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To consider law lecturing

67 replies

ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 08:53

I am a solicitor currently working in private practice part time, looking for a change. If I am honest, I do not enjoy giving advice (lack of confidence ; fear of getting it wrong), client demands etc.

Any university lecturers out there teaching the LLb who can comment on working hours, demands, best / worst parts of the job etc (I've avoided looking at tutoring on the legal practice course because it looks as though that course will be scrapped in the near future).

It would be a pay cut and an extra working day - do I take the plunge!


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Mulledwine1 · 09/06/2017 09:02

Do you like presenting and teaching? You could look at the LPC short-term, personally I am totally against the SQE because I don't know how on earth trainee solicitors are meant to find the time to revise for exams when working the hours they do, but I suppose the accountants have done it for years.

I think you need a PhD these days to be a uni lecturer, but it might be that doesn't apply if you are a solicitor.

You could also look at being a PSL - maybe in-house for Lexis or PLC?

Mulledwine1 · 09/06/2017 09:02

PS what is your practice area?

lifeistooshort · 09/06/2017 09:05

No help or insight to offer but I am a solicitor in-house also looking for a change but not knowing what to do so will watch this thread with interest and am wishing you the best of luck

ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 09:11

Thank you all for your replies. I agree about the SQE but it is to big of a risk for me to look at lecturing the LPC. I can't see the undergraduate law degree disappearing anytime soon and feel it is a safer bet. Without any academic insight, I am unsure about working hours, pressures etc.

I thought about in house but my practise area doesn't lend itself well and I feel it will not be dissimilar to my dislikes about private practise...

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ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 09:12

apologies for the spelling errors!

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Dandandandandandandan · 09/06/2017 09:16

Lots of my friends did it when they had kids.

Flexible hours are good. No billable hours and no law firm politics.

Downsides: the first couple of years are v stressful whilst you learn the topics for each session. If you get a difficult group (my friend quit after 6 months of the new trainees for one of the magic circle firms!), they can be incredibly hard work - awkward questions, pack mentality to hunt down the teacher if they sense weakness, immediately blaming you if they fail an exam. If someone leaves you will be expected to take on more sessions with no extra reward. And the pay is terrible compared to private practice.

That being said, only 1 of my friends quit. The others really enjoyed it once they got the first couple of years out of the way and knew what to expect for sessions and questions.

So I would say if confidence is your issue, you might want to stay away from the magic circle fast track trainers in the first instance. But once you're bedded in, it sounds great!

ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 09:29

Thank you for the insight! Yes, pay is a problem. If I do an extra day ie 4 days instead of 3, there shouldn't be much difference in my pay. Plus lots of extra holidays...I am concerned about the lectures, but I think everyone would be nervous of those at first....
I suppose as a solicitor you would have the practice based experience but I am interested in getting into the research side of things later down the line

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Dandandandandandandan · 09/06/2017 09:31

Have you looked at lexis nexis or PLC? That would be a great research role and non client facing?

ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 09:36

Yes but all not within commuting distance unfortunately :(

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Dixiechickonhols · 09/06/2017 09:38

Have you thought teaching law A level ( assume would need pgce?) seems v popular option for 6th form college teens. Also a solicitor, I work part time. Current role suits but I have thought re other options in past.

ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 09:43

It is difficult because my role is great in many ways and flexible but I don't want to continue giving advice/dealing with clients (confidence issues over getting it wrong and my heart isn't in it ) so feel I need to take the opportunity sooner than later to move on

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ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 09:44

A level law seems to be a much bigger pay cut than a university....

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Jenijena · 09/06/2017 09:46

On the holiday thing, lecturers don't just work term time, 5-6 weeks holiday is fairly standard for academic roles.

Dandandandandandandan · 09/06/2017 09:50

I think that's the problem with law lecturing, OP. If you dislike giving advice to clients, imagine this:

You're giving a class on a topic you really don't know that well yourself. Having to persuade a class of 15 or so clever, articulate, competitive 21 year olds that you know more than they do. Some cocky little tool with a first from Cambridge who thinks he's going to be the next head of slaughters has found a tiny obscure and probably incorrect point and he really wants to drill you on it... then the others sniff blood and pile in.

You've got to be quite tough to cope with some classes. Not saying AT ALL that you wouldn't be able to, or that it's all like that; my friends say most classes are delightful and they have a good rapport. But when you get a hard class, once they think they know more than you, it's really really hard.

Could you ask COL or BPP if you could observe a few sessions? Not sure if that's possible but might help!

