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Law Conversion Course: University of Law or BPP?(9 Posts)
I've also posted in Legal Matters.
I've been investigating re-training in law, since my existing profession is somewhat unstable (financial pressures and low barriers to entry, meaning wages and actual positions under pressure).
I've got two DC at school now, and have found a couple of law conversion courses for part-time online study, which would save us commuting and childcare during the training. Has anyone heard of BPP or the University of Law?
I've worked freelance and also studied online, so I'm not worried about lacking discipline, but I want to be sure that this sort of study, and these institutions, are going to be acceptable when looking for jobs after the conversion and LPC. FWIW, my undergraduate degree was from Cambridge, so I hopefully won't look like a Mickey Mouse candidate in general.
Is it worth it?
University of Law is what used to be the College of Law. Both institutions are well known and well established. Back when I did my training (2002, so a good while ago now!) the City firms favoured BPP and had contracts with them to send their trainees there, but not sure if that is still the case. I don't know anyone who has done the training online though - is that a new thing? Years ago they used to offer 'block learning' where you would do the course part time by going for a weekend once a month for face to face tuition. I would suggest online learning for the conversion course might be hard work (regardless of your academic background). I did a qualifying law degree so I didn't need to do that course, but people I know who did it found it was very tough going - not the difficulty of the material, just the volume of what you need to cover in a short time. You effectively do 2 years' worth of a law degree in one year (if doing it full time). I'm not sure I would want to take it on via online learning. The LPC would probably be okay learning online - it's boring, but not difficult.
I would be aware that if you wanted to work at a city firm and get sponsorship for the courses, they would be likely to want to dictate to you where you had to go to study. Have you looked into training contracts yet? They usually recruit 2 years in advance, so you would need to be looking now, before you start the conversion course - not when you've finished.
Best of luck with it. I think you're crazy to convert to law (I have quit now after 10 years working in law, in regional and Magic Circle firms) but that's another thread .
Maybe I am crazy . However it's something that fits my skillsets, other people I like and respect have trained in law, and it does sound interesting (journalism, too, has got its spells of tedium before producing interesting results!).
The information about which way round to do things is really useful - thanks!
You may find it useful to find a hard copy or online copy (if they exist - I only ever used a hard copy but the world has moved on since I was doing training contract applications!!) of Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. It used to list all the firms that offered contracts, how many were available, how to apply and when, a little precis of the firm and a quote from current trainees. Super super useful.
Overall a lot of the work is interesting, and I enjoyed some of my time in law. When I first started out (in 2003) business was booming and there was a great social side to it, plus the firm I trained at was full of lovely people and I didn't work super long hours. I was child free and it was pretty fun. Then I moved to London to a MC firm and it was much more stressful, less sociable and the work wasn't really my thing - very different focus from the regions. We moved out of London when we got married as we wanted to be near family when we had children. Your position is a bit different in that your DCs are already at school, so you presumably know how much time you are willing to devote to your career and perhaps flexibility and part time working isn't a huge priority for you. I left law entirely and joined the civil service on a graduate scheme - it suits me much better as it is much less stressful, shorter hours and more flexible - although obviously much much less pay too! I guess it just depends what you're looking for really. Just be realistic about what the focus will be for you as a lawyer. It's all about the money. It's not about justice, or getting the right answer, or solving the world's legal issues. It's about bills and making money for the firm. The bigger and better the firm, the more you will find that you need to get the right answer and the less stressful the billing process will be - clients will by and large pay up and you just record the time spent. The smaller the firm, the harder it is because the clients are smaller and so their budgets are smaller and you end up spending 10 hours doing something but then only being able to bill for 5 then they knock you down to 4 and you can see how that quickly leads to much more time in the office to make up your billing targets...
Anyway, sorry that turned into a bit of a ramble. If you haven't already done some work experience at the sort of firm you're interested in working at, please do it - you'll need to anyway to have any hope of getting training contract interviews, but regardless you should do it to make sure you realise what the job entails. It's mostly bills, targets, chargeable time.... boring. I much prefer doing technical work (I now do tax technical work) and looking at what the law says and how it should apply. I don't care about billing and chargeable hours targets. If you like the idea of the technical work, it may be worth looking at my current job too, although pay wise it's just under £50k in the regions once qualified (I think the London weighting is about another £5k approx) - so not comparable with a City lawyer's salary.
BPP and UOL are the two big training providers. Any firm will have heard of both and it doesn't matter which you choose - choose the one you prefer.
I'd also have reservations about distance learning depending what arrangements there are for contact with tutors. I studied part time over two years with one evening of tutorials a week and everything else online and that was fine.
Also - I've clearly had a different experience from pp because I spend a lot of my time doing technical work and I enjoy being a fee earner, although targets are part of life too.
My advice would be to try to secure a training contract before investing in the LPC. It is £15k approximately and at the moment it is very tough to get a TC and about to get worse (in my sector at least, due to possible changes by MoJ to civil lit) - there is a lot of competition for very few jobs.
Regarding the question you asked, I did the iLPC at UoL and it was fine. There were 3 face to face weekends over the 2 year course. Choose which course suits best and go from there. Both institutions are well known providers.
You really really need to explore jobs now, before spending the time and money on a law conversion.
The law schools are churning out thousands of graduates every year, and there are nowhere near enough jobs for them.
The fact you have a Cambridge degree will help, but I know an Oxford graduate who was unable to get a training contract (they graduated at a trrrible time in the market), and has now been a paralegal (like an assistant lawyer, does low level stuff, is only paid £25k and struggling to pay off law school debt) for the last 8 years while still looking for a training contract. It is a very tough jobs market, and only getting worse as more legal functions are automated.
I've left law now, but wouldn't advise anybody to go into it!
To answer your actual question, both those providers are fine and very well known, and distance learning in itself is unlikely to be a problem
BPP is more organised and better, in my opinion. But don't touch them with a barge pole until you have a training contract that will sponsor you through them.
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