The Student Room Group

Starting PGDL at 48....

Afternoon all,
After some honest advice on potential career change. I'm currently an IT project manager for a high st bank and no longer get any joy out of that job. Been doing it (in various coding, managing roles) for 22 years and no longer have motivation to stay in that industry.

Law has appealed for a number of reasons - wont bore with details here, but in brief it's more than just an interest as I've gone through life. But also, I know it's only the first stage of a hard slog but the ability to do a PGDL to start a second professional career is appealing - it's not an option available for other careers.

I may take a year off to study or do PGDL part time over 2 years.

So the crux of the question. I'm currently 48 so I'm after advice, opinions, anecdotal feedback from anyone:

1. who has either been the same position - done conversion late and the challenges they found - getting training contracts, didnt get TC and what they did etc. Did you wind up having to fund your own SQE or equivalent ?

2. Anyone in the industry who has had older applicants for TC's etc and what they think when considering older candidates etc ? Difficulty finding placement with firm that will fund SQE ?

I'm really after the experience side for feedback. I've read older posts and general articles so I'm aware of the challenges I'd face. Trying to manage my own expectations in case worst case scenario I do the course and then nothing at the end. Just trying to be pragmatic around what I am wanting to do.

Please be as brutal as possible ! I know this isnt the lightest undertaking at the best of times !

Thanks in advance.
Reply 1
I can only speak from the experience of some older people at my university (Birkbeck - which is aimed at mature students) and my experience at open days etc where older people have asked questions similar to yours. Never once have I heard anyone be discouraged from giving the profession a go, and numerous times I have heard stories of people over 40 successfully entering the profession. Often it can be an advantage to have such experience under your belt.

I would probably conclude that your age won't cause you as many problems as those things that cause the rest of us problems. So, if you are going to do it, make sure your previous degree was a high 2:1 or 1st, and that you aim for a distinction on the GDL. Get as much work experience, pro bono and the rest as you can, then prepare for a competitive application process. I imagine you know these points though, so good luck!
Reply 2
Thanks ezlaw for the feedback. Provides some reassurance that I am considering doing the right thing.

Can I pick your brain a bit more. Are you student or staff at Birkbeck ? How are they in terms of career support whilst studying ? In terms of providing the right guidance to start of looking for TCs etc.
Thx
Reply 3
I am a student. Their career support isn't great. I was on the ball in terms of research and planning, which I'd recommend to anyone studying anywhere. They do share a decent number of events to students however being held in online or in other institutions.
Original post by taposh
Afternoon all,
After some honest advice on potential career change. I'm currently an IT project manager for a high st bank and no longer get any joy out of that job. Been doing it (in various coding, managing roles) for 22 years and no longer have motivation to stay in that industry.

Law has appealed for a number of reasons - wont bore with details here, but in brief it's more than just an interest as I've gone through life. But also, I know it's only the first stage of a hard slog but the ability to do a PGDL to start a second professional career is appealing - it's not an option available for other careers.

I may take a year off to study or do PGDL part time over 2 years.

So the crux of the question. I'm currently 48 so I'm after advice, opinions, anecdotal feedback from anyone:

1. who has either been the same position - done conversion late and the challenges they found - getting training contracts, didnt get TC and what they did etc. Did you wind up having to fund your own SQE or equivalent ?

2. Anyone in the industry who has had older applicants for TC's etc and what they think when considering older candidates etc ? Difficulty finding placement with firm that will fund SQE ?

I'm really after the experience side for feedback. I've read older posts and general articles so I'm aware of the challenges I'd face. Trying to manage my own expectations in case worst case scenario I do the course and then nothing at the end. Just trying to be pragmatic around what I am wanting to do.

Please be as brutal as possible ! I know this isnt the lightest undertaking at the best of times !

Thanks in advance.

Hello! Fellow career changer here!

Not from your industry but mature so can offer some advice.

You appear to be considering the route for being a solicitor as you mention the SQE. There is also a route to become a barrister if you were to consider a complete change in working, i.e becoming self employed (although there are employed positions available too). This is a helpful map if you haven't yet decided: https://www.lawcareers.net/Starting-Out/Beginners-Guide-Career-Law/Legal-Career-Paths

I wasn't sure about my route to begin with- in fact I planned to become a solicitor at first. I had no problems getting a training contract- in fact your past experience is very useful in that regards, particularly if you are looking for a practice area linked to your past. I have changed to the barrister route and the previous experience doesn't hold quite as much weight; getting a pupillage (the barrister equivalent of a training contract) is incredibly difficult.

