Your 1st Step to Higher Education™
Does a career in law interest you? If so, are you able to perform well under pressure and in high stress environments? Are you a confident communicator and public speaker? Are you prepared to work ruthlessly and sacrifice some aspects of work-life balance? Are you an analytical, creative and critical thinker? Do you enjoy reading extensively?
These are the questions you must ask yourself if you are a prospective law student and contemplating a career in law. Getting a degree in and working in law are certainly not easy. However if you answered “yes” to all the above questions, you are well suited to pursue higher education in law.
For many international students, the UK is a very popular option for university - especially in the field of law. Law in the UK is unique in that it is a three year undergraduate degree. However, it is offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. If, for example, you have already attained a good bachelor’s degree, you are eligible to apply for a one year law conversion course in the UK; you can convert your undergraduate degree in any subject into a degree in law. Access to this type of program is very competitive as well as very demanding, as students must essentially cram three years of law into one year. Undergraduate entry to law programs is by far the most popular option of the two educational pathways mentioned above.
What to do during your JC/A-level years
For a successful application to UK law courses, preparation is key! Furthermore, preparation starts when you’re still in school. The subjects you choose for your last two years are not that important; it is the grades you acquire that really matters. For the best law programs in the UK, you need to be aiming for at least three A’s at A-level. Choose the subjects you enjoy most as these are the ones you will tend to achieve the highest marks for. Unfortunately, many schools in the UK do not count General Paper or Project Work as core A-level subjects.
Fantastic grades are just one aspect of getting into law courses in the UK. In order to prove your interest in law, you need to pursue activities outside of your academics. That means volunteering, interning, shadowing, and gaining valuable work experience, preferably in the field of law (through legal firms, attorney’s offices, government offices, banks, non-profit organizations etc.). Moreover, admissions offices look closely at your commitment to activities and interests outside of school. This means that anything you can do to boost involvement in extracurriculars is worth the effort. Finally, explore your interest in law by reading online academic law journals and reputable newspapers. The more knowledge and experience you acquire in terms of law, the more worthy an applicant you will become.
As if that isn’t enough to ask of students, law programs in the UK require you to take a standardized test called The National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT). This test is required to help the admissions officers differentiate between students whilst taking into account the other aspects of the application. The LNAT does not test your knowledge of law or of any other subject, but the exam measures your critical reasoning skills needed to study law. Once you take the LNAT, the score you attain is only valid for one year. Therefore, plan to take the LNAT the year in which you apply to universities.
For more information on the LNAT please visit http://www.lnat.ac.uk/
The app process
As I’m sure you are well aware, getting into a Law program at a good university in the UK in no easy feat. My best advice is to give yourself lots of time to prepare for your application. For example, writing a brilliant personal statement should take a decent amount of time and needs anywhere between three to six drafts.
To get started on applying to law school in the UK, look no further than UCAS.com, as this is your online application system. UCAS opens on August 1st every year, so your first step is to register with UCAS and receive a UCAS I.D. You will then work on inputting your personal details, sculpting a stellar personal statement, soliciting a great letter of recommendation and so on. UCAS only allows you to apply to five schools for law, so choose wisely. You cannot alter your personal statement to tailor to a certain school, as that one personal statement you write will be sent to all your university choices.
With regard to deadlines, if you are applying for the 2012 intake your UCAS application deadline will be the 15th of January 2012. If you are applying to Oxford or Cambridge for law, the deadline is the 15th of October 2011. Once everything has been submitted on time, you have to wait for responses using the TRACK feature on UCAS. Please be patient with this process as each school will get back to you in its own time.
When you have finally graduated from law school in the UK, further study and qualifications are required to actually practice. Many law students in their final year apply for two year graduate contracts or legal apprenticeships with legal firms in their preferred UK city. To become a qualified solicitor after two years of work experience you need to pass the Legal Practice Course. To become a barrister you need to complete a Bar Professional Training Course.
For more information on Law courses in the UK visit:
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