DS wants to do Law, I think he's unrealistic.

(45 Posts)
EastwickWitch Thu 05-Sep-13 18:30:43

He's always wanted to do it. Did a weeks work experience in a big firm & loved it. We have several lawyer friends who have been trying to dissuade him without success. They've told us there are too many law graduates for the small number of jobs.

He's just starting A levels; Eng Lit, French, History & Philosophy.
BUT I keep reading that unless he get exceptional A levels & into a RG uni the chances of getting a job are slim.
He got 4 A* 6 A & B at GSCE so he's quite bright but not exceptional.
He'd like to do French & Law together on a 4 year course.

He's looked at the summer schools for next summer but he would only qualify on a few points & I suspect he'd be lucky to get on.

I don't want to rain on his parade but I do want him to be realistic. Any lawyers out there that can advise?

lljkk Mon 09-Sep-13 12:32:56

Kind of a very British set of angsts.
Let him go for his dream. It's not failure if he doesn't get there, it's just a different path if he doesn't achieve his initial ambitions.
I'd be falling over myself to be supportive if my kid was so motivated, regardless of likelihood of success.

PenelopePipPop Mon 09-Sep-13 12:28:38

Law lecturer at a RG Uni here. He should keep an open mind about the year abroad - we try and prepare them before they go, the Law with French lot at my place do a module on French law before they go and do 30 credits worth of modules in French in their 1st and 2nd years. They do report back it is tough but they all seem to survive and they do OK in their exams (technically they only have to pass the year, we don't count those grades towards the classification of their overall degree but obviously getting a distinction in French law is a good thing to have on your CV).

To be honest I think it is a little early to worry about careers - the legal industry has seen so much change in the last decade it would be a brave person who predicted the hiring practices of large firms in six or seven years when your son has completed a degree and qualified as solicitor, and that is assuming he doesn't make your hair turn white by deciding he wants to go to the bar! He sounds smart and motivated - he should be aiming to do the degree programme that satisfies his curiosity and enthusiasm whether that is law or French or computer science. And that will mean he a) enjoys his time at Uni most and b) is likely to get the best grades leaving him with the best array of choices when he is 21/22 and ready to move on to the next stage of his life.

FWIW I loved law and didn't find it dry at all, but I did stick around and complete a further three degrees in the subject and become an academic so I may not be representative!

EastwickWitch Sun 08-Sep-13 13:28:49

A massive thank you for the opinions & encouragement. I've found it very informative. I promise I haven't written him off, I just want to add a touch of realism.
I'm hoping his determination will result in hard work & good grades which will increase his options.
Much appreciated.

LindaMcCartneySausage Sun 08-Sep-13 13:04:59

I'm a solicitor, but not in private practice anymore. Did 12 years in the City and it practically broke me. friends who did Family and Litigation have had much longer and more rewarding careers. your DS should think to think about what sort of law he'd eventually like to practice.

I used to recruit for one of the Magic Circle firms and we always looked very favourably on languages and years spent abroad at European universities as part of Law Degrees. Id say Law with French will be more attractive to a City employer than straight law from the same university. many of our trainees did seats at our overseas offices and i did (fantastic experience).A 2:1 is a minimum and it more or less has to be Oxbridge or Russell Group university for the big City firms.

78bunion Sun 08-Sep-13 12:56:37

I adored it. One of the most interesting, worthwhile degrees. I think half of lawyers read law and the other half do the extra year after (as my daughters did) of the law conversion.

timeforgin Sat 07-Sep-13 21:37:00

Gawd. If he wants to do law with a view to being a lawyer (magic circle, high street or otherwise) then I would encourage that wholeheartedly. His exam results are great. Law is a great subject to study whether you become a lawyer or not. I would say if there is another subject he is more passionate about then he should do that though - you don't have to study law to become a lawyer (even a magic circle one).

Everything is competitive these days. Who knows what will have happened in the economy / job market.

