Furture You podcast transcript

Why study an LLB law degree (with University of Law)

July, 2023

In this episode of Future You, Victoria Weir programme and student lead for undergraduate programmes tells us about the University of Law's undergraduate degree unique


In order of first appearance:

  • Dan Mason - editorial manager, Prospects
  • Victoria Weir - programme and student lead for undergraduate programmes, University of Law


Dan Mason: Could an undergraduate law degree help you take the next step in your career? Where better to turn for inspiration than the University of Law itself? In this episode of Future You.

Hello and welcome to Future You the podcast from graduate careers experts Prospects we're here to help you achieve your career goals. My name is Dan Mason and in this episode we're exploring the University of Law’s undergraduate law degree, the LLB. My guest is Victoria Weir from the University of Law and she explains what's unique about this course, its practical focus, and how it can prepare you for a career in law or you might be surprised to hear in many other professions too. Don't forget to subscribe to Future You in your podcast app, and head to prospects.ac.uk for lots more careers advice. Now, here's my chat with Victoria.

I'm joined for this episode by Victoria Weir, campus programme and student lead for undergraduate programs at the University of Law. Victoria, welcome.

Victoria Weir: Thank you. Nice to be speaking to you today.

Dan Mason: And to you too. So can we just start before we get into the discussion of the LLB course, tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role?

Victoria Weir: Yes. So as you say, I'm the programmer student lead for undergraduate programs here at the Birmingham campus of the University of Law. I'm one of two PSLs. And we are in turn part of a team who cover all our campuses. And we're tasked with looking after and supporting students across our undergraduate law courses, making sure everything runs smoothly and offering students support as well as teaching on the programs. In terms of my background, my degree wasn’t actually in law. I studied History of Art at the University of Glasgow, and spent nearly 10 years working in art galleries in London. Before deciding I wanted to make a change. So I studied the GDL conversion part time in the evenings, and then became a full-time student to complete my Bar training at the Inns of Court School of Law. I've been teaching over 10 years now, initially as a part-time visiting lecturer and then as a full time member of the teaching team, and my specialism is in property law. So I've taught land law for many years that I sometimes get called upon to teach family and public law but of a busman's holiday, but I really enjoy that very much bit of variety to my teaching schedule.

Dan Mason: Fantastic and so let's get into this now, before we come on to the specifics of the University of Law course. Can you just give us a bit of an overview about what an LLB actually is, what the purpose of that degree is?

Victoria Weir: Absolutely. So the LLB degree is simply a shorthand name for the undergraduate law program Bachelor of Law. So the similar way if you're going off to university to study English literature you to be studying for a BA in English literature, it's the same for law. All students studying law at university are likely to be enrolled on an LLB program of one type or another. And as part of our degree, you'll study a range of core subject areas and optional subjects, which will equip you with the knowledge and skills which you need to build a successful career in law on or indeed any sort of professional career that you're planning. If you've just got an interest in law and want to know more about it.

Dan Mason: So as you say these LLB degrees are available widely at universities in the UK. Tell us a bit about the unique selling points of the course at the University of Law.

Victoria Weir: So I think our first USP our first unique point is our emphasis on practical law. The approach that we take is to teach law, the law that you need to support clients in your future role as solicitor or a barrister. And all our teaching focuses on helping you to develop those skills. So very practical. We certainly got academic elements and we aim to equip you with lots of academic skills but very contemporary law, thinking about what you're going to need to know for your future career. In terms of teaching, our teaching is delivered in a very structured way. With the emphasis being on our workshops where students work in small groups that are facilitated by a tutor. We follow a very unique model of teaching called PEC which stands for prepare, engage and consolidate. Students giving really structured tasks and reading to help them prepare for the sessions before coming to class, to engage and to put your learning into practice. And then again, after the sessions, we give you very structured consolidations tasks, so that you're building up in a sort of cycle that knowledge and understanding. And beyond the design of our courses. A unique selling point is the vast majority of our tutors are qualified lawyers. This means that they're able to bring their subjects to life and explain how the law, which has been taught in the classroom is used to help people resolve their issues in real life, something our students often feedback on, they find that really engaging and interesting that ability to bring things to life. Because our emphasis is on teaching, you get the absolute focus of our staff. And our sole aim is to support students to get the best results that they can. And finally, what makes the degree at ULaw unique is the our primary focus is on law and legal training. So you're studying at an institution, which will be teaching lawyers at every level of their studies, for students who are just starting out at the beginning of their careers and degrees, to those who are at the end of their legal training and about to start their professional career. So you join an ecosystem, you join an environment where every stage is covered, and you get to mix with all those different levels of students. And again, it creates a very positive environment in which to learn.

Dan Mason: And that's really interesting. And we'll come back shortly to one of the things you sort of touched on there, which is the practical focus of the course. But before we move on, so what type of student would be suited to this kind of course do you think?

