Students vote for LLB over GDL

More students believe that doing an LLB makes you a better lawyer than those who believe a GDL offers a more rounded experience.

In answer to the question, ‘Does doing an LLB make you a better lawyer?’, 48.4 per cent of Lawyer 2B readers said that studying the LLB would make a person a better lawyer, saying that knowing every aspect of the law inside out was crucial.

Just 13 per cent said that students who undertook the Graduate Diploma in Law conversion course gained a more rounded experience than LLB graduates and so could offer more, while 38.4 per cent stated that qualifications were not the most most important aspect of being a lawyer and said that personal skills matter more.

The voting followed a recent feature which highlighted that the number of people becoming career-changers was increasing (12 August 2013). In 2009, 14 per cent of students enrolled on the University of Law’s GDL were career changers. Three years on and this figure has risen to 20 per cent. Career-changers now account for more than 16 per cent of those on the Bar Professional Training Course at the University of Law, while 8 per cent of its Legal Practice Course students come from another career.

Comments from readers of the feature offered a snapshot of how contested the GDL vs. LLB argument is.

One said: “If the GDL could scrapped and career changers truly interested in law (rather than money, prestige and ego) had to do the LLB, the job market for lawyers would be much better”, while another commented: “If you want to come to law late, you should do an LLB or something close not the by-the-numbers rote learning on the current GDL.

“The GDL doesn’t pretend to give you legal training – just enough of the answers to get you through. I agree that the GDL needs overhauling, if for no other reason than to stem the overwhelming flow of people trying to become lawyers when there isn’t room.”

One GDL graduate admitted: “I studied the GDL and am in agreement with those who say that it is not fit for purpose. The idea of being able to do a one-year course and be up to speed with someone who has done a three-year LLB is laughable.”

However, one head of litigation reasoned: “An LLB is not a pre-requisite of being a good lawyer in the same way that an MBA does not a good businessman make. When I recruit somebody to my team I am looking for somebody who is going to be a good litigation lawyer. They may have an LLB, they may not,” while another reader added: “Trainees learn far more useful ‘stuff’ about being a good lawyer on their training contract than anyone learns on an LLB, GDL or LPC. Once the contract is completed, I very much doubt non-law NQs are of lesser quality.”