Re. funding- I funded the MA Law (equivalent to the PGDL) with a Government masters loan. I self funded the Bar Course. However, there are lots of scholarships out there which I encourage you to apply for. I got a partial scholarship for the Bar Course as a career changer with the University of Law, which I believe they are still running- they do offer full scholarships as well as partial ones.

I did my MA Law, part-time and over 2 years. I do recommend this route as it gave me more time to get involved with mooting, competitions and essay writing- these opportunities really help with legal interviews so the more you can get involved with them, the better. Also it gives you time to get involved with legal work experience schemes- ULaw offers one off sessions so you can gain insight into different practice areas which is helpful if you work and can't commit to a week off work.

Law is interesting and challenging. I personally loved the change but don't underestimate the workload. As a mature student, you will need to do well academically so make sure you are giving the course the time it needs- taking into account everything else you need to juggle.

I wish you the best of luck with it!

Nic
Student Ambassador at the University of Law
(edited 2 years ago)
Reply 5
Nic - thank you so much for that post ! Found it really helpful and inspiring. I hadn't really looked at the MLaw as PGDL seemed like the more direct route. But will have a look into it now. Especially if the weighting allows some time/flexibility into carrying out supporting activities.
You need to look at the completely new SQE system. City firms are indeed still paying for their trainees recruited years ahead to do the PGDL then SQE1 course and SQE1 course and then SEQ2 course and exams. Some firms may do their own SQE programmes. You need to look at law firm websites where you might train and consider their deadlines and what requirements they have under the new SQE system.
Original post by taposh
Nic - thank you so much for that post ! Found it really helpful and inspiring. I hadn't really looked at the MLaw as PGDL seemed like the more direct route. But will have a look into it now. Especially if the weighting allows some time/flexibility into carrying out supporting activities.

No problem. All the best with it Taposh. 17Student17 raises a good point too. There are many routes into it so hopefully you will find one that works for you.

Best,
Nic
Student Ambassador at the University of Law
I did law 2 year degree at 46, so the equivalent to gdl

I didn’t apply for a law job. I know how hard it is for my fellow students to get training contracts. Half i oh f they don’t have anything.

What extra skills could you bring that give you a niche to get a tc?

Good luck with it but I’d look into the job side more. Doing the exams is easy, they will allow anyone in who will pay them pretty much.
To be clear, I just did the degree for interest, now doing a masters in it.
Reply 10
Sorry to reactivate a 2 week old thread but this caught my attention too. I've wanted to re-train as a solicitor since my late 20s and now aged 39 I think it's now or never! The firms I've spoken to so far have said they would consider an application for a training contract provided I had the SQE1 and 2 without needing a PGDL but I'm aiming at modest regional rather than national or city firms.

I currently work in the City and frankly I'm done with it. I also have a very rough idea (City solicitors feel free to explain why I'm wrong!) what City solicitors spend their early careers doing because I'm often their client and 99 times out of 100 I use City solicitors to write contracts I can't be bothered to write myself or because I know the answer to an issue but I want to partly transfer the risk of taking a decision with potential legal consequences from my firm on to theirs. I've never in 18 years working closely with City law firms ever engaged them in anything I would find interesting. The closest was when a firm of solicitors came in to educate us on tax avoidance laws. The money is exceptionally good though, or so I'm told.

What I would like to ask though is whether it is realistic for a 39 year old to enter the legal profession in a modest regional firm and make partner by 50? My concern is that although it's possible to become a solicitor at my age, age discrimination (and actually, to be fair, just a simple lack of time) would still limit me in how far I could take my career.
Original post by AGW1983
Sorry to reactivate a 2 week old thread but this caught my attention too. I've wanted to re-train as a solicitor since my late 20s and now aged 39 I think it's now or never! The firms I've spoken to so far have said they would consider an application for a training contract provided I had the SQE1 and 2 without needing a PGDL but I'm aiming at modest regional rather than national or city firms.

