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?

Chubfuddler Thu 05-Sep-13 18:37:57

Your lawyer friends are both right and wrong. There are too many graduates in any given year for the trainee jobs available but plenty do get jobs and plenty do the year after etc having done paralegal work. Some go into related fields such as working in house and sone never practice law.

If he wants to work in a city firm then yes the very best results will be expected and even that doesn't guarantee success. But legal practice does not begin and end in the city.

I did go to a Russell group uni but work in a high street firm (a big one, with pretentions to be thought of as a regional, but when it comes down to it, it is high street). Most of my colleagues went to pretty ordinary universities. They are all very commercial though, very driven. That's what really counts.

A cousin of mine desperately wanted to work in law, a Russell group university was hopelessly beyond his reach both academically and financially and just in terms of family expectations. He went to the local university, I helped him with applications and he is now taking the ILEX route through a good Plymouth firm.

It can be done. I wouldn't do anything but law. I love it.

Alanna1 Thu 05-Sep-13 18:39:39

Law is a tough and often quite boring degree. Hard to do well in.... About half our intake do the conversion course instead of a law degree. So whether he reads law or not, he can still become a lawyer.

As to university - we look at the degree class. We want a good 2:1 or above. I've not assessed for some years now, and if it was from a poor university I might have looked at the rest of the application more closely in assessing whether it met our short-listing (for interview) criteria. But we have no criteria based on which uni you went too. A first always stands out, so reading something you love and are good at can help there.

But I've personally shortlisted applicants with firsts from non-RG (because I remember one applicant - really good application) - I don't remember any 2:1 from non RG but that's just because it was so long ago and there are hundreds of them, and as there's no criteria on that point I wouldn't have particularly noticed it.

Chubfuddler Thu 05-Sep-13 18:43:07

Oh yes agreed he doesn't have to do a law degree. I didn't. About half and half between my colleagues.

Jewelledkaleidoscope Thu 05-Sep-13 18:43:29

Oh bless him. His GCSE results are extremely good. I think he stands a very good chance of achieving highly at A level and getting into a RG.

Fairylea Thu 05-Sep-13 18:51:47

He's got similar gcse's to me. smile

I did a year of law, hated it, switched to psychology then hated that then left altogether (mainly due to my gran being terminally ill but that's another thread).

For the time being I'd just be optimistic and support him. It's great he is ambitious. I'd encourage him to do law. The worst that happens is he doesn't like it and ends up doing something else OR ends up with a good law degree - which is well respected in ANY career.

And - he may well get a job in law!

However, to be honest all graduates are having a very tough time securing first jobs in any field, not just law. So he may as well do what interests him.

For what it's worth neither myself nor dh have degrees and we have both worked in very senior positions (I ended up in marketing).

I'm a Solicitor Advocate and went to a poly <gasp>. I didn't really enjoy my law degree or Solicitors Finals but I absolutely love the practice of law.

When I recruit I don't look at degree class to be honest, or A levels, I look at whether the person has shown an interest in the profession, and a desire to succeed. So work experience, pro bono work, that type of thing.

Often the most interesting areas of work are not those which are pay best. There is life outside the Magic Circle!

EastwickWitch Thu 05-Sep-13 20:16:38

Thank you so much for all the information.
I think we'll solder on & see what happens.

Jewelledkaleidoscope Thu 05-Sep-13 20:34:47

Honestly, I know your son is probably at a very high achieving school, but those results are very, very good and put him into the top 5% of schoolkids in the country. He'll go on to great things.

EastwickWitch Thu 05-Sep-13 20:52:28

What a lovely thing to say, thank you.
He's in the state system, we have a great local Comp.
I don't think he was in the top 5% of his year though.

I just don't want to set him up for a fall.
Do you think doing a combined degree with French will give him more options? It would be 4 years, with a year abroad.

LibraryBook Thu 05-Sep-13 22:54:09

A law degree is both interesting and well respected by both legal and non-legal recruiters.

Part of the job of being a parent is to encourage your child to pursue his/her dreams. And as a matter of interest what degree subject are you going to suggest is more useful?

BeckAndCall Fri 06-Sep-13 09:14:38

I can't see how a law degree can ever be wasted - it's a good solid subject whether you go on to be a practising lawyer or not.

He could go onto a graduate scheme for any business afterwards - civil service, commercial section of any big company, HR etc etc.

