• Practise an M&A case study with the TCLA Community. Share your answers in this thread!

Career changer - self-funding GDL to keep momentum whilst applying for TCs next cycle

chromaticaqueen

Star Member
  • Jan 12, 2021
    41
    120
    Hi all,

    Apologies for banging a drum that may already have been heard and answered many times before - but I am also aware of the individuality of everyone's route to becoming a solicitor, including my own, and hoping you wonderful people might be able to provide me with some advice and clarity regarding the following...

    I am a London-based media and entertainment professional working internationally as a live entertainment producer and I am from a non-law background (AAA at A-Level and 2.1 English degree from King's College London). I made the decision 6 months ago to pursue a career change into the law as an aspiring solicitor working towards securing a 2021 vac scheme and 2023 training contract.

    Now, as it stands, I applied to 4 firms for 2021 summer vac schemes and have advanced to the next stages for 2 of those. 1 rejection. 1 yet to hear from. I hope it works out and I secure the summer vac schemes and subsequent training contracts - with the belief that, if successful in my attempts, I will commence a firm-sponsored GDL in Sept 2021, LPC in Sept 2022 before commencing the training contract in 2023. But if it doesn't, I hate the idea of waiting another year to secure anything or potentially face more rejections and delays. I'm already working to secure more legal work experience between now and the summer coming as a contingency for future applications and am due to start at the Citizen's Advice Bureau next week.

    However, I also have the following idea which I'm proposing for your opinion... if I don't get on a vac scheme and secure a TC this summer... What if I were to self-fund a GDL to start in Sept 2021? I would potentially do it part-time so that I will be able to continue working commercially and hopefully have a bit of time to get some more work experience in throughout my studies to strengthen my applications for the following year (as well as the GDL showing my commitment to the cause and giving me the legal understanding to write better applications etc)? I'm thinking - and correct me if I'm wrong - that this would mean that if I were to secure a TC from a vac scheme in summer 2022 to start in Sept 2024, because I would be doing the GDL part-time, I would just continue my 2nd year of GDL studies in Sept 2022 then do the sponsored LPC with the other incoming trainees in Sept 2023, in time for commencing the TC in Sept 2024. Does this make sense for feasibility as well as something that would allow me to keep the momentum up and not waste time whilst gaining the knowledge and skills required from the GDL?

    Apologies for the length and complexity of this question. It took me a long time to work this out myself but I think it could be a really clever way to utilise my time in my TC journey whilst gaining the appropriate knowledge and appearing as a committed candidate? I could be totally wrong and perhaps my time would be better spent continuing to work commercially and gain legal work experience alongside my current job whilst applying in the next cycles... And then this also brings in the issue of the SQE and what that could mean for me if I start a GDL and secure a TC etc... Ideally, I will be successful in my vac scheme apps this summer and all will be merry - but I always need to have a backup plan!

    I would love to hear from any of you who would be kind enough to advise me on my plan or a better one! Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    @Jessica Booker @Jaysen

    :)
     

    Jessica Booker

    Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    Aug 1, 2019
    10,584
    15,715
    The LPC will exempt you for SQE1 but the GDL on its own will not. It will very much depend on what type of firms you are aiming for and whether they are looking to start SQE training contracts from 2024 onwards - it seems many firms are, purely because any non-law students graduating in 2022 won't have any choice but to the SQE.

    The risk with doing the GDL part-time is that you won't get in before 2024. If anything my suggestion would be to potentially look at doing the GDL full-time so you could start a TC in 2023 before many firms convert to the SQE route. But that's just my personal opinion and that may not be practical for many people.

    You don't need to make any hard commitment now though - the likes of BPP and UoL will be selling their GDL courses in August still, so don't get too caught up in their marketing ploys of signing up now if you are not sure. You have got a good 5 months to see how applications go first before making any commitment.
     
    • ℹ️
    Reactions: chromaticaqueen

    chromaticaqueen

    Star Member
  • Jan 12, 2021
    41
    120
    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and get back to me.