I currently work in the City and frankly I'm done with it. I also have a very rough idea (City solicitors feel free to explain why I'm wrong!) what City solicitors spend their early careers doing because I'm often their client and 99 times out of 100 I use City solicitors to write contracts I can't be bothered to write myself or because I know the answer to an issue but I want to partly transfer the risk of taking a decision with potential legal consequences from my firm on to theirs. I've never in 18 years working closely with City law firms ever engaged them in anything I would find interesting. The closest was when a firm of solicitors came in to educate us on tax avoidance laws. The money is exceptionally good though, or so I'm told.

What I would like to ask though is whether it is realistic for a 39 year old to enter the legal profession in a modest regional firm and make partner by 50? My concern is that although it's possible to become a solicitor at my age, age discrimination (and actually, to be fair, just a simple lack of time) would still limit me in how far I could take my career.

You may want to make your own thread for more replies.

It is possible to make partner within the timeframe you mention, and age discrimination probably won't be a factor in and of itself if you can fulfil what the firm is looking for -- which may be more on the bringing in and keeping clients side than on the legal practice side, very important to bear in mind and still not pointed out enough at law school. You can be a great lawyer and never make partner if you don't have the right contacts; in many firms, most people made up to partner are good at marketing and networking first and foremost.

As you correctly note, some of this will be down to the time you have to put into the career but a note of warning too: there is no guaranteed path to partnership, even if you put in the time and feel like you tick all the boxes. If you are flexible and you may make partner at some firm sooner or later, but not necessarily the one you train at, for example. However, bear in mind you might not make it at all and you may actually decide you don't want to because another path interests you more (so not necessarily a negative). Also, I am sure you have considered this, but it may be a question of your priorities and energy levels, these are different at 39 than at 23, quite obviously. Also, you may frequently be supervised by people younger and with less life experience and possibly even less business experience than you -- this may be no issue for you but I've seen a couple of older trainees struggle with this a bit.

(source: I am a solicitor and in my 40s...)
(edited 2 years ago)
Reply 12
Original post by SkippyDoo
You may want to make your own thread for more replies.

It is possible to make partner within the timeframe you mention, and age discrimination probably won't be a factor in and of itself if you can fulfil what the firm is looking for -- which may be more on the bringing in and keeping clients side than on the legal practice side, very important to bear in mind and still not pointed out enough at law school. You can be a great lawyer and never make partner if you don't have the right contacts; in many firms, most people made up to partner are good at marketing and networking first and foremost.

As you correctly note, some of this will be down to the time you have to put into the career but a note of warning too: there is no guaranteed path to partnership, even if you put in the time and feel like you tick all the boxes. If you are flexible and you may make partner at some firm sooner or later, but not necessarily the one you train at, for example. However, bear in mind you might not make it at all and you may actually decide you don't want to because another path interests you more (so not necessarily a negative). Also, I am sure you have considered this, but it may be a question of your priorities and energy levels, these are different at 39 than at 23, quite obviously. Also, you may frequently be supervised by people younger and with less life experience and possibly even less business experience than you -- this may be no issue for you but I've seen a couple of older trainees struggle with this a bit.

(source: I am a solicitor and in my 40s...)

Thank you. This is a really good post and answers most of my questions so I suspect I won't need to open another thread!

It's no surprise to me when you suggest the partner's real skill is in bringing in business. It's much the same with managing directors at the bank I work for, although I guess we do have MDs that are strictly back office. It did cross my mind that my chance of making MD is slim to none so I shouldn't have too many hang ups about making partner! However, I think it's because I don't want to work for a goliath of the legal world that makes me more concerned that I have time to reach a similar level of seniority and pay as my current role (not necessarily a partner, but at least able to manage my own workload and supervised only by partners).

It also crosses my mind that the kind of law I want to work in is very different to the wholesale finance world I currently inhabit. Winning a client will be very different when it's individuals wanting help with their estate (I'm fairly certain I want to do Private Client law although Employment looks interesting too) because although there will still be longevity in the relationships, this won't be a case of managing 2 or 3 massive accounts but a great deal of smaller ones. So I suspect I will go into the profession with little to none of the right marketing skills!