I say this as a lawyer at a magic circle firm btw, state/Oxbridge educated. I am one of the few people in my group at work who actually studied law (and I think the only one of my age group who is Oxbridge). I have interviewed potential trainees, mentored vac students and seen dozens of CVs.

Very best of luck to him!

SaltySeaBird Sat 07-Sep-13 21:34:57

Hmm I've always felt my Law degree from an RG university was a waste of time. I didn't pursue law as I didn't enjoy it at the time (although regret it now as I don't enjoy what I do now either and think I would prefer law).

It's too late for me but personally I would advise my DD to do a different degree and then the conversion if she wanted a legal career. I think law is very specific.

Bearcat Sat 07-Sep-13 21:23:00

DS1 got virtually the same GCSE grades as your son, except he got 2 C's in place of the B.
He went on to get 3A's at A level, went on to do a masters degree in civil engineering at a RG university and got a first.
Don't do your son down. Those are great GCSE results.

78bunion Sat 07-Sep-13 20:19:19

East, my oldest had her gap year after her LPC year (the year after your law degree) and before her training contract when she had her first job (training contract) to come back to and worked a ski season - nice to have one at that age when you are old enough to enjoy it and all your exams are under your belt. He could do that.

eurochick Sat 07-Sep-13 17:50:32

I did Law with French at an RG uni. It was a tough degree but the Frnehc part kept me sane as I found law very dry. I worked much harder than my friends on other courses and the folks doing straight law. I did use my French - I did an internship at the European Commission and also worked at a French law firm for a while. They were both great experiences. I don't use it that much now though, even though I practise in an international area. The languages that are valued by my firm most are Spanish (for South American business), Russian and Arabic.

Law is daftly competitive at the moment with a lot of people chasing not many jobs, but that is true in other fields too. And by the time he graduates and is looking for training it will be 7 years from now (2 years more at school, 4 year degree, 1 year LPC) so who knows what the economy will be doing. A law degree will stand him in good stead for lots of other jobs too.

Trazzletoes Sat 07-Sep-13 17:38:39

Working in law firms in France? Unlikely to be an option. I managed to get a "stage" through a family contact but its very hard to get them otherwise as an English person. I had a ton of concessions (worked 9-5 rather than their ridiculous hours) and although I'd just spent a year doing French law, most of it was incomprehensible to me.

You won't get paralegal work either there - plenty of French graduates looking for the work experience who speak fluent French and have an idea what they're doing.

EastwickWitch Sat 07-Sep-13 15:28:10

78 I was coming to that conclusion too. It was regular french rather than french law he fancied but I can see, unless he does brilliantly in AS/A2 he's going to find it hard to find a place.
Actually he's finding it a big leap from GCSE to AS french already.

His solution was to have a year out doing a ski season (at our expense) in the french alps. That won't be an option.

78bunion Sat 07-Sep-13 15:02:13

Unless he really wants do it perhaps just do the 3 year law degree and keep french as a hobby - may be work in law firms in France in all the summer holidays instead which may be more useful than an extra year to fund doing difficult french law lectures in French which may not be enjoyed and could waste a year of your life.

NoComet Sat 07-Sep-13 11:39:32

Personally I can't think of anything worse than being a highflying London lawyer.

However, working for a provincial law firm, being a solicitor or the corporate lawyer, where DH works, now that would be a whole different game.

Nice rural middle class life, what's not to like.

Fairdene Sat 07-Sep-13 11:14:13

No OP, English law is a wholly different beast from French law.

Lots of students seem to say the same as Trazzletoes: law lectures in French is super hard.

Trazzletoes Sat 07-Sep-13 10:08:22

Hi, I did Law with French Law though my uni was not RG. It was definitely a talking point at interviews as it isn't (or wasn't) that common. Out of the 7 people on my course I'm still in touch with, all those who wanted to be solicitors, are (though I went to uni some 15 years ago...) but I am the only one to use my French regularly. They are all working in more corporate areas and I do Legal Aid.

