The life of a future trainee – studying towards the GDL & LPC

About half of Pinsent Masons’ Trainee cohort begin their career in Law having initially studied towards a degree in a non-Law related subject.  While this means an extra year of study is required (the Graduate Diploma in Law typically takes 12 months to complete) these students often bring other valuable skills to our business, which help them become successful commercial lawyers.  Katie Stirling who has just completed studying towards both the GDL and the LPC (Legal Practice Course), and who will be joining us as a Trainee Solicitor in our Birmingham office this September, talks about the highs and lows of a demanding two years study.

After completing the GDL and LPC this summer, I now fully appreciate how daunting the process is of applying for training contracts and embarking on two years of legal study.

I studied History at the University of Birmingham and it was during my second year that I decided I wanted to become a commercial lawyer.  After researching the various entry routes into the profession, I became aware that I would have to complete a Law conversion course, known as the Graduate Diploma in Law.

 After researching the GDL I must be honest and admit my concern as to how I would cope embarking on something completely new (I had heard many horror stories about the workload!) and I was even more concerned that law firms would not be interested in employing someone who did not hold a Law degree.  Having done my research though it became clear that this was far from unusual and in my final year of University I was offered a vacation scheme at Pinsent Masons.  

During the placement I saw that in my department a number of the lawyers had come from non-law backgrounds.  By recruiting people from different degree programmes, Pinsents Masons are able to secure a multi-talented and varied workforce.  I really enjoyed the placement and was delighted that the placement led to the offer of a training contract at the firm.

I enrolled on the GDL course at the College of Law, Birmingham.  As I had no prior knowledge about law, I  thought I might struggle to understand the complicated legal principles, or if I would even enjoy studying law!  My fears were soon set aside as the College have a variety of teaching methods in place to ensure everyone can easily follow and understand the course.  In particular, students can access tutorials online, attend workshop classes, and weekly lectures.

 The first day at college was very much like starting school again, there was a nervous energy in the air as people collected their suitcases of books and we acknowledged the fact that we would be studying seven legal subjects, to include Tort (unfortunately not the round cake kind!), Contract, Criminal, Public, Equity & Trusts (honestly not as bad as it sounds!), Land and European Community Law.

At first it may appear that seven new areas of law is a lot for you to get your head around, but by the end of the year you do feel confident in discussing a wide variety of different legal principles, from the elements needed to create a contract, (particularly useful when trying to get a refund from Topshop!) to the elements needed to secure a Murder conviction – I have not had to put this skill to practice yet!

Pinsents Masons remained in touch with me throughout my GDL by arranging a ‘buddy’ system so that any concerns or queries that needed answering could be put to one of the current trainees.  I was also invited to drink evenings at the office, and numerous Law Society social events.

Studying the GDL was a fun and rewarding experience.  I really enjoyed studying something completely different to my Undergraduate degree, that I found so relevant to every day life.  Most importantly, I met some brilliant people whilst studying for the GDL.  The majority of my GDL friends come from non-law backgrounds, having studied many varied degrees, from Spanish, to Construction, to Psychology.  Studying at the College allowed me a fantastic opportunity to network with those who would soon become my future colleagues.  All of which has made me more confident and excited about starting my training contract this September.

If you have any questions about the GDL course in general, or would like to chat about any of the issues raised in my blog please feel free to post a comment and I will be happy to help!