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Law Student Case Study: Max Pickup, GDL

We speak to Max Pickup about his Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) after studying History and his plans to pursue legal publishing and journalism.

Why Law?

I enjoyed the argumentative elements of my favourite subject in school, history, and I decided that at some point I wanted to study law because it is a complex subject that encourages debate. I opted to read history at university first after learning that you could study law, by completing a law conversion course known as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), after completing an undergraduate degree in another subject.

What steps did you take next?

During my undergraduate degree in history I got involved in as many legal experiences as possible in order to determine whether or not I truly wanted to study law. I hadn’t got a training contract lined up so I was going to be paying for law school out of my own pocket so I had to be absolutely certain that this was what I wanted to do. I worked alongside barristers and solicitors through completing internships, work experience placements and participating in volunteering opportunities. During these experiences I became very interested in the complexity of the law and the very different career paths that studying law could lead to and so I decided that I definitely wanted to go to law school.

How has Law School matched your expectations?

The Graduate Diploma in Law was the single most difficult academic challenge I have ever faced. The course was as intensive as I imagined and the key to getting through it successfully is to treat it like a job. It’s simply not possible to just cruise through. Despite its difficulty I thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual challenge and I have no regrets in going to law school. I particularly enjoyed the volunteering opportunities that I got involved in during law school.

Have you started applying for training contracts?

I applied for law school during my final year of my undergraduate degree in an attempt to bag that all-important training contract. I made it to the final stage of the interview process for a vacation scheme, a work experience placement in a law firm that can lead to a training contract, but fell at the final hurdle. After completing the Graduate Diploma in Law, and whilst studying for the Graduate LLB, I have attended interviews for training contracts and paralegal roles whilst continuing to be involved in volunteering and other extra-curricular activities.

What are your legal ambitions?

I’m now completing additional modules in order to convert my Graduate Diploma in Law in to a Graduate LLB. Having almost completed the academic side of my legal training, alongside various experiences of working in legal environments with barristers and solicitors, I have decided that a career in practising law is not for me.

I have actually discovered, through my extra-curricular activities involving student journalism and writing articles and blogs, that I prefer researching and writing about the law as opposed to helping clients to solve their legal problems. My plans are to pursue a career in legal publishing/journalism and possibly pursue postgraduate legal studies. As a keen traveller I would like to live, work and maybe study abroad at some point in the future. The great thing about studying law is that it doesn’t limit you to a career as a barrister or solicitor. It also opens up a whole range of opportunities in non-legal careers and alternative careers in law.

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