Is it really worth it?

Darren Fitzpatrick

As an A Level student, I am in the midst of the fiasco which comes from the rise in tuition fees with suggestions and advice flying everywhere but none of it seems relevant, and as of yet, like some of you I have no idea what I will be doing this time in two years.

With most universities in England charging the maximum tuition fees of £9,000, and all of them asking for at least £6,000 its not surprising to hear students like me questioning “Is it really worth it?”

And with UCAS reporting the lowest number of Applications in many years to Higher Education in September 2012, it is obvious to see that the rise in fees has scared prospective students away. However, for aspiring lawyers such as myself, It seems as if there is no other choice but to face up to the fees.

As some courses last four years and many potential lawyers will have years more of studying on top, it has forced us to evaluate our future before we’re even 18. Being asked to price our education is a tough ordeal to go through, especially for law students where it could mean everything.

I’m only 16 years old and the idea of having this weight on my shoulders makes me absolutely terrified with no sense of what’s the norm anymore, its no wonder we’re confused and feel on our own.

However, many students have no idea of the options open to them other than university. With vocational qualifications opening up new worlds, it was not long before the Legal Sector was to get involved. Launching into National Apprenticeship Week, BPP Law School revealed new Apprenticeships to start in September 2012 making new opportunities for school Leavers in Accounting and Business with chances to progress down a paralegal route. Numbers of Law Firms such as Eversheds, Norton Rose and Gordons have also made way for the new Vocational qualifications in the past year once again increasing the outreach of the legal sector and demonstrating that we don’t need to go to university to have a career in law.

The paralegal route into the legal profession is becoming a more popular option in recent years with the idea of “no legal qualifications required” sounding attractive, however it may be hard to enter the professionalism this way, once in, paralegals have the chance to move up to the top just like qualified lawyers considering they are good enough. A paralegal route might be the option if young people don’t like the idea of going through years of legal training, however employers may seek specific pathways or qualifications to make up for the lack of legal training and the selection process can be very tough with not many vacancies and thousands of applicants.

Another very respectable body, the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) represents 22,000 qualified and trainee Legal Executives and is recognised as one of the three core routes to becoming a qualified lawyer. ILEX offers many qualifications in different career options such as Legal Apprenticeships and many different classifications of Paralegal Qualifications. Some of these courses require entry qualifications however many can be accessed by School leavers with no qualifications giving even the most disadvantaged of pupils the chance to access Legal Education.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t completely rule out an undergraduate degree just because of the increase in fees, if you want to complete a degree programme whether it is an LLB in Law or a BSc in Veterinary Sciences then go for it, but think of the short and long-term effects.

A degree might hurt our bank account in the near future, however long term it could do us wonders with City law firms offering up to £100k to newly qualified solicitors. On the other hand, solicitors in magic circle firms and any other large firms could find themselves working long hard hours and the application and interview process can be vigorous but that’s because they want the best!

Overall, with the ever expanding legal sector, opportunities are endless, Graduate or Not, there is an opening for everyone in the legal profession and University Tuition fees can easily be avoided if needs be. In my opinion, whether looking for a career in the legal profession or not, we should take every chance with both hands and do whatever they can to achieve their targets.

I definitely will be doing so!

Tuition, £9,000 a year

Accommodation, £6,500 a year

Social Life, £3.000 a year

A Lifetime of Debt? Priceless

Darren Fitzpatrick