Choosing the right UK university for your law degree doesn’t need to be a difficult process, let’s take it back to basics…
It will be no surprise to you that law degrees have always been – and probably always will be – one of the most sought-after and respected degrees to study at university. Learning to become a lawyer is a notoriously challenging process, but one that rewards students with numerous skills that could be host to a variety of professional paths.
A law degree – wherever you study it – meets every aspect of human life, including politics, business, human rights, trade, international relations and the environment, to name a few.
Similar to any academic degree, your law course will start with core modules that are compulsory to give you a concrete underlying knowledge of the subject. The opportunity to discover other law topics will be available to you later in your degree – but what specifically should you be looking for when making your university choices?
Here are three things that a desirable UK university will include in their law degree:
Theory and practice combined
Behind the land of law lies a lot of theory, which we’re sure will come as no surprise to you. A law degree requires you to learn the precise details in legislation and a wider view of how different areas can affect your cases. While there’s no doubt that a lot of time will be spent in the library with your head buried in various textbooks learning the theories of law, your degree will involve other learnings.
Yes, theory is important, but it shouldn’t stand alone. Law as a profession requires more than just written work, which is why some universities will have a mock courtroom and the opportunity for mooting for vocational practice, and a taster of what it’s like to stand up in court.
Many law schools will also give you access to previous case files which demonstrates how law theory is applied to fight different arguments. Through a blend of theory and practice you’ll finish university more prepared for further higher education or your first associate job (after passing the bar).
An opportunity for specialism
As you’ll be aware, law degrees will cover a wide range of subjects to provide a solid foundation and understanding of human society and the law. Once you have a strong grasp of the main principles – normally after your first year – the right university and the right programme will allow you to tailor your studies to suit your own interests.
For a budding lawyer, choosing a specialism while at university is a pretty major career decision, so make sure that you research, research and research! Ask yourself, what are you really interested in? What type and size of firm do you eventually want to work at? What work experience can your programme offer that will back up your decision?
Charlotte Bown, an associate at Watson Farley & Williams had this to say with regards to choosing a law specialism:
“Work experience is unbeatable as a way to find the kind of career that suits you. It doesn’t even have to be in the practice area which most interests you. Even if you decide that the areas you experienced during the placement were not for you, your opinion and understanding will be much more informed. It will also help your training contract applications.”
A good university will offer help and guidance throughout your degree! If you already have an idea of what you’d like to specialize in, make sure that the programme structure of the university lists it as an option!
Practice with pro bono
Pro bono work is a great way of providing integral services to people who are in need, and an excellent way for law students to gain some real-life legal experience (which can set you apart from the competition).
You’ll sacrifice valuable time, effectively for free, but what you’ll gain is worth so much more. A recent survey indicated that ‘80% of HR specialists at a group of leading law firms were most impressed by CVs which showed evidence of pro bono work.’ They actually ranked pro bono higher than additional qualifications and paralegal experience.
Law is a competitive subject, and you need to set yourself apart from other budding lawyers! So look for the universities that offer the opportunity to get involved with pro bono work (even if it’s extra to your degree) and grab every case you can! You won’t regret it.
Your guide to UK law programmes
Whether you’re looking for a career as a practicing lawyer or as a legal consultant in another profession, our UK partner universities offer plenty of excellent programmes that can help further your career goals.
To help find your perfect university fit we have created a partner university guide for Canadian students. This guide includes information on the programmes, law school, opportunities for the future, and testimonials from the students themselves. If you’d like to learn more about UK universities where you could study a law degree, download your copy of the Studying law in the UK: Partner university guide for Canadian students here.