    I totally understand your point. My only question, which is probably a general one, is will it be a waste of time and money doing the GDL if we everyone qualifying to become a solicitor will have to do the SQE anyway over the next couple years? I'm still trying to get my head around the differences with the SQE. Simply put, if it would be more beneficial to hold off seeking any form of legal education (GDL) as a non-law graduate, and instead focusing on gaining legal work experience and securing a TC which would then lead me to the SQE/GDL/LPC anyway, I'd rather wait. But if there is value in doing a GDL full-time (which I could afford and manage), I would do that in Sept 2021 to strengthen app and keep the momentum going - as well as giving me a bit of independence in my legal career destiny (but will hold off until after summer, as you say). And how will one find out which firms are going to start SQE training from Sept 2024? Effectively, I want to utilise my time most efficiently to get me to a TC ASAP - at the ripe old age of 25 I would love to be on my way soon. 😂

    I really appreciate your honesty on this one! Thank you. :)
     

    Alison C

    Legendary Member
    Gold Member
    Premium Member
    Forum Winner
  • Nov 27, 2019
    173
    382
    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and get back to me.

    I totally understand your point. My only question, which is probably a general one, is will it be a waste of time and money doing the GDL if we everyone qualifying to become a solicitor will have to do the SQE anyway over the next couple years? I'm still trying to get my head around the differences with the SQE. Simply put, if it would be more beneficial to hold off seeking any form of legal education (GDL) as a non-law graduate, and instead focusing on gaining legal work experience and securing a TC which would then lead me to the SQE/GDL/LPC anyway, I'd rather wait. But if there is value in doing a GDL full-time (which I could afford and manage), I would do that in Sept 2021 to strengthen app and keep the momentum going - as well as giving me a bit of independence in my legal career destiny (but will hold off until after summer, as you say). And how will one find out which firms are going to start SQE training from Sept 2024? Effectively, I want to utilise my time most efficiently to get me to a TC ASAP - at the ripe old age of 25 I would love to be on my way soon. 😂

    I really appreciate your honesty on this one! Thank you. :)
    Hi @chromaticaqueen

    Please be clear, there is nothing "old" about 25. No, not even those tiny smile lines. The AVERAGE age of qualification is c 30. So if doing the GDL full time is going to enable you to show commitment and basically be in the same place as current law grads, and you can afford it, absolutely go for it. If you do certain GDL/MA courses they tack on an extra month and give you a Masters qualification that you can get a govt loan for, should that be of interest. Though then, of course, you would be exempt from the possibility of an LPC loan if that became the obvious next step.

    Do your research. Look at online resources and legal influencer opinions regarding the SQE. Talk to some law firm HRs if you can. Take the temperature. (My feeling would be that it's going to take a few years to iron things out.) But be clear that the GDL is pretty full-on and you may find applications alongside are also tricky. I guess you would start full-time in September?

    You could avoid the GDL/LPC changeover and start as a paralegal, then do the SQE, or do the GDL part-time as you suggest, though my own feeling is that this is not going to be straightforward. Jobs in the current climate are not so easily obtained.

    Hope that helps. Do your research, then just leap. Congratulations for being on track!
     
    Last edited:

    AspiringSol

    Esteemed Member
    Future Trainee
    Junior Lawyer 6
    Nov 9, 2020
    92
    397
    I was struggling with the same problem, I think the GDL or some form of it will be necessary whether or not you’re doing the SQE bc it provides the basic legal foundation to pass the exams. Also if you enrol before August, you still have the option of doing the LPC until 2030. I’m probably wrong but I feel like a lot of firms will want to have trainees still take the old route just bc the SQE is so underdeveloped

    I started the PGDL/LLM at BPP in January and it’s been beneficial in just giving me that sense of direction and momentum. I’ve also improved my commercial awareness bc the way the course is structured is basically applying the law to help clients. One thing tho is that the exams may potentially clash with vac scheme dates esp for winter if you start in september so that could be a problem.

    Also you can always start as PT/FT student and then just change later if you get a job or decide to just go for the full time course. I think the unis are pretty flexible in that respect. :)
     

    About Us

    The Corporate Law Academy (TCLA) was founded in 2018 because we wanted to improve the legal journey. We wanted more transparency and better training. We wanted to form a community of aspiring lawyers who care about becoming the best version of themselves.

    Newsletter

    Discover the most relevant business news, access our law firm analysis, and receive our best advice for aspiring lawyers.