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Do you still need a law degree to be a lawyer?

Hands up if you are a lawyer who completed a law degree? Hands up non-law degree lawyers? It seems the latter are getting the recognition they deserve. We are finding an increasing number of lawyers who have completed a different degree and then completed the law conversion course prior to their LPC. The obvious disadvantage to this is the cost of another year of study and the fees incurred. On the flip side, law firms are increasingly finding that non-law degree applicants can bring a different approach to the table. In addition, if you are able to secure a training contract with a larger practice, they are in many instances able to sponsor you through the GDL through paying your fees and a maintenance grant.

Some argue that a law degree is beneficial in making you start thinking like a lawyer and honing your analytical skills; something that is unlikely to be achieved in one year of a law conversion course. http://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/take-law-into-your-own-hands-law-conversion-or-law-degree-8897184.html I would disagree with that as I know many lawyers with, for example, history or geography degrees practising highly complex and technical areas of law with no detrimental effect to the development of their analytical skills.

Are there any benefits to learning all about ‘mens rea’ and the principals in Donoghue V Stevenson[1932] AC 562 House of Lords in your first year of university? Many of the subjects taught during an undergraduate law degree seem to be more for academic purposes. I personally wish I had followed my heart and done a degree in history, and saved my legal learning for post graduate study. Certain legal disciplines gain a distinct advantage from a non-law degree, for example IP lawyers with science based degrees, or clinical negligence lawyers with medical degrees. Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption commented that “the study of history or classics, or the study of something that comes close to pure logic, like mathematics, is at least as valuable a preparation for legal practice as the study of law.” As a history graduate himself, it certainly does not seem to have hampered his career! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9384619/The-best-lawyers-are-not-law-graduates-claims-judge.html

Indeed in the modern day quest of promoting diversity, and ensuring all lawyers are not cut from identikit cloth, I think all teams can benefit from individuals with varied academic backgrounds.

For more information please contact Sharan Kokri or visit our website BCL Legal.

 

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