What does concern me though is your last point. As a mature candidate, it does feel like a bit of a tightrope presenting yourself as both someone with skills and gravitas that takes a while to develop and also someone willing to be supervised by someone younger than them. I genuinely wouldn't have a problem being managed by someone much younger than me but I think proving it would be much harder. Do you have any tips on how to successfully persuade a recruiter of that fact? My concern is that as someone in banking who works with solicitors every day the reality is that I'm not going to enter this profession blind and I might even have had exposure to transactions the like of which my potential supervisor hasn't and some of these experiences might be worth talking about in an interview. However, I'm not stupid enough or arrogant enough to believe I know how to do a job better than someone who's finished their training and I've worked long enough to know age has little correlation to competence other than with our own younger selves! But how to convey that?
Original post by AGW1983
Thank you. This is a really good post and answers most of my questions so I suspect I won't need to open another thread!

It's no surprise to me when you suggest the partner's real skill is in bringing in business. It's much the same with managing directors at the bank I work for, although I guess we do have MDs that are strictly back office. It did cross my mind that my chance of making MD is slim to none so I shouldn't have too many hang ups about making partner! However, I think it's because I don't want to work for a goliath of the legal world that makes me more concerned that I have time to reach a similar level of seniority and pay as my current role (not necessarily a partner, but at least able to manage my own workload and supervised only by partners).

It also crosses my mind that the kind of law I want to work in is very different to the wholesale finance world I currently inhabit. Winning a client will be very different when it's individuals wanting help with their estate (I'm fairly certain I want to do Private Client law although Employment looks interesting too) because although there will still be longevity in the relationships, this won't be a case of managing 2 or 3 massive accounts but a great deal of smaller ones. So I suspect I will go into the profession with little to none of the right marketing skills!

What does concern me though is your last point. As a mature candidate, it does feel like a bit of a tightrope presenting yourself as both someone with skills and gravitas that takes a while to develop and also someone willing to be supervised by someone younger than them. I genuinely wouldn't have a problem being managed by someone much younger than me but I think proving it would be much harder. Do you have any tips on how to successfully persuade a recruiter of that fact? My concern is that as someone in banking who works with solicitors every day the reality is that I'm not going to enter this profession blind and I might even have had exposure to transactions the like of which my potential supervisor hasn't and some of these experiences might be worth talking about in an interview. However, I'm not stupid enough or arrogant enough to believe I know how to do a job better than someone who's finished their training and I've worked long enough to know age has little correlation to competence other than with our own younger selves! But how to convey that?

Hi AGW1983,

It sounds like you are giving the situation the consideration it needs. With this kind of understanding of the difficulties, I doubt you will struggle. As a mature student, I have seen have some mature students struggle with the fact that younger counterparts will often be as competitive as themselves, as well as with the fact that their years of experience do not necessarily hold a great deal of weight (particularly if moving into a completely new area). If you move into an area of law that you have experience in through a past career that will not be an issue.

You may not necessarily have a younger supervisor either but if you do, you will find that they will still be able to offer lots of support in other ways as your past experience will only provide background, not necessarily legal expertise. By being open to this, you will not have a problem convincing an employer that it will not be a problem.

As a mature student, I secured a training contract. It's a very competitive process but your experience may give you an advantage when it comes to people skills, task management, and presenting. I would still advise that you get involved with work placement schemes, mooting and other legal competitions- one of the issues you face as mature student is proving your commitment to the career change- taking part in these helps towards this.

Despite getting a training contract, I decided to change to the Bar and I have managed to secure pupillage. You may wish to consider which route is best for you- being used to self-management, would the self-employed route of becoming a barrister be more appealing? The Bar is incredibly competitive (even more so that the solicitor route) so this is something to bear in mind, I believe last years stats showed only 30% of mature students succeeded in getting a pupillage (there are reports on the BSB website). It's worth considering though.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you all the best with it. Career changing can be challenging but incredibly rewarding.

Nic
Student Ambassador at the University of Law
(edited 2 years ago)
Reply 14
Original post by The University of Law Students
Hi AGW1983,

It sounds like you are giving the situation the consideration it needs. With this kind of understanding of the difficulties, I doubt you will struggle. As a mature student, I have seen have some mature students struggle with the fact that younger counterparts will often be as competitive as themselves, as well as with the fact that their years of experience do not necessarily hold a great deal of weight (particularly if moving into a completely new area). If you move into an area of law that you have experience in through a past career that will not be an issue.

