Should I Study Law?

Law degree programmes are some of the most competitive and rewarding courses in the world, so it’s no wonder thousands of students consider applying every year. However, it can be hard to find free and reliable information and advice that you can use to help you decide whether you should apply to Law or not.

At The Profs, our experts have worked with hundreds of Law applicants and more than 90% of our students get into their first or second choice universities. Using their many years of experience working with these students, we’ve put together this quick guide based on six questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether you should study Law.

1. Do you have the right grades?

The first thing to consider when thinking about whether you should apply to study Law is whether you have the right grades. The grade requirements for Law vary but are usually on the higher end of universities’ standard entry requirements due to the competitiveness of the programmes. The table below shows the top UK universities for Law, according to the QS World University Rankings (2022), and their entry requirements.

UK rankingUniversityEntry requirements (A levels)
1OxfordAAA
2CambridgeA*AA
3London School of Economics (LSE)A*AA
4University College London (UCL)A*AA
5King’s College LondonA*AA
6Edinburgh*A*AA-AAA
7Queen Mary University of LondonA*AA
8DurhamA*AA
9ManchesterA*AA
10BristolA*AA or A*A*B

*Scottish universities offer specific Scots Law LLBs which allows students to qualify to study a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice and become a solicitor in Scotland. You cannot become a solicitor in Scotland without studying Scots Law.

There are many universities that admit students with lower grades than those listed in the table above. Many top universities ask for AAA, however the most common entry requirements are ABB, and some universities will also accept lower grades than this. You should aim to apply for the best Law degree possible, however researching and applying to a mixture of courses that have a range of entry requirements is advisable.

2. Have you researched available courses?

There are a range of Law courses available that can lead to a range of different paths, so it’s important to do your research. At undergraduate level, there are two main types of Law degree: LLB (Bachelor of Laws) and BA Law. Typically, a BA (Bachelor of Arts) is an academic degree with a focus on Law that does not necessarily qualify you to become a solicitor or barrister, while an LLB is a qualifying degree, meaning the course will follow a more set structure and will give you the qualification you need to become a solicitor or barrister.

At postgraduate level, there are a range of courses, including:

  • The Diploma in Professional Legal Practice – a mandatory one-year course that allows you to become a solicitor in Scotland
  • An LLM (Master of Laws) – a Master’s course which usually allows you to study a specific branch of Law in more depth
  • Law conversion courses, such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) – Law conversion courses allow undergraduates from other disciplines to pursue a career in Law
  • Professional training qualifications, such as the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) – professional training qualifications allow you to specialise in one area of Law and follow that career path.

Read more about the different types of Law courses in our guide to applying for Law.

3. Do you understand the Law application process?

The process of applying for Law is similar to the process of applying for other subjects in a number of ways. The deadline for applications is the same as most other courses: you should submit your Law application by the general UCAS deadline on the 25th January (unless you are applying for Oxbridge, in which case you should submit your application by the 15th October).

However, the Law application process also often involves additional stages not often included in other university applications, including:

  • Admissions test – the c (National Admissions Test for Law) is the most common Law admissions test used by UK universities. It is not used by all universities but by some of the most competitive in order to differentiate between applicants, including Oxford and Cambridge, Bristol, Durham, Glasgow, King’s College London (KCL), LSE, UCL, Nottingham, and SOAS University of London.
  • Interview – most of the top UK universities for Law require applicants to attend an interview, including Oxbridge, Bristol, Durham, KCL, LSE, UCL, Nottingham, York, and more.

Our guide to applying for Law explains each of these stages in more detail, and our guides to writing a Law personal statement and preparing for the LNAT offer further helpful information on the application process.

4. Have you expanded your knowledge beyond the school curriculum?

Although A level Law does exist, very few schools offer it and you are far more likely to be applying to university-level Law with more common A level subjects such as History, English Literature, Religious Studies, Psychology, Mathematics, a language, or others. Therefore, it is important that you expand your knowledge beyond the subjects and topics you cover in your school curriculum.

Relevant wider reading and studying is one way that you can show you are passionate and dedicated to your chosen field. With Law, it’s also really important to go beyond the books. Try looking at specific statutes and jurisdictions that relate to your areas of interest. Avoid popular law books that are on the bestseller lists, such as The Secret Barrister, as these will be common among Law personal statements and won’t help you stand out.

One area that is also important for all Law courses is a general knowledge of the legal system – universities aren’t looking for an expert (after all, that’s why you’re applying to study their course!), but they are looking for someone with a genuine interest in Law and a thirst for knowledge. Oxbridge1, along with many other universities, particularly like applicants to keep up-to-date with current affairs and show interest in the legalities of the latest news stories. Some useful sources to help you stay up to date with legal news include: the Law Society Gazette, blogs on law firms’ websites, TED talks on Law, and Law sections of News websites, such as The Guardian.

5. Do you know which area of Law you are particularly interested in?

Law is a hugely broad field and encompasses many different specialisms and career paths. While you don’t have to know exactly which area of Law you want to go into (after all, many legal professionals go on to specialise in multiple areas and fulfil many different roles), having an idea and communicating this in your application is a great way to show your commitment to the field.

If you’re really not sure which area you are most interested in, there are many ways you can explore your options. Firstly, use the internet to research different branches of Law and look at the routes you would need to take to pursue careers in these areas. Another useful place to look is the modules covered on Law university courses, as these often cover multiple different areas of Law, including criminal law, constitutional law, tort law, contract law, human rights law, legal history, and more.

Secondly, keep up to date with news relating to Law and the justice system and find out more about developments and stories that take your interest. This will ensure that you are prepared to talk about topical subjects in your interview, but also allow you to explore areas of Law that are particularly relevant to society.

