You are generally considered a mature student if you start any form of higher education when aged 21 or over. However, postgraduate mature students tend to be 25 or over when starting their studies.
If you want to study law as a mature student, you might be wondering if your age has an impact on applying for a law degree. The answer is yes, it can have an impact on where you might want to live during your studies and the types of funding you can access.
While the idea of going back into full-time education to study for a law degree might seem daunting, law courses for mature students have many upsides.
1. Law schools want more diversity
Law schools welcome people of all ages and from different backgrounds onto their courses, provided they have the skills deemed necessary to succeed – both academically and in the legal profession. While you might consider your age and/or background to be a barrier to applying, it may actually be considered a key advantage by law schools.
2. You will be more assured of your career goals
As a mature law student you are likely to be more focused. According to The Independent, ‘mature students bring a high-level of zeal, dedication and problem solving skills to their studies’. Mature students are also better equipped to deal with the pressures of studying law.
3. Greater course flexibility
Law degree courses are generally quite flexible, enabling mature students to work around family or other commitments. With part-time, flexible day and evening courses available you will be able to find a course to suit your schedule.
4. You won’t be alone
Most law schools offer high-level support to mature students, helping you to juggle your studies with other commitments, while also connecting you with other mature students. There are often peer mentorship programs, counselling services and other resources available that are aimed specifically at mature students.
Your study route as a mature law student depends on how much time you want to dedicate to your education. The GDL can be completed in one year, but you could do an LLB – if you want the full university experience – and do a law degree over three years if you choose to study full-time or four years if you opt for a part-time LLB.
Entry requirements for mature law student courses vary significantly depending on the course you want to do and the institution you are applying to. If you choose to study a law degree at university, a minimum of three A-Levels – grades A* – C – or equivalent is generally required.
If you plan to do the GDL course, an undergraduate degree with a minimum of a 2:2 is generally expected, plus a demonstrable interest in law, but this depends on the provider.
If you don’t have an undergraduate degree or A-Levels, you will need to contact each institution that you are interested in applying to and speak to admissions staff about your options. You may have to complete an Access to Higher Education course, attend an interview or demonstrate relevant work experience to be accepted onto a mature student course in law.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) route offers you an alternative pathway into the legal profession outside of an LLB or GDL. If you are interested in becoming a chartered legal executive, you can become a specialist qualified lawyer under the supervision of solicitors whether in a law firm or with a company via an in-house legal department.
To find out more about CILEx courses, visit our dedicated CILEx courses page.
You might be thinking that you will be the only mature student or wondering how you will juggle your work or family commitments. These are some of the common scenarios faced by mature students studying law. While it’s not easy, many people do go to university later in life, despite being out of education or formal learning for a number of years, and go on to succeed.
Balancing your commitments will arguably be the biggest challenge of studying law as a mature student. With lectures, coursework and other learning activities to fit around your day to day life, you will have to make sure you are well organised, focused and committed.
You will be expected to complete the same amount of reading and preparation as others on your law course. So, it’s important to prioritise time that you can dedicate to your studies.
To learn more about what it’s like to study law as a mature student, take a look at our Case Study: University of Law and read about the experience of a mature student who studied law at the University of Leicester.
1. Make use of personal tutors – Find out if the university at which you want to study has personal tutors available for mature students. You can make use of their knowledge and support as they will have experience of dealing with different types of mature students.
2. Get involved in networking events and extracurricular activities – If time allows, attend networking events and extracurricular activities to build connections and broaden your learning experience. If you have been out of education for sometime, this can help to accelerate your learning.
3. Use available careers services – Most universities provide mature students with careers education, information, advice and guidance in a friendly, inclusive, impartial and supportive setting. Careers services are useful for helping you explore the options available to you.
4. Complete a vacation scheme – In the penultimate year of your undergraduate degree, you should apply for a vacation scheme. A vacation scheme is a great way of gaining invaluable work experience at a law firm.
If you choose to study an undergraduate LLB, you can access a student loan – provided that this is your first degree course. If you have children, you could be entitled to additional financial support. If you are unable to get a loan, studying part-time might be the best option for you as it will allow you to spread your course fee payments.
There are several options for funding your GDL such as loans, scholarships and law firm sponsorship.
Completing your studies is the first step to pursuing a career in the legal profession. You will then need to decide whether you want to pursue a career as a solicitor or barrister, become a chartered legal executive or another type of legal career.
If you decide to pursue a career as a barrister or solicitor, further study awaits, but a university law degree demonstrates to employers that you have an aptitude for law. Following your law degree, you will need to complete the relevant training qualifications for the legal career that you want to pursue, whether it’s a solicitor, barrister, chartered legal executive or another legal profession.
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