniff at those on your CV.

Russell Group membership benefits the universities in terms of giving them extra lobbying power. If anything, blame them, not government, for having to pay £9000 a year in fees. The benefits don’t really trickle down to the students who attend them. Membership of the RG doesn’t automatically confer a special status on you. God knows if it had I’d suddenly have received an upgrade to my employability when my university joined after I’d left! When I first applied to university no one had even heard of the RG. It’s clever branding by the members of the RG to be sure but not actually guaranteeing you a better education or even better employment prospects. Some of the most successful people I know have attended ex-polys. I know someone who recruits for law who says she would rather recruit a person with a 2.2 from the OU than a first from an RG because of what that person has to go through to get their degree. She’s being facetious, she would be the first to acknowledge, but her point would be that she cares less about where someone went to universities and more about what they can bring to the job.

Individual universities within the RG vary considerably in quality as well. You get a much more personalised education at York or Durham, for instance, than you do at Manchester or Leeds. The RG is a fairly meaningless thing overall, but god knows TSR and schools seem to think it’s the be all and end all.
Agreed with most of of this - and particuarly with the point about RG being a TSR-specific obsession. I'd gladly give £1 to an owl sanctuary for every HR in the City that (a) knows what the RG is and can (b) name most of its members (including the less prestigious/highly-ranked institutions)

Only thing I'd be careful about is:

1. generalising what one legal recruiter says to all firms (not saying that you're doing this) - many firms do value academic achievements highly and 'life experience'/client care very little because trainees & junior associates will only get to do limited amounts of the latter.

2. making assertions as to what 'any' employer would or wouldn't do - I can think of at least a few many 'elite' law firms whose grad rec partners have been open in saying that they ideally want candidates from a 'reputable' or 'prestigious university' (and often just Oxbridge). This is not to say that one can't compensate for having a degree from Hull or RHUL elsewhere (these people do occasionally get hired by said 'elite' firms, albeit in small numbers), only that most of the non-RG universities you mentioned would fall afoul of said test (as would some of the crapper RGs).

3. assuming that student satisfaction data as measured through the NSS means anything and that approches like PBL are better simply because they're 'group-based' or 'personalised'. Few universities have researchers who are 'top' in doctrinal legal research, and these tend to be concentrated at the 'top' unis (particularly Oxford). Most institutions that haven't been teaching law for that long either focus on boring procedural stuff (they call it 'law in practice') or on sociolegal stuff (Kent has carved out a good niche here, as did Middlesex in the 90s and so on).
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giella
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(Original post by J Papi)
Agreed with most of of this - and particuarly with the point about RG being a TSR-specific obsession. I'd gladly give £1 to an owl sanctuary for every HR in the City that (a) knows what the RG is and can (b) name most of its members (including the less prestigious/highly-ranked institutions)

Only thing I'd be careful about is:

1. generalising what one legal recruiter says to all firms (not saying that you're doing this) - many firms do value academic achievements highly and 'life experience'/client care very little because trainees & junior associates will only get to do limited amounts of the latter.

2. making assertions as to what 'any' employer would or wouldn't do - I can think of at least a few many 'elite' law firms whose grad rec partners have been open in saying that they ideally want candidates from a 'reputable' or 'prestigious university' (and often just Oxbridge). This is not to say that one can't compensate for having a degree from Hull or RHUL elsewhere (these people do occasionally get hired by said 'elite' firms, albeit in small numbers), only that most of the non-RG universities you mentioned would fall afoul of said test (as would some of the crapper RGs).

3. assuming that student satisfaction data as measured through the NSS means anything and that approches like PBL are better simply because they're 'group-based' or 'personalised'. Few universities have researchers who are 'top' in doctrinal legal research, and these tend to be concentrated at the 'top' unis (particularly Oxford). Most institutions that haven't been teaching law for that long either focus on boring procedural stuff (they call it 'law in practice') or on sociolegal stuff (Kent has carved out a good niche here, as did Middlesex in the 90s and so on).
I wouldn’t dare to assert what any legal recruiter would do due to the simple fact that there’s an exception to every rule and I’d be instantly proven wrong! But many recruiters do value two things more than the name on the degree certificate: consistency and skills. Going to a Russell Group university may be an indicator of consistency rather than because they’re necessarily a better university because they’re usually more selective and therefore your A level results will be higher than someone who didn’t go there. But going to one particular university over another may afford you opportunities to gain skills in other areas. Going to a university that runs a free legal clinic or attending a university in a city which offers many opportunities to volunteer in a particular sector will be more advantageous than going to a university for prestige alone and believing that that will carry you through.

