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How to get the most out of your Law degree

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Published: 4 July 2019

When thinking about career options with a law degree, most people will aspire to be a solicitor or barrister. While these roles are very important, completing a Law degree opens many doors for many different types of role within a private, public and third sectors. Organisations often have an in-house legal team, whose role might be to support HR functions, IP or marketing teams.

"The role of a lawyer is rich and diverse, whether it’s a solicitor, member of the bar or a patent or copyright attorney, no one day will be exactly the same, clients will be different and have different needs. It can be hard at times, but it also makes it challenging, interesting and fun because you have to find real solutions, to real problems, and that’s why it’s going to be the most exciting career you are going to have," Caroline says.

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"Sunderland shouldn't be a hidden gem anymore"

Our LLB (Hons) Law degree is recognised by the Law Society of England and Wales and regulated by the Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority. The recent National Student Survey (NSS) shows that our programme has 94% overall satisfaction from our students for our LLB programme. This means that they not only enjoy the challenge of the course but also how we teach it! According to the latest Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17 (DLHE) survey, 100% of our LLB (Hons) Law graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating. 

Caroline says: "A law degree will always come out as one of the most interesting and sought-after qualifications to have. We have students who go on to become writers, teachers, innovators, and CEOs, not just lawyers in many different types of organisations."

"What organisations are looking for now is measured, cautious, clear, careful, analytically driven responses to challenges, but they also want students who are able to think creatively too! We like to think that our students here have developed these important critical thinking skills. We believe in our students and look forward when our graduates come back and show what they have gone on to achieve."

Tomorrow makers case study Jake Evans

Extra-curricular activities

Over the course of your studies, you may also be offered the opportunity to participate in one or more field trips and in a range of competitions against students from other universities. 

"There is a lot to do if you want to do it. We are not going to push you but will support and encourage you to get involved. We have some particularly good things like the client interviewing competition and I am really proud to say we’ve got the best student client interviewers in the North East, following recent competitions.

"We did incredibly well so we are very proud and we are also involved in other negotiation competitions as well as mooting competition at the Supreme Court," Caroline says.

Sunderland Student Law Clinic

Students can choose to study in Sunderland Student Law Clinic in the final year of their undergraduate studies and all students studying to become a solicitor on our LLM Legal Practice spend at least half a day each week in clinic, meaning that some of our students leave us with considerable live client work experience.

Law court

Caroline says: "In terms of careers, they are a really important part of what we do. We work with Sunderland Futures but we are also working more than ever before with the local Sunderland Law Society. We want to make sure that our students get a really good understanding of what practitioners want, which means that when they apply for jobs, training contracts, vacation schemes or work experience opportunities our students are well prepared.

"We have our Student Law Clinic, like most universities that offer law, clinic provision is really important. For us our USP is that our students can join the clinic during each undergraduate stage, so that gives them a really good sense of what is like to work in a practice, working with real clients, within our local community. This means that our students work with a range of clients, such as SMEs, or people who have a neighbour dispute, or need support in family matters or want to find out about how to make a Lasting Power of Attorney. These are real clients with real problems and our students need to find real solutions.

"We support students, work with them, help them understand things like drafting, legal research which is a quite focused thing. We get them to talk about advising and we work with them in terms of interviewing, but also explain about negotiation and how those things work and where."

Book and hammer

"I am not a big fan of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, but understand that we can’t ignore it"

In the biggest shake-up in legal education in the UK in decades, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced their decision to introduce the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) in September 2021 which will reform the solicitor qualification in England and Wales. 

"The main difference in the way in which we will ready students for entry to the legal profession as trainee solicitors. Under the new system, aspiring solicitors, whether they have a law degree or degree in another discipline will need firstly, to pass SQE 1 before they start their on the job learning or qualifying work experience. The SQE 1 covers not only detailed knowledge of the law but also key elements of legal practice which means that students will have both academic and practice-based knowledge before they start their qualifying work experience.

"The qualifying work experience can be carried out with 4 different employers if the trainee lawyer wants. Coming towards the end of the 2-year QWE, the trainee will need to be prepared to sit the super exam, which assesses the wider, deeper practice skills which are learned in practice.

"A major issue with this is that key social justice areas of law like family, employment and medical law will not be assessed within the SQE system.  We don’t feel that this provides a balanced understanding of the law, so that’s why we are still going to continue to teach the subjects that we feel are necessary to make a good lawyer.  So, when we are looking at changing how we teach on our successful and well-regarded LLB, we are not going to change very much at all, but what we will be doing is to prepare our students as best as possible for their legal and other careers," Caroline says.

The SRA's proposals show that the SQE will be split into two stages: SQE1 and SQE2, and will be assessed on a pass/fail basis. SQE2 assessments will consist of practical exercises such as mock interviews with actors playing the roles of clients. 

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Caroline says: "The SQE process was designed to create a consistent approach to the way in which students prepared for practice, this doesn’t take into account how much we work with students to support their academic as well as practice understanding. The assessment process is very different and I am not convinced that this is the best way forward as it still needs to be fleshed out by those in charge… but this is the way it is and we have to make sure that we continue to support students effectively.

"Whilst the jury is out in terms of how the assessment process might work- there is a wider issue in that the whole assessment process is expensive. It’s going to cost about £1,500 just to take the exam and to take SQE2 it will cost around £3,000 and in total is £4,500."

"Students here will always be a name and not a number"

At the University of Sunderland, you'll be taught by passionate academics and experts in a friendly and supportive environment. 

"When someone is looking at where they want to go to university, they need to think about the support they are going to get, the size of the university and if they are going to be a name or a number. We want to grow as a Law school for sure but students will always be a person and never a number to us," Caroline concludes. 

Caroline graduated with an LLB (Hons) and is qualified as a solicitor. She has worked in commercial property, wealth management and for private clients. She progressed to become a partner in a law firm in the Midlands where she worked as a General Practitioner and Litigator focusing on family and vulnerable client matters in particular. To find out more about Caroline, please visit her staff profile

Studying Law will help you to develop a wide range of transferable skills and gain real-life experience in a discipline that is becoming increasingly valued by employers. Our graduates have gone on to have careers in a whole host of sectors, so if you want a high-quality degree that can lead to a job in a wide range of industries, choose Law at the University of Sunderland.

We offer many unique Law courses, all offering different ways to study this fascinating subject, including the academic and vocational stages of training required to be a solicitor:

Whichever course you choose, you will receive the same fantastic support, insight and experience offered by our Law School.