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Has anyone done a Law and French degree?

Hi there, i am writing as my daughter is British but grew up in France in Marseille and is looking to return back to the UK for uni and is considering doing Law and French at either Bristol, Leeds, Exeter or elsewhere. My question is whether anyone has actually done this degree and whether studying law is interesting at all or is as “dry” as some friends of ours have heard it is. I’m hearing that Law is basically a lot of just memorising and repetitive learning and not very interesting?? When I read about the course both my daughter and I think it sounds super interesting but any feedback would be great. Also, it’s probably worth mentioning that she is fluent in French so I’m assuming this will help and not mean that some of the degree is pointless? Final question is whether anyone knows what you would have to do following the degree in order to practise as a lawyer in France? She has a french passport as well….
Reply 1
Hello! I've not used thestudentroom for ages since then! I have now finished in Rennes (Summer 2022) and completed the Bar Vocational Studies - starting soon as a pupil barrister in london 🙂
To begin with, I think the teaching style in Exeter (and in any non-Oxbridge unis) is relatively relaxed, typically (at least for me 6 years ago), your week would look like: 5 1x hour lecture (with 300 other students) + 3-4 2x hours seminars/ tutorials (with maybe 10 of your classmates as a small group) + occasional termly summative essays/ presentations that would take up a certain percentage of your final grade + the final exams which could be oral presentation or essay (take-home or timed in an exam hall).

Law is one of the things that you'll either find it interesting or absolutely hate it, I personally liked English Law, although the teaching could've been improved, this especially applies to the Maitrise I did in Rennes 1 (EU Law), you either love it or find it super boring, luckily i was the former, as in Rennes (at least when i was there) you get to do a bunch of modules in WTO trade law as well as pure french law like droit sociale or droit de la concurrence...

I am a native speaker myself (grew up in a french speaking country - then was educated in france and then in London) I think thinking back now Rennes must have been one of the most challenging experiences in my academic life (5 years of law!), it was extremely demanding when it comes to your level of french but also the french higher education system is very old school, meaning that you could have 8 hours of lectures (with 10 min to 2 hours of gap in between) a day, consisting of multiple 2-4 hours lectures, where you would sit in the amphitheatre and type down word by word what the professor say. At least for law, given that Rennes is one of the more prestigious universities for EU law in france (after SciencePo and Assas of course), local french students have to compete very hard to get into the masters programme, whereas students like me from Exeter just get automatic admission as long as I pass the Exeter part of the degree (the first three years: english law + french law), this all in all makes the programme very competitive and difficult, even for local french students, let alone students from Exeter whose mother tongue isn't french in most of the cases. Mental health wise I struggled quite a bit especially during exam seasons, as I think personally there was less personal opinion and critical thinking involved in the exams/ teaching compared to the british way of teaching, so 70% of the time in exams they expect you to just remember and retain whatever that was taught. There was a girl in the year before me (before I went to Rennes) on the same programme who even committed suicide during the course, because she couldn't meet the grade requirements in order to be sent to an exchange programme to another EU country, and to be completely candid, I am not surprised. Rennes is quiet/ medium sized city - so the best advice I can give to survive and hopefully pass the Maitrise is:

Learn how to cook (as restaurants are more expensive in france, even McDonald's)

Be prepared to speak as much french as possible (this is the only way to integrate fully and facilitate the french law oral exams)

Be prepared to make french friends! Otherwise one of the most common thing is for students (non-native speakers of french) to be speaking their own language most of the time with people from their home country, which is sort of a big no no to integration.

Although these things won't necessarily apply to your daughter as she's basically French (culturally integrated to france etc).
In terms of language barriers, it's not a straightaway answer. Although native speakers will most definitely benefit from their language skills (i.e. understanding the lectures etc and the dissertations/ commentaire d'arrêts will be easier to write with better french), do bear in mind that the highest achievers in my class (in the history of the english law and french law programmes) are usually non-native speakers, and I have even known many many native speakers (french students) failing their exams in rennes and/ or just dropping out of the french law programme straightaway, because although they are more than competent in the french language, there's a tendency for them to underestimate the workload. So the most important thing is not the nationality or french language, it's more like the ability to work hard/smart.

Finally, I can't speak for everyone but employability wise it doesn't really make you "stand out" exactly, perhaps you will get more of an advantage applying for a training contract in a solicitors' firm with an international/ WTO trade outlook, but not exactly in every case, this is because getting a job in law is very competitive, and unfortunately employers still do look at 75% university reputation (where you went for uni, i.e. oxbridge, LSE) and the rest the scholarships/ internships/ your grades during university. But as I said an extra degree in foreign law will never bring any harm, and will be useful in the long run, i know people who ended up working for the EU commission etc.

I can write a book on my experience in Rennes, if you have any questions, I don't mind answering them!

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