The LL.B – theory is always different to practice. But that’s the point isn’t it?

In my fourth year I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do. I became enthralled in my dissertation topic and briefly considered an academic route. It got me thinking about the purpose of the law degree and what it prepares the undergraduate for once they have graduated.

Before I went to university I had the intention of becoming a lawyer. I think my interest really started with Ally McBeal and a Kudos test aged fourteen that told me, according to the thirty questions it asked, that I was pre-disposed to become a lawyer (not exactly the best sources to use for deciding how to spend the largest part of your life after sleep!). I didn’t even know there were different types of lawyers something I only discovered in the sixth form. I knew lawyers were respected and most importantly they were well paid.

So safe in the ignorance that I would be well paid and respected I headed off to university to study law and human rights. I can’t help but think that the current system is a little flawed as most law students, at least at the beginning of their degree, want to be lawyers, but a law degree does not train you to be a lawyer, rather, it teaches law as an academic pursuit. Perhaps some would disagree but learning to become a lawyer really starts at the LPC/BVC and the subsequent vocational training, so I am told. Having spoken to a large number of young lawyers and well established lawyers they have all told me that they learnt to ply their trade in the working environment and not in the classroom.

It would seem to me that a new approach could be adopted. The academic law degree could remain whilst a more practical based course could be adopted to combine the GDL with the LPC. This lawyers degree could be conducted over the same period as the LL.B to allow for students to mature and develop in the same way as other undergraduates. I think the latter would suit those that wish to solely become lawyers whilst the LL.B could remain for people that want to study law as a purely academic subject. I would propose that the graduates of the lawyers degree could go straight into a training contract, avoiding further graduate education and more debt.

For employers the advantage would be that such a graduate that has been able to hone the practical skills of the LPC over a longer period in greater depth progress more speedily into the working world, thus being more productive, given greater responsibility and potential bring in greater revene at an earlier stage. In terms of the educational providers, there role would remain the same. Both universities and graduates training providers could diversify using their expertise to produce a different class of young lawyers.

However, these are just musing whilst I’m sitting here on the train. I suppose theory is always different to practice. But that’s the point isn’t it?


5 Responses to “The LL.B – theory is always different to practice. But that’s the point isn’t it?”

  1. kris Says:

    There is something to be said for learning theory rather than simply memorising procedure. Any muppet can learn procedure – it takes some brains to engage in critical thinking.

    Having done both a LL.B. as well as the BVC – I actually learned the law as well as how to think on the LL.B (and LL.M). I better learned how to apply the law on my BVC.

    I am sure places like BPP/CoL will provide a stripped down “practical” law degree – and I think people who do it will cheat themselves. If they really want to save money and just get on with the job, they can become legal execs.

    Law, for me at any rate, should be more than a vocation or trade. For me, the most interesting and effective lawyers come from a highly academic background.

  2. Law Teacher Says:

    There is already something in place for learning practice as well as the theory, it is to qualify as a Legal Exec. I have always argued that the LL.B does not prepare students adequately when it comes to practice but, while there is money to be made with the LPC/BVC, I can’t see things changing anytime soon.

  3. allaboutlawblog Says:

    Kris, let us consider that around half of trainees in Magic circle firms are from a non-law background. Often their first introduction to law is the GDL followed by the LPC – I was suggesting to have these two courses combined over a slight longer period so undergradute students can progress at a slightly slower rate.

    Your argument seems to suggest those that follow this route are cheating themselves and are unlikey to be either interesting or effective as lawyers. That sounds silly.

    Law Teacher, regarding the fact that the LPC/BVC is a money making exercise I would agree to some extent- the fact that the number of places on these courses outweigh the number of positions would appear to support this claim. However, if such a course did exist the LPC/BVC/GDL providers I imagine would be wholly interested as they would be able to expand into teaching undergraduate students, a lucrative money spinner no doubt.

  4. Sherylann Says:

    I agree completely with you. However, because their is still that debate on fusing both the LPC and Bar, it may not look as though something like what you are proposing is viable. However having said that your idea may actually be perfect in bringing to an end this age old feud between the both legal bodies.

    Push for it more and get more support you maybe setting the trend for the future good luck.

  5. Making a Will Says:


    I just thought i’d drop by and see how it was all going? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out who i am from my ‘name’ so i thought as you seem to have a healthy blog going here i’d take full advantage! Haha.

    The new site looks great by the way, good work, if you need anything just let me know!

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