A law degree is not a prerequisite to becoming a lawyer. More and more non-law graduates are joining the profession (in fact, these days only around 50% of trainees studied law at university), and virtually any degree is acceptable. Some non-law degrees are regarded as particularly useful for specialist areas of the law, a science background can be useful to specialist IP lawyers, for example.
The downside of not studying a law degree is that you’ll have to acquaint yourself with law via the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) – a course which squeezes into one year the seven foundations of legal knowledge that are compulsory for progressing to the vocational stage of training. Concentrating three years of study into just one means that, by most accounts, it’s quite an intense experience! It is also an extra year of study so bear in mind the extra fees and living costs.
The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) is the vocational stage of training that must be completed if you wish to become a barrister. It is a one-year, practical course, designed to provide training that is specific to the work of a junior barrister (a two-year, part-time course is also available at some law schools).
Some leading universities require you to complete an entrance exam if you wish to study law.
The LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law)
The following universities require you to sit the LNAT: Birmingham, Bristol, Durham, Glasgow, Kings, Nottingham, Oxford, and UCL.
It is designed to be a test of aptitude rather than educational achievement. The skills that you need to do well in the LNAT are also the skills that you need to do well in legal education. It is used alongside standard methods of selection such as A’ Level (or their global equivalent) results, university applications, and admissions interviews. The test measures the following verbal reasoning skills:
The LNAT cannot be revised for, although those taking it will benefit from familiarising themselves with the style and format of the test.
The LNAT is a 2¼ hour test in two sections:
Section A consists of 42 multiple choice questions. The questions are based on 12 argumentative passages, with 3 or 4 multiple choice questions on each. Candidates are given 95 minutes to answer all of the questions.
For Section B, candidates have 40 minutes to answer one of three essay questions on a range of subjects and demonstrate their ability to argue economically to a conclusion with a good command of written English.
You can practice the LNAT at www.lnat.ac.uk.
Cambridge Law Test
Cambridge University requires you to sit their test, once you have been asked for interview. Nearly all colleges use it. All applicants who sit the test will be asked to answer one question in one hour. Individual colleges will select, from a centrally-set bank of questions, the particular question or questions which appear on their test papers. Three types of questions will be made available to the Colleges, although most Colleges will use only one of the three types:essay, problem or compreshension. Get practice tests HERE
Whichever type of question you are asked to attempt, you will not be expected to have any prior knowledge of the law. Specimen questions are available on the Cambridge university web site.
To obtain a place at a leading university, you will increase your chances if you gain some relevant work experience. Write or visit your local solicitors practice and see whether you can secure some work experience during the holidays. Projects Abroad offer overseas voluntary placements for pre university students wishing to study law and interested in human rights. Pinsent Mason offers a gap year placement. Numerous barristers chambers offer work experience weeks.
View Work Experience Opportunities
Withy KingWithy KingLondon
Pinsent Masons – Work Experience ProgrammePinsent MasonsUk Wide
Matrix Chambers – Work Experience ProgrammeMatrix ChambersLondon
Hardwicke – work experienceHardwickeLondon
FootAnstey – 2 day placementFootAnsteyPlymouth
Fletchers Solicitors – Work Experience OpportunitiesFletchers SolicitorsManchester, Merseyside
Exchange Chambers – Work ExperienceExchange ChambersLiverpool
EvershedsSutherland – Unlocked ProgrammeEvershedsSutherlandUK Wide
Berwin Leighton Paisner -Career Kick StartBerwin Leighton PaisnerLondon
Thomson Snell & Passmore – work experienceThomson Snell & PassmoreKent