Son has an offer for Classics but really wants to study Law?

(135 Posts)
duckeggblu Tue 12-Jun-18 07:26:24

Hi all,

DS is in middle of sitting his A-levels.

He has an offer to study Classics, which is a 4 year course (at Oxford).

Before applying he was uhming and ahing if to apply to Law or Classics. The school managed to convince him to study Classics in the end, as past pupils seem to dislike Law.
His end goal is to become a Lawyer and he is involved in a few Legal extra curriculars/networking events.

He’s come to me tonight to say that he wants to study Law as undergrad instead. He does obviously know that he could do the GDL but in his view it’s 6 years of study vs 4.

He’s planning on finishing his A level exams, having a think and then possibly emailing different Law schools to ask if they accept very late applications. (I don’t suspect many of worth will). He has his eyes on the Bristol Law course as he goes to a school eligible for the contextual offer that he’d meet quite comfortably (In theory!)

The only other option I can think of, is a Gap year, which he doesn’t want. Or, perhaps to email his future Oxford college and ask if he could be considered for Law instead.

Any advice?

OP’s posts: |
Misericord Tue 12-Jun-18 07:28:15

Really minor point but GDL will only add one year of study, not two? So it’s six years rather than five if you add in LPC/BPTC.

Wishfulmakeupping Tue 12-Jun-18 07:30:59

It’s worth exploring other options of starting Law however I think gap year maybe the best bet rather than starting a degree he doesn’t have his heart in.

Wishfulmakeupping Tue 12-Jun-18 07:32:41

In his gap year he could do lots of voluntary work which may help him decide what area of law he’s particularly interested in and maybe do some shadowing at a law firm?

Kate223344 Tue 12-Jun-18 07:44:20

Out of interest, why is his undergrad course four years instead of three? I thought it was only four in Scotland.

Gentlygently Tue 12-Jun-18 07:52:47

Unless law changes rapidly in the next 6 years I suspect he will find many more ‘senior’ lawyers who see Classics at Oxford as ‘better’ than an undergraduate law degree. What sort of law does he want to do? And barrister or solicitor?

Mumsnut Tue 12-Jun-18 08:01:46

A friend of mine started a history course at Cambridge, and changed after two years to do two years of law. This was a known thing, and enough to get him a training contract. Could he do something similar?


Time40 Tue 12-Jun-18 08:06:57

I totally agree with Gently - it could be really helpful to him to have studied Classics at Oxbridge. That would get him a lot of respect and most probably open some doors. Personally, I'd say grab it with both hands.

Also, he should look into if it would be possible to change course once he'd done a year or two of Classics. In my day it was fairly easy (I know someone who did Classics at Cambridge and then switched to Law, but that was at Cambridge, a long time ago.)

ZenNudist Tue 12-Jun-18 08:09:03

I think Classics at Oxford a good basis for a law career. It will look more peestigioys and if he wants a job in london gokden circle law firms would be well regarded.

ZenNudist Tue 12-Jun-18 08:09:29

Ffs that should say prestigious

ZenNudist Tue 12-Jun-18 08:09:52

And golden

crumpet Tue 12-Jun-18 08:10:37

The law firm I trained at eons ago certainly thought that candidates who had a non- law degree had a lot to offer - almost preferred those who had a broader experience than those who had done straight law

crumpet Tue 12-Jun-18 08:11:42

In my day the law degree focussed on 8modules over the last 2 years whereas the conversion course covered the 6 core modules in one year

1Wanda1 Tue 12-Jun-18 08:12:05

Classics will be a much better degree for him than law if he wants to be a lawyer. You don't need to study law at degree level to be a lawyer and there is no advantage in doing so. Indeed, many people making grad recruitment decisions in law firms will value other first degrees more.

A Classics degree was traditionally a common choice pre-law. These days it is probably not the case to say that lawyers "need" to understand the Latin/Greek "traditional" legal terms, but it certainly helps if you do. Also, the understanding of the structure of language that you learn from studying a Classics degree is of huge benefit in a career in which drafting skills are key.

I am a lawyer. I went to Cambridge to read a Classics but I changed to a different (non-law) degree subject. Have always regretted that choice. Most of my friends who studied law at university did not go on to become lawyers. For that reason alone, I would urge my own children, if they wanted to become lawyers, to study at university a subject they are really interested in, and then do the GDL to convert to law later. It is only one extra year of study.

Also, if your DS is interested in becoming a barrister rather than a solicitor, there is no doubt that reading Classics at Oxford will make his CV more appealing to those making pupillage decisions in chambers than a straight law degree. The bar is still a very traditional place and a lot of barristers have taken that route to the bar themselves.

1Wanda1 Tue 12-Jun-18 08:15:05

Also, it's not a choice between 6 or 4 years of study.

If he does law, that's a 3 year degree followed by one year LPC (or BVC for barrister) If he does Classics, it's a 3 year degree, then one year GDL and one year LPC/BVC. So the difference is only one year.

