Published on July 3, 2019 by Lauren Wade

A young woman kayaks down a river surrounded by palm trees

Choosing to take a gap year before studying law at university can be an excellent way to boost your CV. Admissions tutors, future employers and law firms will be interested to see how you spent your time off, what you learnt from it and how it changed your perspective outside of the classroom.

There are many different ways you could spend your gap year; it’s not always backpacking around Australia. What is important is that choosing to take a year out is the right choice for you.

Here are the pros and cons of taking a gap year before you study a law degree like the LLB at university.

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Pros of Taking a Gap Year Before Studying Law

Time to figure out what you really want to do

Applying to study law during sixth form might seem like a good choice at the time because you want to go directly to university. You might regret your decision later down the line and want to study something else instead.

Taking a gap year before studying law gives you the luxury of time to really consider whether you’re choosing law for the right reasons and which areas of the law you would like to pursue in the future.

By knowing that what you’re going to study is really what you want to do, you’ll save yourself from wasting money and time on a course that’s not quite right for you.

Time to work on your personal statement

Like actually studying law, it’s vital to know why you want to study it. Your reasons for choosing a law degree will form the basis of your personal statement for law, which will be read by admissions tutors who will assess your suitability for entry to the course.

Having time away from education could be beneficial, as you will have more time to construct an impressive personal statement. Getting to know yourself and your motivations, away from the pressures of exams and assessments, could increase your ability to convey to tutors why they should pick you to study law at their university.

Improved independence and confidence

Taking time out and challenging yourself away from academia is a great way to improve your independence and grow as a person. Leaving school and home will push you out of your comfort zone and will encourage you to try a variety of new experiences.

Independence and confidence go hand in hand and they are two key skills that you’ll be required to develop at university – particularly if you wish to pursue a successful career in law.

By taking a gap year, you’ll be forced to make decisions on your own and have the confidence to trust yourself. It might seem scary at first but doing so will put you in good standing for your future at university, and as a lawyer.

Time to earn money

Everyone knows that a university education isn’t cheap. Aspiring lawyers also have to consider and factor in the costs of additional courses, such as the LPC or BPTC, to secure a training contract or pupillage in the future.

Working and earning extra money on your gap year can be a smart and productive way to spend your gap year. It will mean you’ll be able to save up to live more comfortably when you do go to university too.

You’ll look forward to learning again

You’ve most likely been in education non-stop for over a decade and the seemingly endless cycle of learning, revising and sitting exams has probably become quite tedious.

A lot of students go to university feeling burnt out as they haven’t given themselves time to rest. Whereas, people who do take time off often look forward to returning to education.

A gap year offers you time to live your life outside of academia and can leave you feeling refreshed, motivated and ready to take up learning in a formal environment once again.

Read What if I Change My Mind? Other Jobs Outside Law

Cons of Taking a Gap Year Before Studying Law

You might get another chance after university

It’s likely that once you’ve completed your university law degree and, LPC or BPTC you’ll have a while to wait before you start your training contract.

This short or long waiting period can be a great time to complete your gap year. Whether you go backpacking in Asia, soak up the culture in Europe or spend time volunteering – you’ll be able to feel confident with the knowledge that you have completed education and have a competitive job secured for when you get back.

Wasting time

If you do decide to take a gap year before university, it’s important to know exactly what you want to do with that time.

The last thing you want is for the year to pass and to go to university and realise you’ve spent your entire gap year watching Netflix and going to the pub. It won’t look good on your CV and you probably won’t be able to justify it to admissions tutors or at job interviews in the future.

You’ll be a year behind

Becoming a qualified solicitor or barrister is already a long process. Taking a year out before going to university will only extend the process.

Bear in mind that when you do start university most of your friends will probably already have been there for a year and had a chance to settle in. This can be difficult to deal with, as you might feel constantly a step behind them as they may submit work, graduate and get a job before you do.

It could turn out to be a mistake

Like many things in life, you probably won’t know that it’s a mistake until after you’ve done it. For some people, their gap year doesn’t turn out the way they thought it would, whereas others have a great time.

If it does go wrong and you’re left wishing you had gone straight to university, take comfort in the knowledge that you’ve probably still grown as a person from the experience and learnt things you wouldn’t have otherwise.

The decision to take a gap year is completely yours to make but make sure you do what feels right for you.

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