You’ve decided to do a soul-crushing law conversion. Why?
You must be able to think of something better to do with your life
Law degrees are pretty bloody tough. The law itself is pretty bloody tough. Making money from law is pretty bloody tough. So what the fuck are your motivations behind wanting to be a lawyer?
If you want power, become a politician (there’s a whole different set of warnings that could come with that). If you want money, start your own business. If you want fame, get your arse on Instagram (both literally and figuratively). If you want to prove you’re intelligent, go into academia. Don’t do a law conversion.
One of the most confusing things about the concept of a law conversion is you’re essentially admitting the degree you’ve already got is pointless, a waste of time and money. Maybe it’s because when you first filled out those UCAS forms you wanted to actually study a degree you’d enjoy, or maybe you’re just rotten at long-term planning. Either way, now you’ve got to cram three years of a degree into two, and work harder than you’ve ever worked before apart from those all-nighters in the library at the end of third year.
All the stress and bother seems particularly futile when you look at the employment stats. At the end of July 2013, 6,758 people were admitted to the roll, meaning they were able to practice as solicitors in England and Wales. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a lot of people. There were nearly 4,000 applications for the GDL conversion last year, which is a lot of competition for a job when you factor in the tens of thousands of people who chose to study law first time round.
Admittedly, that number has fallen this year, but it’s still high compared to the traineeships available. Things are even more bleak if you want a place on the bar: it was reported there were a measly 397 first-six pupilage places available in 2013-2014, the first time in living memory that number had dropped below 400. Plus, the average starting salary for law graduates is currently a measly £19,598. Three years of your actual degree followed by two years of a GDL and you still wouldn’t be able to start paying off your student loans.
If you’re looking for proof the GDL will ruin your life, just look at the miserable, haggard faces of this year’s law graduates and listen to them bore you rigid with stories of ginger beer bottles and Spanish fishing boats (you’ll get the reference once you’ve studied law).
As far as I can tell, there are only two reasons anyone ever really decides to do a law conversion. Reason one: you’re putting off going into the big, bad world and forgot that a masters would probably be more enjoyable. Reason two: you made an unspoken pact with your parents you’d do it if they’d let you study a fun arts degree first. If that sounds like you, you are completely spineless. Live your life for yourself, not your parents: you’re over 20 and should be able to make your own decisions. After all, they won’t be able to help you when you’re 45 and miserable because you work long hours, barely see your family (or the sun) and secretly want to die. At least you’re rich though eh?
As my cousin (who starts his GDL this year) put it: “It’s for people who’ve run out of ideas.” So do yourself a favour and find something more original to do. The world’s got enough lawyers already.