You may not necessarily have a younger supervisor either but if you do, you will find that they will still be able to offer lots of support in other ways as your past experience will only provide background, not necessarily legal expertise. By being open to this, you will not have a problem convincing an employer that it will not be a problem.

As a mature student, I secured a training contract. It's a very competitive process but your experience may give you an advantage when it comes to people skills, task management, and presenting. I would still advise that you get involved with work placement schemes, mooting and other legal competitions- one of the issues you face as mature student is proving your commitment to the career change- taking part in these helps towards this.

Despite getting a training contract, I decided to change to the Bar and I have managed to secure pupillage. You may wish to consider which route is best for you- being used to self-management, would the self-employed route of becoming a barrister be more appealing? The Bar is incredibly competitive (even more so that the solicitor route) so this is something to bear in mind, I believe last years stats showed only 30% of mature students succeeded in getting a pupillage (there are reports on the BSB website). It's worth considering though.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you all the best with it. Career changing can be challenging but incredibly rewarding.

Nic
Student Ambassador at the University of Law

I would have thought 30% of mature students getting pupillage meant they did better than everyone else seeking pupillage! I don't think I would look at a career as a barrister for three reasons really:

1) It's extremely competitive so to go for it I would have to be 100% committed to the bar and I'm not;

2) I don't think the area of law I want to go into would involve much litigation except maybe contesting wills;

3) I'm originally from Guernsey so if I chose to have a bar career later I could go back to the island and train as an advocate (who must be either a solicitor or barrister).
Hi AGW1983,

That's good that you are sure which way you'd like to go. Definitely will help with choosing a route. Above I posted a link to a career map which is worth looking at as there are several different routes available to becoming solicitor. Have you decided which route you will take?

Nic
Student Ambassador at the University of Law
Original post by taposh
Afternoon all,
After some honest advice on potential career change. I'm currently an IT project manager for a high st bank and no longer get any joy out of that job. Been doing it (in various coding, managing roles) for 22 years and no longer have motivation to stay in that industry.

Law has appealed for a number of reasons - wont bore with details here, but in brief it's more than just an interest as I've gone through life. But also, I know it's only the first stage of a hard slog but the ability to do a PGDL to start a second professional career is appealing - it's not an option available for other careers.

I may take a year off to study or do PGDL part time over 2 years.

So the crux of the question. I'm currently 48 so I'm after advice, opinions, anecdotal feedback from anyone:

1. who has either been the same position - done conversion late and the challenges they found - getting training contracts, didnt get TC and what they did etc. Did you wind up having to fund your own SQE or equivalent ?

2. Anyone in the industry who has had older applicants for TC's etc and what they think when considering older candidates etc ? Difficulty finding placement with firm that will fund SQE ?

I'm really after the experience side for feedback. I've read older posts and general articles so I'm aware of the challenges I'd face. Trying to manage my own expectations in case worst case scenario I do the course and then nothing at the end. Just trying to be pragmatic around what I am wanting to do.

Please be as brutal as possible ! I know this isnt the lightest undertaking at the best of times !

Thanks in advance.


Hello there I am wondering if you have already started your course or not. If you have 2 .2 law degree you can go for LPC LLM program and you can apply for student finance too. You also need to secure 2 years training otherwise it's all not worth it if you want to practice as solicitor. I have completed Bar Vocational course but couldn't manage 1 years training which is important to practice as a barrister so now I am planning to go for LPC LLM program and I'm looking for a university to study. All the best for you.
Reply 17
Hi. I wondered if the original poster would be prepared to share an update? I'm 47 and an IT professional looking at the PgDL! Amazingly similar circumstance. Did you go for it? Any lessons learned or advice?
Reply 18
Hi,
Only just spotted this, dont use the site much anymore.
Short answer, yes I did start PGDL ! Started in Jan this year, doing part time weekend course at ULAW.

I made decision about a year ago. Had originally planned to start Sept 2022 but wound up on a major project which was going to take a lot of weekends to end of 2022.
Some ups and downs, got made redundant in Nov 2022 which really sealed the deal to want to start in Jan. I really wasn't enjoying IT so it was difficult to get motivated to apply for roles. However, near the end of my notice period the business side of my last project had a short term contract open up to end 2023 so that has suited me fine. 1. taking the pressure of finding a job and 2. getting some proper client facing business experience.

