Will Doing the GDL Give You an Advantage?
Which qualification is best; the graduate diploma in law or the LLB?
It’s a tough job to be impartial and fair with this question; if you have taken the LLB you’re going to think you’re in a better position compared to a GDL student and vice versa with the GDL student.
Surely it would be a heated debate! Since this is in the GDL section let’s look at some of the top reasons you should do the GDL.
Diversity in education
Not only will you know about the law but you will have a wealth of experience from your other degree. This isn’t just in terms of practical knowledge gained, but also the soft skills you have perfected. Some of these skills may not be taught as much during a legal degree – like critical thinking in philosophy.
It can also be very useful if you want to go into a certain legal area. Business or accounting could be good if you want to go into commercial law or computer science would be beneficial if you aim to become a computer / IT solicitor. Doing the conversion course also shows you have a diverse range of interests. Firms want well rounded individuals – not people who are interested in the law and nothing else.
Talking about your undergraduate course is a great way to demonstrate a diverse range of interests at your training contract interview.
The challenge of the GDL
Quite simply the graduate diploma in law is very hard. Leaning 7 modules of law in one year isn’t going to be a walk in the park, and it may even be harder than the LLB. This is because you are gently eased into the British legal system with a few modules at a time while with the GDL there isn’t much room for error. You need to “get it” straight away; it’s sink or swim.
To get a commendation or distinction you need to have brilliant planning, a very good memory (with all those cases to remember), have sound reasoning skill and posses a great work ethic. If you can get a good grade on the GDL you should (in theory) be able to get an equal grade if you did the LLB since you would be doing a very similar course but with more modules and more time.
The pass rates of the GDL do seem to be on average lower than the LLB course (source), this could again point to the challenge that the GDL presents.
Some magic circle firms endorse the GDL route
“We welcome non law graduates” – type that into google and have a look at the firms which come up. There are some pretty big names in there. Firms certainly don’t discriminates against graduates who have a GDL; they too can see the advantage of having a diverse education. It may even make you stand out from the other LLB candidates.
It could be argued that law firms tend to look more at skills rather than knowledge of the law when recruiting. After all, most of the practical knowledge you will gain will come from the LPC. You need to have a good overview of the the law before the LPC, but law in practice, and law at university are two very different things.
In reality there won’t be much to differentiate a GDL student and an LLB student. Which one will be favoured will come down to matters like the institution they studied at, work experience, interview performance and references. If firms do have a preference then it’s likely that they are after a very specific sort of candidate (like a law student who know about tax).
Forgetting about these GDL v LLB and “the best ways to get into law” questions for a second; we should look at perhaps one of the most obvious reasons for taking the conversion course: Interest. Sometimes people just have a broad range of interests. Someone could want to go into law in the future, but also have a strong interest in history. It’s great (but expensive!) if you can indulge both interests.