1Wanda1 Tue 12-Jun-18 08:16:41

Ignore me! I've just realised Classics at Oxford is a 4 year course.

KirstenRaymonde Tue 12-Jun-18 08:19:46

kate223344 the third year is a professional training year in industry, they’re becoming very common, lots of English uni’s offer them now.

I know two people who studied law at Oxford and then when they got training contracts discovered they didn’t want to be lawyers. Having only a law degree narrowed them and both struggled to figure out what to do (they both completed their training courses but left right after)
Classics is a much more rounded course that will open more doors, especially from Oxford. GDL is only a year, he may also change his mind during his studies (I know I did!) and having a less specific course behind him will really give him breadth to look at more things. That said, degrees are hard, Oxford especially so. If his heart isn’t in it it will be a real slog.

Spidermansthong Tue 12-Jun-18 08:24:30

Almost any degree from Oxford (or similar standing unis) would, in general, be looked upon more favourably than a law degree from a less prestigious university. There are certainly some firms which prefer non-law graduates but equally some that prefer law degrees. With a four year degree he could do a lot of legal work experience which would also help.

I went to a former poly, I started as a business studies student but changed after a few months to law, however, it was only because a few people had dropped out so I was able to have one of their spaces.

umptydumpty Tue 12-Jun-18 08:27:37

Obviously his choice, but I’d agree with other posters that a first undergraduate degree is the time to do something you take intellectual pleasure in for it’s own sake - the more esoteric the better!

He has many many years ahead of him. His career will be long. He doesn’t need to be in a massive hurry onto the exactly right career ladder now.

I didn’t exactly do a vocational 1st degree but it was quite closely connected to the line of work I was most interested in. In retrospect I wish I had done something for the sheer love of it at that age (eg languages).

And I’m now in my mid thirties doing a conversion course for a new career I am very excited about, but that I didn’t have the slightest interest in at age 18. Nearly everyone I was at university with has changed their career path from what they did straight out of uni. Emphasise to your son how much time he has, and what an amazing opportunity a oxford classics education will be. Of course, if he doesn’t enjoy classics any more that’s a different matter, but if he still does then law can surely wait a few years.

Good luck to your son.

1Wanda1 Tue 12-Jun-18 08:37:24

I'm quite jel of your DS. What an amazing opportunity to be able to study Classics at Oxford! You must be so proud. The world will be his oyster.

Fleurchamp Tue 12-Jun-18 08:47:52

It depends why he wants to study Law rather than Classics.
If he has a genuine interest in Classics and would enjoy the course then I think he should do that but as pp have said 4 years is a long time to spend doing something you don’t enjoy.
There is a bit of snobbery about studying law - especially as the GDL covers the majority of the core subjects in one year. If he secured a training contract from a big firm they will pay for the GDL and LPC.
Lastly, it may be possible for him to switch to law once he starts at Oxford. I know people who did similar - always easier once your foot is in the door imo.

goodbyestranger Tue 12-Jun-18 08:49:36

My eldest daughter studied law at Wadham and my third daughter studied it at Magdalen, both recently. DD1 went straight into a Magic Circle firm having got an offer after second year vac schemes and the third is currently doing a pupillage in an extremely well regarded set. Neither would say Classics gave any advantage at all in terms of entry but also that it won't hinder. I'm sure they'd also say that Classics at Oxford almost certainly trumps law at Bristol if your DS is looking at the most competitive end of law. I would say the same from my own experience in a Magic Circle firm decades ago. There really is no obvious advantage in a non law subject. If your DS is looking for top end firms or chambers then he needs to get a top degree and have the attributes needed in whichever area he opts for. He might just about manage to persuade the tutors and the faculty to let him switch now but I think a fair few would reckon he was trying back door entry and be a bit dubious frankly. He wouldn't get a firm answer until after results in any event but even then I think not having done the LNAT and not having been assessed in a law interview would mean the chances of switching were almost zero. Much more likely to happen after he gets there but he might well need to interview along with the 2019 applicants and that whole thing might well unsettle him at the start of his time in Oxford. My advice would be to sit tight on what he's got. Law is a really good undergraduate degree but so is Classics and Oxford will undoubtedly help more than subject long term.

goodbyestranger Tue 12-Jun-18 08:52:45

Tell him he can avoid Roman law and jurisprudence if he goes with the Classics offer smile

horsemadmom Tue 12-Jun-18 09:11:52

DD1 is doing English at Oxford and got invited to a bunch of magic circle recruitment events- she has no interest in law but went out of curiosity. Top law firms want people who can think and Classics is a fantastic course for that. DH did it and got loads of offers for banking.

goodbyestranger Tue 12-Jun-18 09:25:49

Yes DS3 got several offers from Magic Circle firms and read History at Oxford, graduating last year. It is actually neutral though. The world isn't divided neatly into sub standard thinkers who read Law and super smart students who read Classics, History, English etc. It's a bit more multi layered than that!

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