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Abbey College Manchester Law FAQs

Another very popular post which generated a lot of interest form you all was ” Want to be a Lawyer?” from August 2012. As many of your wrote in asking for advice and with questions, we thought we’d take some of the most popular questions and try and answer them all for you.

So here we go:

What A levels to I need?

As one of the most frequent questions we received, where better to start?

There is no real set A Level subject combination required for Law. Where other subjects like Medicine or Engineering demand certain subjects, Law allows you to choose from a broader spectrum of traditional subjects. Law is at heart an analytical subject and you will find yourself writing a lot of essays and debating within classes a lot, so A Levels like History and English Literature will stand you in good stead. Some newer subjects like Politics and Business Studies are also encouraged. These subjects encourage students to analyse topics and think for themselves, to question established facts and come up with their own conclusions. All of these are skills which are essential in Law.

Even some technically based subjects like the sciences or Maths A level are looked upon favourably, and some of the newer sciences like Sociology or Psychology actively encouraged. Be warned though, that you will spend a lot of your time reading and writing essays, so it’s a good idea to take some essay based subjects to keep your skills up to scratch.

What sort of grades do I need?

This depends on what universities you apply to, but on the whole you need very good grades to study Law. It is a very popular course, and competition is fierce, so the best universities like Oxford and Cambridge, can and do ask for the best grades at A Level. Expect to have to get A*s and As if you want to get into the best universities.

Do I need to take A Level Law?

This has been a sticky kind of question for a long time, and not one that is easily answered. Law A Level used to be considered a “soft” subject, and not one that many universities counted very highly, nor did they encourage students to take it. Everything that you learn in A Level Law – and we do mean everything here – you learn in the first year at university. It gives you no real advantage over your peers, and in fact can be detrimental to your degree course as it may give you an inflated idea of how well you are doing in your first year because you think you know it all!

In the past, universities specifically said that they preferred students who didn’t have Law A Level as it puts everyone on an even footing when they start. Nowadays, the answer is less clear. Some universities are treating Law A level as a “hard” subject now, others, prefer their applicants to show a broader range of skills before embarking on a Law degree. You will have to check with any university you’re applying to as to just how highly they value this particular subject.

But if you’re going to push us for an answer – and we know you are – we would recommend that you don’t do it. It is not required anywhere, and you will only re-learn it all when you get to university. Take as broad a range of other A level subjects as you can. Do some that you enjoy so that you get the best marks possible, and wait until university to start learning about the law.

What GCSEs should I take?

Many of you have written in worried that your GCSE results are not good enough and that this will count against you. Don’t panic, it’s ok. Some universities care about your GCSE results more than others, but they are never used as a deciding factor in your application. You should of course try and do as well as you can and get the best marks possible, and you should try and study across as wide a range as possible. Even subjects like Music and Art are acceptable, they show you have a broad range of interests.

What is the LNAT?

The Law National Aptitude Test is used by universities to help them select the best students for their law courses. It measure six core verbal reasoning skill sets: Comprehension, Interpretation, Analysis, Syntheses, Induction, and Deduction. These are all skill sets that are vital to have if you want to be able to practise Law. You cannot revise for the test, but it is a good idea to have a look round the LNAT website to read up on what you can expect should you need to sit it.

Do I need to sit the LNAT?

That depends. Some universities require you do, others don’t. The list changes all the time, so to find out if your university requires you sit it, contact them.

How hard will I have to work to become a Lawyer?

Before you start your Law degree you should know that it is going to be a lot of very hard work. You will have one of the busiest timetables at your university, and will more than likely spend 9 to 5 in lectures or tutorials. You will also be expected to read a lot in your spare time, and do a lot of work on your own initiative in your own spare time. A Law degree is no picnic, and it prepares you for the reality of life in the real world. If you work in Law it is expected of you that you will work hard and you work long hours. It’s just the way it is. If you are not ready for that, then maybe a career in law is not for you.

But, it is not all work. You will have a life outside of the your books and the classroom. Law Schools at university are some of the most social and organised on campus. There are many clubs, sports teams and after hours groups. Lawyers work hard, but they also play hard. And after the hours you put in, you will feel fully justified when you let your hair down.

What is the best way to stand out from all the other applicants?

Good question. And you will really need to as well. There’s a number of ways you can do this.

a) Work your socks off at GCSE and A Level and wow them with your fantastic grades.

b) Work experience. There is nothing like a good chunk of relevant legal work experience to show how committed and interested you are in a legal career. Even if it is just acting as admin in a clerk’s office, or doing volunteer work, work experience is vital, and university’s love to see it from their applicants. Work experience is like gold dust though, it’s very hard to come by. Ring everyone you can, apply everywhere, and do not be choosey about where you work. It all helps. Do not expect to be paid or go into court though.

c) Your personal statement. A well written and interesting personal statement is a must when applying for Law. This is where you can really stand out from the crowd. It must be well written, it must be interesting, it must be chock full of all the work experience you’ve done, your extra-curricular activities, your inspirations and what drives you to want a career in law. Show as broad a range of interests as possible, this is a chance to show your university how interesting and brilliant you are, and what an asset to their programme you would be. You should also start writing it now. Practise, refine it, add to it constantly, and when it comes to your final draft, it will be amazing.

Are there any books I can read before I start my course?

Yes, there are thousands. Here some of the best to get you started:

How Law Works by Gary Slapper

Letters to a Law Student by Nicholas McBride

A Short History of Western Legal Theory by John Kelly

What About Law? By Catherine Barnard et al

Eve Was Framed by Helena Kennedy

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham

Well that’s it. We hope we’ve answered you questions and allayed any doubts or fears you might have had. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. If you have and specific questions about particular universities regarding things like the LNAT or entrance requirements, it is a better idea to contact the universities directly as they will be in a better position to help you.

Good luck!