But onto what you want to know, how I'm finding the course. Main point- don't let age distract you. I am one of the oldest in my class of 20 but a good spread of ages from mid-20's up to late-40's. The class are a lovely bunch and we pull each other through the classes. There's less academic competition compared to undergrad. We share notes, hints, tips, ping each other when moots or side lectures come up etc. The university support system has been good, especially speaking to careers advisors. Very positive in terms of what older folk bring to table. The age factor has become one of my least worries. Join the Legal Cheek seminars on employment and career changing as they get some top notch recruiters from major firms. Got some really positive advice/

Under no illusions this is just a step and the slog for applying training contracts is yet to start.

If you go down this route don't underestimate the workload. I'm constantly chipping away at the reading. The bulk of the learning is self-guided using books and online material, then in-person workshops covering 4 units every 3-4 weeks. I find the weekends preceding the workshops are more or less tied up reading in prep. Then filling in gaps in the weekday evenings. But having a full time job means brain fried most evenings so not productive.

ULAW reckons its 25hrs studying per week. A slight exaggeration but not by much ! Only on one occasion was I not prepred for a workshop and I got no benefit. So now if I struggle for time I make sure I've had at least a cursory glance to participate. It's worth the effort as the benefit in being able to have meaningful discussions really consolidates the knowledge.

I was dithering between bar and solicitor but leaning towards solicitor. That decision may be made for me as I have no time to do the practice moots etc.

I'm now considering changing to do MA in law. It's simply a bolt on unit at end of the PGDL so if I dont wind up practicing I'll have a solid qualification to break into the legal world in a different role.

DM me if you want to discuss more.
Reply 19
Original post by taposh
Hi,
Only just spotted this, dont use the site much anymore.
Short answer, yes I did start PGDL ! Started in Jan this year, doing part time weekend course at ULAW.

I made decision about a year ago. Had originally planned to start Sept 2022 but wound up on a major project which was going to take a lot of weekends to end of 2022.
Some ups and downs, got made redundant in Nov 2022 which really sealed the deal to want to start in Jan. I really wasn't enjoying IT so it was difficult to get motivated to apply for roles. However, near the end of my notice period the business side of my last project had a short term contract open up to end 2023 so that has suited me fine. 1. taking the pressure of finding a job and 2. getting some proper client facing business experience.

But onto what you want to know, how I'm finding the course. Main point- don't let age distract you. I am one of the oldest in my class of 20 but a good spread of ages from mid-20's up to late-40's. The class are a lovely bunch and we pull each other through the classes. There's less academic competition compared to undergrad. We share notes, hints, tips, ping each other when moots or side lectures come up etc. The university support system has been good, especially speaking to careers advisors. Very positive in terms of what older folk bring to table. The age factor has become one of my least worries. Join the Legal Cheek seminars on employment and career changing as they get some top notch recruiters from major firms. Got some really positive advice/

Under no illusions this is just a step and the slog for applying training contracts is yet to start.

If you go down this route don't underestimate the workload. I'm constantly chipping away at the reading. The bulk of the learning is self-guided using books and online material, then in-person workshops covering 4 units every 3-4 weeks. I find the weekends preceding the workshops are more or less tied up reading in prep. Then filling in gaps in the weekday evenings. But having a full time job means brain fried most evenings so not productive.

ULAW reckons its 25hrs studying per week. A slight exaggeration but not by much ! Only on one occasion was I not prepred for a workshop and I got no benefit. So now if I struggle for time I make sure I've had at least a cursory glance to participate. It's worth the effort as the benefit in being able to have meaningful discussions really consolidates the knowledge.

I was dithering between bar and solicitor but leaning towards solicitor. That decision may be made for me as I have no time to do the practice moots etc.

I'm now considering changing to do MA in law. It's simply a bolt on unit at end of the PGDL so if I dont wind up practicing I'll have a solid qualification to break into the legal world in a different role.

DM me if you want to discuss more.


Thanks so much for your reply, congratulations on starting the course. Hope it all goes well. Great to hear about the support you get from the university and the other students. I'll follow Legal Cheek on Twitter - thanks for the tip. Really hope things work out for you, such a surprise to see someone in such a similar position to me but about a year ahead! All the best.

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