I have worked in law for a time and many of my clients have been lawyers and thus I know a fair bit about it. Magic circle law firms are basically closed shops to all but the Loxbridge triangle is the general consensus as they basically start grooming undergraduates from the day they enrol and don’t really focus outside of those universities. With them being the exception, though, the consensus of people I know or have worked with is that if you meet the minimum requirements, that’s where the competition begins. The university you attended is rarely if ever a deciding factor in someone getting hired.
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J Papi
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(Original post by giella)
I wouldn’t dare to assert what any legal recruiter would do due to the simple fact that there’s an exception to every rule and I’d be instantly proven wrong! But many recruiters do value two things more than the name on the degree certificate: consistency and skills. Going to a Russell Group university may be an indicator of consistency rather than because they’re necessarily a better university because they’re usually more selective and therefore your A level results will be higher than someone who didn’t go there. But going to one particular university over another may afford you opportunities to gain skills in other areas. Going to a university that runs a free legal clinic or attending a university in a city which offers many opportunities to volunteer in a particular sector will be more advantageous than going to a university for prestige alone and believing that that will carry you through.

I have worked in law for a time and many of my clients have been lawyers and thus I know a fair bit about it. Magic circle law firms are basically closed shops to all but the Loxbridge triangle is the general consensus as they basically start grooming undergraduates from the day they enrol and don’t really focus outside of those universities. With them being the exception, though, the consensus of people I know or have worked with is that if you meet the minimum requirements, that’s where the competition begins. The university you attended is rarely if ever a deciding factor in someone getting hired.
All universities have some form of legal clinic these days. It's like having a Careers Service or a wellbeing centre. It's simply the norm.

Err, MC firms recruit from possibly the widest selection of universities in the UK out of any firm. Up to 30% of their intake in any given year may be non-RG (though it will often be applicants from other 'top' unis like St. Andrew's, the NULSes in India, etc). Regional universities like Durham and Bristol and Nottingham are often equally or better represented than the likes of LSE and UCL - not for prestige reasons, but because these unis produce a lot more applicants.

The bit about grooming and preparing from day 1 applies to all 'elite' legal employers (including those at the Bar). MC firms are also definitely not the most selective firms from an applicant : places or raw grades perspective - that title probably goes to some of the top US firms (e.g. Cleary).

I absolutely agree with the last sentence. At worst, the uni is a filter. To bring this back to the OP: if OP is choosing between a less well-regarded RG and a non-RG for an undergraduate law course, chances are that they will be disadvantaged (if not cut off outright) if they're applying to a handful of 'elite'/whatever firms in the City of London, but they won't be directly disadvantaged if they apply to the other 99.5% of TCs in the UK. (Whether a university can help candidates indirectly is another story and something that requires a far more complex, case-specific comparison)
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permeable
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(Original post by 17Student17)
Lots of good advice above. I am a lawyer and it is really interesting well paid career. I read law at university but my daughters who didn't converted after (although that does/did mean you have to study an extra law whether that is for the new SQE1 exam or currently the GDL).

Go to the best university you can and try to get good A level results - a lot of the best firms will want AAB in good subjects and a 2/1 in your degree (history degree probably in your case or law degree - I loved my law degree by the way but half lawyers do not read law so is up to you). Also look at lists of where newly hired trainee lawyers went to university to get an idea of which universities seem to improve your chances.
Thanks for replying this is really useful info, its great to hear that it is an interesting and well paid career, and the fact that half of lawyers dont read law both confuses me and suprises me but thanks for this information, very useful
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permeable
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i think the reason you prefer history over law is because you haven't studied law yet. do you like politics, philosophy and sociology? are you interested in knowing how law gets made, the evolution of law in society and who holds actual power?

not saying don't do history, but before you commit yourself to three years and thousands of pounds, i would go down to your local bookshop and open a book on law or legal textbook. see if any of it interests you and if you can see yourself doing it.

you need to go to the best uni you can, independent of your degree. if you're worried about getting a law degree from a non-RG or lower ranked uni, you should have the same worry with a history degree. not saying that to make you worried; just trying to put things in perceptive
Thanks for replying, your right that i have not studied law yet, I do like politics and I like history, at A-level, but at the moment I viewed it as not that useful (coming from a lack of knowledge here) unless you want to be a teacher of history, but I do not like it that much as to do it at Uni but if what people are saying is true and that it would help to do a degree in both history and law then maybe that is the route i will take if it improves my chances of doing well.
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