Studying Law as a Mature Student
Choosing to become a law undergraduate as a mature student is a big decision, whether you are looking for a career change or pursuing your academic passion.
You have several choices which include the three or four-year undergraduate law degree (LLB) or the one year Law Conversion Course (GDL).
This page will detail everything you need to know about studying law as a mature student.
Find out more about the LLB law degree with our free guide.
Read our LLB Degree Overview
What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?
For the LLB, the entry requirements for each course vary substantially depending on the university you are applying to.
Most universities expect applicants to have at least three A-Levels or the equivalent with grade requirements ranging between A* and C. For the GDL, an undergraduate degree of at last a 2:2 is generally expected.
Depending on your professional and academic experience you may be required to complete an Access to Higher Education course, attend an interview, or demonstrate relevant work experience.
Course providers will be looking for you to demonstrate an interest in law on your application. If you’re unsure if you meet the entry requirements, it’s a good idea to contact the university directly.
If you want to apply for a GDL course, you need to apply through lawcabs and if you want to apply for the LLB course, you must go through UCAS.
For information on the entry requirements for each law course, check out our university comparison table.
How do I Fund my Law Studies as a Mature Student?
For an undergraduate LLB, you can get a student loan if it’s your first degree. If you have children, you may be entitled to extra financial help. You may find that if you’re not able to get a loan, studying part time is the best option as it’s usually cheaper and allows you to spread the payments.
There are several options for funding your GDL such as loans, scholarships and law firm sponsorship.
You may also find opportunities when it comes to funding your LPC. Like with the GDL, there are scholarships and bursaries as well as diversity access schemes. The key is to do your research before you apply.
What is it Like to Study Law as a Mature Student?
Anyone who starts university above the age of 21 is classed as a mature student. As a mature student, you may choose to study full-time, however, work and family commitments may mean that you need to juggle part-time study with your personal and/or professional life.
Your university experience is likely to involve lectures and tutorials, but if you choose to study part time, you may spend more time studying online and listening to lectures remotely.
There are various skills necessary for studying law at university that will be the same for applicants of all ages.
Careful preparation for tutorials and seminars is essential and completing work outside of contact hours is one of the main challenges for mature students.
You will be expected to do the same amount of reading and preparation as your course mates, but unlike many students, you may not have time on your side.
Want to know more about studying law as a mature student? Read our Case Study: University of Law page, where we speak with a student about studying law at a later stage in life.
How Can You Make Time to Study as a Mature Student?
- Be prepared to work hard – set aside some study time every day and try to stick to a schedule.
- Remember that universities are keen to work with you, not against you. Communicate with your chosen institution and you could negotiate more flexible study hours, for example.
- Reach out for advice from your fellow students. A law degree or GDL is not a competition – your course mates are in the same boat and experiencing the same challenges, so they should be happy to help.
How Can I Get Involved as a Mature Law Student?
There will be countless extra-curricular opportunities to get involved with while studying. These experiences help you to stand out for employers and enhance your academic experience, so making some time for extra-curricular commitments is definitely worth it, even if you can only spare a few hours a month.
Here are some things you can do to stand out:
- Take part in pro-bono initiatives
- Engage with the university student societies
- Volunteer at a legal advice clinic
- Organise extra-curricular lectures and events
What Happens After University?
Do not feel that as a mature student your chances of impressing employers are in any way diminished. The likelihood is, you have already gained many transferable skills in your previous profession which are invaluable for a career in law.
Try to highlight any legal work experience completed at university but also make the most of transferable skills from previous non-law-related employment.
When it comes to applying for vacation schemes or law training contracts, seek advice from your tutors. They will be able to give you some tips on the best ways to boost your CV.
How do I Qualify as a Barrister or Solicitor?
Once you have completed the undergraduate law degree or the GDL, you can decide whether you want to pursue a career as a solicitor or as a barrister.
To qualify as a barrister you will need to complete the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), while to qualify as a solicitor you will need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
Both of these courses are designed to equip you with the practical and professional skills necessary for each career path. They’re generally nine months long and it is possible to study these courses remotely, part-time or only in the evenings, you can balance your studying with other commitments.
Once you complete these qualifications, you will be ready to commence your training contract (for solicitors) or pupillage (for barristers). Any previous legal work experience can count as a qualifying period of training and be used to reduce the length of your training contract.
Want to find out more? Read more about how to become a barrister or how to become a solicitor. If you are not sure on the difference between a solicitor and a barrister, you can find out here or take our Barrister vs Solicitor Quiz to find out which profession best suits you.
How do I qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive?
If you’re more interested in becoming a chartered legal executive, you might choose to follow a different route. Becoming a chartered legal executives means you will become a specialist qualified lawyer under the supervision of solicitors. This can be either in a law firm or in-house. The level of study required to become a solicitor and a chartered legal executive is comparable.
However, this route through The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) requires you to study fewer subjects overall, the exams and training period combined can be shorter and the costs lower. It is also more common for CILEx students to be working in a law firm or in-house and studying part time.
Your practical legal experience can also count towards your CILEx qualification giving you the chance to earn while you learn. You can learn more about the differences between solicitors and chartered legal executives on our How to Become a Lawyer page.