I always wanted to study law. There aren’t many aspects of our lives that aren’t affected by the law in some way. This can be simple transactions, like returning something you’ve bought to a shop, to more complex legal disputes involving litigation.
It fascinates me that a subject can be such an integral part of our lives.
I enrolled on the Graduate Diploma in Law course (the GDL) at the College of Law in London (which is now known as the University of Law). This is the conversion course for non-law graduates that you have to complete before you can start the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
I studied full-time for the University of Law GDL, which takes a year, but you can study for it part-time, which takes two years. The course is intensive, not least because of the sheer volume of work. In the first week, you have to take a suitcase with you to collect the course books!
The first module on the GDL is a basic introduction into legal practice. Then we moved swiftly on to study the main subjects: contract law, equity and trusts, criminal law and land law. We also studied public law, European Union law and tort.
Each week there are three workshop sessions and one day a week is allocated for self-directed study. Occasionally we attended lectures as a year group but most of the teaching is delivered through the workshops.
The GDL focuses on the practical skills you need to practice as a lawyer so most of the learning is problem-based. Before each workshop we had to prepare answers to case-based scenarios, which often involved researching case law and statutes.
Teaching during the workshops is also case-based. We had plenty of opportunity to practice applying the law to various scenarios.
It’s important not to underestimate how much reading there is to do. The preparatory work for each workshop takes around two to three hours.
There are written assessments that you have to do throughout the course that count towards your final grade. You’ll also have to factor in revision time for exams.
I enjoyed the problem-based approach to learning on the GDL as you’re immediately applying what you’re learning in a practical way. I particularly enjoyed reading cases in preparation for workshops. You learn how the barristers use different points of law to argue their case. You also learn how the judge analyses and interprets the law to give their final judgement.
Some of the in-workshop exercises are moots, where you have to argue an appeal case in front “judge”. These are good practice in applying the law to support your case as well as learning how to present your arguments.
The GDL is an intensive course and if you haven’t studied for a while it can take some time to get back into a routine of studying and revising. However, overall I found it to be an enjoyable and intellectually stimulating year.
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