It IS hard to get a training contract nowadays but a Law degree is a great degree to have regardless of what he does next.

Btw, attending lectures in France in French is really REALLY bloody hard. It is not an easy year at all.

Rainbowshine Sat 07-Sep-13 09:57:44

I read law and out of the 150 graduates about 5% went into legal work afterwards. As it's a well respected degree if he decides he wants to do something else, or finds getting into the legal profession tough, he should take heart that the rest of us found solid careers in teaching, HR, sales and marketing etc etc. He will find he has more reading than other degrees - successful students treated it like a job where any time not in lectures was spent in the library reading up on cases and making copious photocopies of everything. Good luck, having a clear career to aim for will hopefully encourage him!

EastwickWitch Sat 07-Sep-13 09:47:21

Fairdene, I understans what you're saying. He'll just have to work really hard & see what happens with AS. When he did WE he really enjoyed several departments within the firm.

My comments about English & European law were from a lawyer friend, I thought she said that countries in the EU will have very similar law structures & that there would be little benefit studying French Law per se.

Again, thank you for all the comments. It's all very useful.

Fairdene Sat 07-Sep-13 09:28:13

think

Fairdene Sat 07-Sep-13 09:26:16

Absolutely. Could well be more fulfilling for a lot of people. The point is that OP questions whether think law may be too aspirational for her DS. The MC may be, as things stand, but not law per se.

Fairdene - it is possible to have a fulfilling career outside the Magic Circle you know wink

Fairdene Fri 06-Sep-13 21:53:27

I'm very puzzled about your comment that 'it will all be international law in a few years time'. What do you mean exactly?

It may be worth bearing in mind that at the top unis, getting an offer for Law with French Law is harder than an offer for Law as a single subject. It's certainly not a soft way in.

I would guess that from a great comp and not ticking every eligibility box he'd be unlikely to secure a ST Summer School place.

By the same token he might soar ahead at AS and get A* predictions for A2, in which case, depending on the particular admissions criteria at the unis he applies to, there would be little holding him back. But if he carries on the same trajectory he would probably be looking at a middle ranking uni for Law which is fine for High St solicitor type work but rather more limiting for Magic Circle firms and the very best chambers. Students predicted 1st's and high 2.1's from the very top unis/ dept's are still doing vac schemes and mini pupillages at these and not finding work.

I'd say that that's not a reason to discourage him though. A degree in law is a good, interesting and challenging degree and he should do it if that's what he wants and just see where it leads. He won't be worse off than doing another degree which interests him less, so nothing to lose.

Lilymaid Fri 06-Sep-13 20:10:11

"The courses he's considering are British Law & French rather than french law, from what we understand it will all be international Law in a few years time."
To be pedantic, you mean English Law (Scots Law is a totally different type of law/legal system) and he will also have to study some European (EU Law). He might have the option also to study Public International Law and/or Private International Law (this covers what happens when problems cross two or more legal systems - e.g. foreign divorces).
Good luck to your DS. As everyone has said, it is very competitive and there are more would be solicitors than there are places for at the moment. Don't even think about the small percentage of would be barristers that manage to develop a career at the bar!

78bunion Fri 06-Sep-13 18:53:38

My girls have done it. They did not do a law degree first and perhaps that meant they got into a better university than they otherwise meant which can be important and both qualified. They got a lot of As but by no means all As and both earning well in London.

If he wants to do the French with law let him although it is an extra year of work/slog.

EastwickWitch Fri 06-Sep-13 18:17:34

That's helpful. I'm not sure what the year out entails, I think its lectures at a French Uni.
I have found a scheme that offers british teens a week in France doing voluntary work where you stay in a hostel with other English speaking people but they guarantee that you will only speak French on the placement. It's very
Do any of you know about The Sutton Trust Law summer schools? They look brilliant & would offer great insight but he doesn't tick every eligibility box and we imagine there will be a massive demand.

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