Graduate Diploma in Law

(55 Posts)
trivialtrivia Thu 13-Dec-18 22:04:52

Hello there, my dd is a first year studying English at Oxford. She has her eye on completing the GDL after finishing her current degree, with view to becoming a lawyer of some sorts.

It is my understanding that if you're an out of this world applicant then big city law firms would be willing to pay for it. What are the chances of this?

How does it work if one wants to become a barrister?

OP’s posts: |
EssentialHummus Thu 13-Dec-18 22:12:51

Sorry for the very brief reply but she should not do the GDL unless she has secured a training contract and ideally has the firm paying for her course. Most medium+ firms will pay for the GDL and LPC. She needs to start attending law fairs etc to get a sense of the various firms, practice areas and opportunities available.

DragonMamma Thu 13-Dec-18 22:17:10

Some firms will pay for the GDL and LPC but she would need to be an out of this world candidate applying to seriously competitive firms. What Uni is she attending?

Firms paying for these courses are ustalkt when they’ve successfully obtained an offer of a training contract.

I not heard of chambers sponsoring students but AFAIK the Inns of Court have scholarships for the GDL and BPTC would be her best bet.

Perhaps she could look at qualify as a solicitor and obtain Higher Rights, further down the line if she enjoys advocacy?

Bluntness100 Thu 13-Dec-18 22:17:30

I don't understand why she shouldn't do it.

I would recommend doing it and applying for training contracts, she still needs to do the lpc after she does the gdl.

goodbyestranger Thu 13-Dec-18 22:31:48

trivialtrivia what is it about commercial law that appeals to your DD? She shouldn't go for a City firm unless she positively wants to do that sort of law, and it's an acquired taste. I was at a Magic Circle firm and my eldest daughter went to one too, having read Law at Oxford. One of my sons also has a Training Contract for one (he read History at Oxford) - he's currently doing the GDL. The funding is very attractive (all the fees plus a maintenance grant) but it comes with strings attached - you need to repay it under certain circumstances so you can't just get the courses paid for and then shoot off with impunity. Another daughter is a barrister She read Law so didn't need to do the GDL but the fees for the BPTC are astronomical so needed scholarships to see her through. She got a large one of c £20,000 from her Inn and another from her provider of c £3000, so there are funds about. She needs to play to her strengths though in terms of solicitor/ barrister, not merely follow the funds.

00kitty Thu 13-Dec-18 22:38:02

I did the GDL a few years back (out of my own pocket) My advice would be to apply for summer placements etc and training contracts as early as possible. If she hopes to be sponsored to do it (out of the 22 on my course all had paid their own GDL fee) she really needs to stand out from the crowd, get varied work exp and voluntary work - this stands for getting TC's too - it is a highly competitive industry

00kitty Thu 13-Dec-18 22:40:31

Essential hummus gives good advice. We were all mature students bar one and only 5/22 went on to secure training contracts and work in law


goodbyestranger Thu 13-Dec-18 22:43:56


1. You do not need to be 'out of this world'. That's ridiculously exaggerated.

2. Oxford - it's stated in the original post.

3. Some chambers give enormous sums of money (DD got c. £50,000), some of which (a small proportion) can be drawn down for the training years, but you have to get the pupillage first, and that's extremely rare prior to the GDL. The strategy is: Inns of Court scholarship plus provider scholarship too if possible, then Chambers Pupillage Award, drawing down part for the BPTC year. It's expensive, the Bar.

4. Solicitor's work and being at the Bar are quite different occupations.

DragonMamma Thu 13-Dec-18 23:35:43


1. I was echoing the OPs language but I’ve never known anybody with a mediocre degree from an ex-poly and (for example) securing a TC with funding.

2. My mistake. Painkillers and day surgery!

3. Good to know, I can’t see that I’ve said anything to the contrary. I did say AFAIK; I know substantially more solicitors than I do barristers therefore I’m not as familiar with opportunities for sponsorship as I am with the former.

4. I know this but it was just another suggestion for the OP’s daughter to look in to. I come across many students who aren’t necessarily aware of this.

I’m unsure why you’ve picked on my response to the OP. It was hardly rude or inflammatory and intended to helpful hmm

DragonMamma Thu 13-Dec-18 23:38:29

Perhaps your view us skewed somewhat because you’ve done well at law and your DC clearly haven’t struggled either.

I’m sure you’re aware that the majority of people who want to be a solicitor or barrister don’t actually get to qualify in their chosen profession. It’s not always that straightforward for most.

justanotherprolapse Fri 14-Dec-18 00:04:07

I paid to do my lpc. Interviewed and obtained a training contract whilst in my final year of degree. Moved firms on qualification and am now at a firm that pays vast amounts of fees and maintenance to its prospective trainees and take an active role in the their recruitment.

Try and get the fees paid but it's not the end of the road if you can't.