As for actual lectures, I am pretty sure they are mostly electronic now, not like the old lecture halls we had!

ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 10:03

Good point and I agree that is a concern. I suppose I wouldn't worry about being sued, just my credibility I guess...It is a leap in the dark in some ways. Do you stay with something you don't see as long term ie coast or take a risk and make a change. I'm a nervous person anyway. My husband is of the view, take the chance and if you don't like it move on. Wish I had more of that attitude.

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JohnnyMcGrathSaysFuckOff · 09/06/2017 10:07

Dan is right OP.

Not a lawyer but an academic. You do need to be able to get a room onside. I don't know what your group sizes would be like on LLb but for us on a humanities BA, it is lecture audience of 100-150 then break out seminars of 20-25. You need to be able to stand up and talk happily for 45-55 minutes and hold their attention.

Also would you not need to be research active? Certainly where I am the lawyers have a strong research profile. You may well need to have some eligibility for the REF even if not a full submission (obvs with the Stern review coming up a submission might end up being only a couple of papers anyhow).

Also you would likely need to be involved in recruitment which means keeping an eye on figures, working weekends, being around for clearing if that is applicable.

And no, academics do not get "school holidays" Grin

Dandandandandandandan · 09/06/2017 10:07

If you like law but not private practice, I would speak to a recruitment agent to see what else they have. Look at all the options. A good friend of mine who got sick of private practice managed to land an inhouse role with a big chain of hotels - he absolutely LOVES it (and gets 3 weeks a year free in any of them!!). You might find something you hadn't thought about already that way Smile

onlyjustme · 09/06/2017 10:07

Start by looking at local Universities to see what courses they do and try to get a feel for the numbers of students and staff if you can. Go to an open day to meet the team!

You might have to start on a sessional contract ie only contracted to deliver a set number of hours, rather than walk into a full time teaching role. This can be stressful as you end up effectively working only 24 weeks and have to hope that you are needed again next year... the pay is good when you work but then not so good when you don't, but the flip side is that no work = no childcare fees.

With TEF there are more opportunities for teaching based rather than research based roles (it sounds like you would be keener on the teaching than the research).

Other things to look at might be "law for..." type courses eg "Law for accountants" as they need law people rather than accounting people to properly teach those modules. This might end up being evening or weekend work though. I used to tell myself that it was "only 25 weeks... not even half the year" for the evenings I taught and my students were all working full time jobs as well.

I NEVER take on a topic I don't know about. If I am asked questions on areas I don't know, I am honest and respond with one of "maybe you should research it / ask x who knows about this area".

Life is too short to be doing something you are not happy doing.

Dandandandandandandan · 09/06/2017 10:09

Johnny - there's a big difference between law lecturers in academics such as your colleagues and the tutors on the LPC or GDL. The latter tend to be former solicitors churning out a fixed programme in a year! Not that it's not very hard work for both tutor and student. But it's quite different to being a uni lecturer Smile

JohnnyMcGrathSaysFuckOff · 09/06/2017 10:18

Ah my mistake Smile

Dixiechickonhols · 09/06/2017 10:18

Hols won't be an issue though moving from private practice most ordinary firms are stat minimum in my experience so 4 weeks and bank hols. 6 weeks sounds good to me.
Have you thought about a different area of law or a less demanding role. I do low value stuff I could do in my sleep but the pressure to get in right isn't there and consequences of a fuck up are minimal. Whereas if you are feeling out of your depth and worrying if I get this wrong the 150 million deal will go pearshaped or the paraplegic toddler will not get adequate compensation the pressure is on.
Not sure where you are family wise but a lower salary plus perks like paid maternity leave, paid sick pay not just Ssp can be worth considering too do look at overall package not just figure on salary.

Dixiechickonhols · 09/06/2017 10:22

Other option may be professional support lawyer role so researching and support for team but no client contact. My SIL did it for a bit (city firm)

ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 10:24

Johnny - the trainees and juniors generally like me, I am personable. I am interested in research but to be honest I don't know too much about it and I would like to get to grips with the teaching first.

How is the marking? Is there a scheme to follow?
What are the hours like?
How are the student holidays - still long days? From home ever an option?

Would very much appreciate your insight.
Typical day?

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ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 10:26

Thanks Dixie - yes think of the result of messing up a multi million pound deal, that's my worry. I don't want that all my life.

Agree about overall package and suppose just worried the anxiety over the multi million pound deal will be replaced by something else in academia and digging to make sure there isn't a similar concern!

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ApplesOranges · 09/06/2017 10:27

Dixie - any suggestions over area?

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