If he's interested in law academically, he should go for it, then 3 years from now, decide if its a career he wants to pursue or if he wants to go in a different direction.

LottienHuw Fri 06-Sep-13 09:51:56

If he doesnt manage to get a place on a Law degree then theres always the option of applying for an apprenticeship as a Paralegal and then study a degree through Open University or similar at a later date.

ILEX provides college courses for those who want to become Legal Executives/Paralegals/Lawyers too.

Too many people are now of the opinion that only a Degree will do when in fact some of the most talented people I know dont have degrees they have life experience.

Good luck to him with his career.

Chubfuddler Fri 06-Sep-13 09:54:51

I think speaking any second language is always an advantage, and a year studying abroad sounds like an opportunity to be grasped with both hands. If he really wants to do it he should do it.

AbiRoad Fri 06-Sep-13 10:15:56

As others have said, if he has a law degree but ends up not being a lawyer, the law degree will be just as useful as any other degree in applying for jobs which do not require a specific degree subject (accountancy, HR etc).
Equally, he can become a lawyer without doing a law degree, eg he can do a non-law degree and then 2 years at law school rather than one.
In terms of the law with French courses, I would look very closely at what the French element involves (eg is the French just language and a bit of a comparison of common law and civil law systems or do you get an actual qualification in French law). Generally I dont think it justifies the cost of the extra year at university becuase the French element tends to skim the surface, although I think there are one or two excellent courses. When I was involved in graduate recruitment I dont think we would have viewed law with French more highly than a normal law degree. That does not mean he should not do it if he really wants to, I just think he should assume it will not add much/any value to his CV in weighing up the extra year of loan etc he will need.

It has been a while since I was involved in recruitment but his GSCE grades would not have stoppped him getting an interview if he had decent A levels. It may be though that expectations have moved up since then. I think he would still get interviews with a good non-Russel group degree, but if he is interested in the large firms it is fair to say that they concentrate their recruitment events etc at these universities (reflecting the reality that they cannot go everywhere and in practice most recruits tend to come from these univeristies) so it can be harder if applying from another uiversity to get access to as much info about the different firms, particularly the more informal info about atmosphere etc that you cant really pick up from webistes but can pick up by meeting people who work there.

I did law and French, and enjoyed most of the degree (especially when I pulled my finger out and actually did some work). The French part can be tough. I went to law lectures in Aix en Provence with about 600 French students. If you get a 2.1 on a degree like that you should be ok (or am I out of date), as long as the rest of your CV is good.

If he is good at French I would encourage it. He will stand out from the crowd, and I find my French (good and fairly fluent) incredibly useful at work now.

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 06-Sep-13 13:20:21

With those GCSEs, why do you think he is not bright enough to get into a Russel group university? If he works hard, he has the potential to get A grade A levels, and whilst competition is fierce, he already has some relevant work experience and seems to have the potential to get more. He seems very passionate about this.

Law is a respected degree, so even if he doesn't get a legal job, he could use it to get a job in another area. Law & French would look very attractive to a lot of recruiters, especially as he seems passionate enough to work hard and get a 2.1 or above.

What would you like him to do instead? What do you think would give him better prospects.

HRHwheezing Fri 06-Sep-13 13:27:07

Has he thought about doing something more unusual?
A friend of my husband did a degree in law and Russian in Bath.
He now works in Moscow.

Think where someone might need him in a few years.

EastwickWitch Fri 06-Sep-13 16:51:07

What a knowledgeable & useful lot you all are, thank you so much.

I don't want you to think I'm not supportive; he's a lovely lad & I'm very proud of him. I will be thrilled if he achieves what he wants. I'm the one having doubts, not him. I keep reading about all these straight A students not getting places.

We've talked about another degree & doing a conversion later but he really believes law is the right choice. He thought of french too because he really enjoys it & loves the idea of a year out.
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.

TheLightPassenger Fri 06-Sep-13 18:03:01

yy I think doing another language with law would be a very good move, even better if he could spend his year abroad in some form of work placement (appreciate that law with language courses may be rather less likely to offer than this law with business or straight language courses. Yes,given the economy, it's going to be hard to get a traineeship but if he is genuinely interested in studying law as a subject, it seems a pretty sensible choice of first degree.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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 Sat 07-Sep-13 09:28:13


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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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