BasiliskStare Fri 14-Dec-18 02:55:54

DS graduated this year from Oxford and doing GDL - other posters here have better advice , but my vicarious advice from him is

1. There are plenty of evening / talks / visits re law at Oxford - she should go to those and yes decide which route ( either a big law firm or the bar ( or indeed other ) - that may inform her choice of how to take the next step)

2. Depending on finances - there are GDL courses which are potentially commutable from home if her living at home is an option and you can get a bursary / scholarship from the course provider or an Inn. Doesn't cover the whole lot but makes a decent dent in the cost - so Ds has friends in different parts of the country on various GDL courses who are doing this .

goodbyestranger Fri 14-Dec-18 07:58:12

DragonMamma you made some points which were incorrect ('out of this world'); you were also wooly about the Bar, about which I'm reasonably up to date on funding. Also, since trivialtrivia was asking specifically about the Magic Circle type of firm, I'm in a position to know if you have to be 'out of this world' and on that, I can confirm a resounding 'no you do not'. (There's a fairly wide gap between 'mediocre degree from an ex-poly' (your example) and 'out of this world' and the Magic Circle Training Contracts are overwhelming awarded to mere mortals). Info about High St firms isn't especially relevant to the original post, which is overwhelmingly about Magic Circle/ funding.

justanotherprolapse when you say 'it's not the end of the road' if you don't get your fees funded can I just say it is if you can't afford to pay them.

DragonMamma Fri 14-Dec-18 09:02:23

My comments weren’t incorrect in the slightest, they just don’t echo your own experiences.

All the solicitors I know that trained at MC firms are either Oxbridge grads or had firsts from high ranking RU universities with good solid legal work experience, volunteering etc. I’d say that puts them up there with the most exceptional candidates on the market right now.

According to the Law Society, over 26k students enrolled to read law in England and Wales last year. There were less than 6k TC’s registered. The BSB states there were less than 500 pupillages on offer. When competition is so stiff, why would firms or chambers take anybody but the best of applicants on offer?

If you know MC firms that are taking applicants with ‘lesser degrees’ and experience then that would please me no end, and I’m sure they do take the odd trainee who doesn’t fit the mould but those I know who trained with them largely fit the profile above.

Also, at no point didn’t profess to be the font of all knowledge on funding for the bar, hence the ‘AFAIK’ on the small amount I did offer up 🙄

Clearly you and your DC have done exceptionally well to succeed in your chosen career paths, given only 25% of students achieve what you four have.

I see so many decent, academically sound students who can’t get a TC or Pupillage - let alone those with decent, comprehensive funding plus heavy maintenance grants.

Namechangeforthiscancershit Fri 14-Dec-18 09:13:11

It’s definitely not just MC (type) firms who are paying for the GDL/LPC. Loads of mid size regional firms are too (I would know!).

I’ve worked with plenty of people with a mediocre degree from an ex-poly and (for example) securing a TC with funding and they have all gone on to do very well. I also know a lot of people who are at MC or just below firms with 2.2s for example. There is nothing exceptional about the vast majority of MC trainees, not least because they have to recruit so many.

TCs are hard to get, sure, but by no means impossible, and if someone as mediocre as me had a good number of offers for TCs with funding then there is plenty of hope.

The position with aspiring barristers is very different. I know a couple of people who had awards from their Inn but they were few and far between, and nowhere near enough to cover the GDL fees and living expenses. I’m sure it helped though.

Namechangeforthiscancershit Fri 14-Dec-18 09:21:18

Clearly you and your DC have done exceptionally well to succeed in your chosen career paths, given only 25% of students achieve what you four have

I think it’s misleading though to look at undergraduate law statistics against TCs. So many people decide against a career in law for good reasons (2 of the 5 apprentice finalists this year have law degrees they didn’t ever use). There were about 50 of us in my year on the GDL and only 2 of us were fully funded at that point (due to poor advice on needing to apply two years in advance but that’s another story) and I can’t think of anyone now who’s not qualified one way or another. Some will have done CILEX I imagine not a TC but we’re all solicitors or barristers now. So Facebook tells me anyway.

goodbyestranger Fri 14-Dec-18 09:35:07

I think given how few 2.2s are awarded these days Namechange, you might be exaggerating the other way about the ease of landing a Magic Circle TC!

For context, when I got a TC back in the '80's, no-one in my intake had a 2.2 and the majority were from Oxbridge.

Namechangeforthiscancershit Fri 14-Dec-18 10:06:04

The ones I’m thinking of are Oxbridge to be fair, but there were tons of 2.2s when I was at university!

Namechangeforthiscancershit Fri 14-Dec-18 10:07:11

My ex was one of them so I definitely know his grades. And they weren’t great by any means. Then nor was his work so they may have regretted their choice!

EssentialHummus Fri 14-Dec-18 10:09:14

Re-visiting this thread now that I'm in front of my computer. (For background, I worked in a Magic Circle, then international, then ££££ US firm, and now work for myself helping graduates land legal and other jobs - so I see 3-4 candidates at this stage daily, which obviously informs my views about what they should be doing to maximise their chances of securing a training contract.)

You don't need to be a superstar to land a "Magic Circle" or equivalent job, though some firms will get much more excited about 1:1 candidates or those with strong language skills than others. What you do need is a sustained, demonstrable commitment to law and (barring exceptional circumstances) a 2:1. Yes, candidates with 2:2s land training contracts at all sorts of firms, but it's more difficult to do so.