Finally, think back to any work experience you have already done and seek new work experiences in particular areas of Law. Work experience and volunteering are important for Law applications, not only because they help your application stand out, but also because you cannot get the real-life knowledge and experience of how legal environments such as courtrooms work, and the typical responsibilities of a lawyer, in any other way.

Top tip: One area students tend to focus too much on is criminal justice. Though criminal law is part of a Law degree, it will not make up the bulk of your course and you probably won’t stand out too much if you mention it in your application (unless you’re referring to it in the context of some work experience or volunteering you have undertaken).

Instead, consider including a variety of Law specialisms in your personal statement, such as civil rights, legal history, or immigration law. Universities will be impressed by students who can prove they understand the breadth of the law and how it intertwines with day-to-day life.
If you do feel like you want to include criminal law in your personal statement, we suggest finding a very niche area within the wider topic and researching it very well. You should name-drop specific readings or TED talks you’ve watched on the topic and ensure you’re taking an insightful and critical approach that makes you stand out.

6. Do you know what your career options are?

Depending on which Law course you are applying for, your career options can vary. Typically, a BA (Bachelor of Arts) is an academic degree with a focus on Law that does not necessarily qualify you to become a solicitor or barrister. This means you will likely still have to take the GDL (a common Law conversion course) in order to qualify.

An LLB (Bachelor of Laws), by contrast, is a qualifying degree, meaning the course will follow a more set structure and will give you the qualification you need to become a solicitor or barrister. This is a general rule of thumb but it does have exceptions. Most notably, both BAs in Law at Oxford and Cambridge are qualifying degrees and do not require a conversion course.

If you’re applying for an LLB or other qualifying Law degree, your motivation for studying Law will probably be to become a lawyer, barrister or solicitor – if this is the case, think about why you want to become one. This motivation and the work experience and studying you have done to support it will be key elements in your Law application.

BAs in Law can usually be taken as joint honours (for example a BA in Law and Spanish) while LLBs cannot. If you’re unsure whether you’d like to become a lawyer, or you’d simply like a bit more variety throughout your degree (such as the option to learn a language or study non-Law modules) then a BA can be a great option. It only takes one additional year to qualify to become a solicitor or barrister, so you can always change your mind once you’ve graduated.

Studying a BA in Law or LLB doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become a lawyer. Law degrees can also lead to a range of careers outside of the legal field, including:

  • Accountancy
  • Banking and Finance
  • Business – particularly governance roles and human resources (HR)
  • Central and local government administration
  • Insurance

Top tip: You can become a solicitor or barrister with an undergraduate degree in any subject – you’ll just need to take a Law conversion course (such as the Graduate Diploma in Law). If you’re not predicted to reach the typically high entry requirements for an LLB, then you might consider exploring other degree courses with the view to studying a Law conversion later on. Applying to other subjects or less competitive courses as ‘back ups’ will ultimately give yourself the best chance of an offer.

To speak with an expert about whether you are right for Law and work with a tutor on your Law university application, reach out to our team today. More than 95% of students who work with us get into their first or second choice university – our expert Law admissions tutors know just how to help you succeed.

FAQs

What is the difference between a BA in Law and an LLB?

As you will see below, different universities offer different types of Law degree, most commonly a BA or an LLB. Typically, a BA (Bachelor of Arts) is an academic degree with a focus on Law that does not necessarily qualify you to become a solicitor or barrister. This means you will likely still have to take the GDL (a common Law conversion course) in order to qualify.

An LLB (Bachelor of Laws) is a qualifying degree, meaning the course will follow a more set structure and will give you the qualification you need to become a solicitor or barrister. This is a general rule of thumb but it does have exceptions. Most notably, both BAs in Law at Oxford and Cambridge are qualifying degrees and do not require a conversion course.

What is the University of Law?

The University of Law is a university dedicated to the study of Law and related legal subjects like Criminology and Cyber Security and Data Governance. It offers both undergraduate courses, including the ever-popular LLB (Bachelor of Laws), as well as postgraduate courses, including the LLM (Master of Laws) as well as more specialist courses.

The University of Law does not feature in many league tables (including the QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education and Shanghai Ranking) because their rankings exclude particularly small, specialist institutions. However, the university was named the best university in England for overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2020 (NSS).

Which universities require the LNAT?

The LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law) is the most common Law admissions test used by UK universities. It is not used by all universities but by some of the most competitive in order to differentiate between applicants. The universities that use the LNAT are:

  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Durham
  • Glasgow
  • King’s College London
  • LSE
  • Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • SOAS University of London
  • UCL

What subjects do I need to study Law?

Law degree programmes do not require you to have studied Law at A level (or equivalent) and instead accept a wide range of relevant subjects. Commonly studied subjects of successful Law applicants include: History, English Literature, Religious Studies, Psychology, Mathematics, a language, and more.

Why study Law in UK?

There are many reasons to study Law in the UK. Firstly, UK Law qualifications are recognised by law firms around the world, meaning you’ll have the opportunity to practise Law internationally. Secondly, the UK law system is incredibly unique and established, with the British common law system being over 900 years old. As a result, many top academics are drawn to study there and there is a long, rich history of Law study at top universities. Finally, the UK has excellent future prospects for Law graduates. London in particular is home to more international and commercial arbitrations than any other city in the world and, as a result, many international law firms have offices there.

Is studying Law hard?

Law is a challenging subject to study at university and involves lots of reading and committed study. It draws on multiple other disciplines, including Politics, Criminology, Psychology, History, Philosophy, and others, meaning that students often have to ‘wear many hats’ in order to succeed on Law programmes. However, Law degrees are also incredibly rewarding and Law graduates have a huge range of career opportunities as a result of their hard work.