At your daughter's stage, she shouldn't imo be thinking about paying for the GDL - she has enough time to apply for roles in a way that will secure her sponsorship from a firm. The GDL is near-useless unless candidates go on to train in legal roles, so going into it without a legal role lined up isn't a good idea in my experience.

What she should be doing now:
Getting in touch with some of the law firm "campus ambassadors" (there are lots at Oxford) to ask about upcoming events - law fairs, meeting firm reps, debates, commercial talks, evenings out. She should get these in her diary, attend them, and use them as an opportunity to learn more about life at these firms and in particular practice areas. (She should also try to go in with her eyes open - if what she learns is that Firm X requires all trainees to spend a year doing mindless corporate fact-checking daily from 9am to gone midnight, is that something she's happy with for the money? What does she want her career to look like in 2,5,10 years?) When/if she applies for these firms she's in a much better position for being able to say that she met Sally from HR and trainee Bob at event X and enjoyed speaking with them about Y.

Getting legal work experience - approaching firms close to home for holiday experience, even if it's just shadowing staff and making the tea. It's good for her CV and to build up her understanding of what lawyers in this or that field do day to day. Also learning key dates by which she needs to apply for spring/summer vacation schemes with the larger law firms for 2019.

Getting other work experience if she doesn't have any - any role can be useful - working at Tesco develops customer service skills, waitressing shows ability to work under pressure and maintain high standards of service etc, some admin jobs build attention to detail.

Researching pro bono or general volunteering roles she can take on - again, useful skill building and great for her CV.

Joining legal and related clubs and societies.

There's a lot more but that would be my initial advice.

goodbyestranger Fri 14-Dec-18 10:13:09

Namechange same, hence the context. No 2.2s in my cohort. Obviously the cohorts are larger now, but I don't think the quality is diluted (my DC are more able than me).

Namechangeforthiscancershit Fri 14-Dec-18 10:34:05

I read that as us having the same ex- in which case bad luck!

Xenia Fri 14-Dec-18 12:28:05

Esssential has good advice above. My daughter did not go to Oxbridge and did not get a first and had a paid for GDL and LPC although she got a good 2/1 and went to a good university and had high GCSE and A level grades.
There is a list here of some universities good firms recruit from

In my view if you have veyr low exam grades and can only get into an ex poly I am not sure it is fair on the public to let you loose on people just as we would not want someone with a fairly low IQ doing our brain surgery surely?

My daughters are London lawyers and both did the GDL. I have 2 children at university although htey don't know yet what they want to do.

As someone said above do these kinds of tihngs to help you - I read law, I worked in a law centre for 2 years at univesrity, I took part in moots, I did some work experience at a law firm - none of thse useful requirements has really changed in 50 years as to what it is wise to do.

Timing is something some students don't realise. So this student in September 2019 after year 1 is over should start applying for summer 2020 vacation schemes at law firms who might pay her GDL and LPC fees. Those schemes will be a week or two at the Easter or summer of her second year and are paid - abotu£400 a week and from those many trainees are chosen. if you don't apply you don't get chosen so a lot of work needs to be put into those applications an not 2 minutes before you graduate. The bigger law firms all have their deadlines on their websites for who applies when. So she would apply in Sept 19 for summer 2020 vacation scheme and then apply after that for a training contract hopefully having impressed that firm and must do it all in time - firms' deadlines differ a bit.

Now we have a very big question. The year above her (my twins' year) for those not reading law is possibly the last under the current system and her year may be the first moved into the new exam system of SQE parts 1 and 2. I would continue as normal for now in the hope the new exams and system will be delayed yet again.

As for 2/2s in my law degree I applied and my training contract was conditional on getting a 2/1 in my 1982 final degree (which i did manage at a time when only one third of graduates got a 2/1 or higher).

goodbyestranger Fri 14-Dec-18 13:36:50

The advice is all very sensible however it's neither necessary nor sufficient.

My DS - who certainly won't be alone in this - never went to any of the Law things at Oxford, didn't moot and didn't do any vac schemes but did get offers from two out of the two Magic Circle firms that he applied to after graduation. He had no ambitions in that direction and in fact had a good banking job lined up but then changed his mind at the very last minute. I don't mean it's easy to get into these firms, but rather that if you have the right qualities then they'll take you on.

The medical threads always say do years of voluntary work, hospital placements etc but it's the same thing - doing that won't get you an offer and not doing it won't prevent an offer either. Just be sure it's your thing, that's all, don't flog yourself doing this stuff to impress, because in itself it won't impress.

Xenia Fri 14-Dec-18 15:49:40

Although most people are recruited frmo the vacation schemes and those are paid and only had a week or two of your time during the holidays so they are hardly onerous (and my daughter did not do one and still had a paid for GDL/LPC so I agree with you on that). The other advantage of doing them is that you can see what the job is like. If you've never been in a solicitors office (or any other office for difference careers either) then you are less likely to know what it's like to work in one. My medical sibling did a bit of work in a hospital and I don't think it did them any harm to have that experience.

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