Victoria Weir: So we know that many of the students enrolling with us will be planning a career in the law. And the LLB at the University of Law is obvious is, you know, is perfect for anyone who has an interest in law and the wider society. So it's not just for would be lawyers, it's suitable for anybody who has an interest in the law, and would be interested in studying in a supportive but challenging environment. As I say, it's not just for would be lawyers, many of our students end up pursuing a career which is outside of law and we know that the skills or knowledge that you're acquire, will be beneficial for any route that you take in the future. In terms of qualities, I think what makes a good student is firstly, curiosity. You need a questioning and inquiring mind to be a good lawyer. So you need to want to know more and be curious about finding things out. You do need to have a degree of resilience. A degree is a marathon and not a sprint and during the course of the three or four years of study, undoubtedly you're facing challenges, but our most successful students are not those who have not faced challenges, but rather those who have been able to overcome them. And finally, I think an important skill is the attention to detail, and the ability to gather information together from a range of sources. And of course, as with any degree, a desire to learn is essential.

Dan Mason: Excellent. And so once students have been through this course, we've talked a bit about the qualities they need going into it. What are the skills and knowledge that they will be equipped with by studying the LLB at the University of Law.

Victoria Weir: So in terms of knowledge, we've designed the course to make sure that you've got a variety of subjects which will provide you with a strong foundation on which to build your legal career. So core subjects that you're studying include public law now that looks at the composition of our state, and the relationship between citizens and state. And if this is a topic which interests you, then there's an opportunity to extend this by choosing our human rights module as an option. Another core subject would be land law, which looks at all aspects of land ownership in England and Wales. And again, this knowledge can be developed further by choosing our real estate module, which looks at how that landlord provides the foundation as the process of buying and selling land. So lots of core subjects and the opportunity to extend that knowledge and understanding into optional areas. In terms of skills, students will have the opportunity to develop their communication skills across a range of formats. So it could be oral skills, oral presentations, developing skills in writing, and written work. I've already mentioned that analysis is a key skill which any lawyer will need. And so we help you to develop that skill and learning how to spot the issues that a client's situation raises will develop that further. Another key skill that comes from studying law is the ability to explain complex ideas in a clear and concise way. Finally, perhaps one of the most important skills and one that's transferable to all future professional skills is time management. They'll come moments where you've got lots of different assessments going on. And the ability to order your prioritise your work and work towards a deadline really helps to develop that key skill of time management.

Dan Mason: So a really wide range then of skills and knowledge. And that feeds into the next the next question, which is, well, you've already talked a little bit about how students on the course some will be going into law and others won't. But can you talk a little bit more about how the degree helps graduates progress their career?

Victoria Weir: Absolutely. So our degree is very much not just about classroom learning, embedded into our curriculum, our employability sessions, which will help students to prepare for the recruitment process by offering CV writing workshops, tips on securing work experience placements, how to approach applications for vacation schemes, or grad schemes or work experience. We offer regular employer talks, to allow students to develop their networking skills, but also to acquire commercial awareness. Being able to talk about what's going on in the industry or profession at the time of an interview is really essential, and something that we know that employers are looking for. To demonstrate awareness and a keenness to become engaged in that particular field. We have a thriving pro bono department. So that's where students have the opportunity to support people who have got legal issues on a free of charge basis. And that's an incredible opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge which has been developed in the classroom, while helping those who may not be able to afford legal assistance. But we also have a range of extra-curricular activities focused on having the opportunity to develop key legal skills such as client interviewing, and mooting, which is a form of legal debate. And again, that links back to this development of different skills, transferable skills such as presentation, analysis, and public speaking.

Dan Mason: Okay, let's go back now to something that you've touched on a little bit already. And that is the practical focus of this course, could you go into a bit more detail about that.

Victoria Weir: Absolutely. So from day one, we aim to get our students thinking like a lawyer. So all our teaching materials are presented in such a way that students start to see legal issues as a real life problem, which real life people may be experiencing, rather than just sort of a dry academic subject on, you know, in a book. So our students receive instructions from clients in the form of emails or letters. And these form the basis of the workshop tasks that I've mentioned already. And indeed, assessments, supporting documents presented in the form of the type of documents which lawyers would be expected to review. So it may be, for example, title documents in land, or articles of association and business modules. So again, you're getting used to the sorts of paperwork that you'll be dealing with when you are in practice. So the emphasis is on students using the skills which they're being taught to analyse the issues, and use the law to help resolve the problem or to provide advice on next steps. Many of our assessments take the form of portfolios, where you may be asked to prepare a range of documents from reports to memos, or may take the form of an advice to clients so that the students are developing their written communication skills, but in the context of a professional setting. So very much practice, not just in terms of the way that we teach, but also in the way that we assess students on the course.

Dan Mason: Excellent. And that's been a fantastic overview and insight and I think a really good way to end would be for you to if you can just what would your advice be for anyone who is now having heard this considering doing an LLB as their next step?

Victoria Weir: The first thing is be realistic. A career in law is incredibly rewarding, but also very demanding. Do you understand what's actually involved? Many of us enjoy court based dramas on the TV and this can shape our view of what life as a lawyer is, but to be honest, it's not very realistic. So work experience can help give a real insight into the everyday life of a lawyer and can help confirm that this is the degree for you. Secondly, be prepared. Law is all around us and the type of issues which we'll be discussing in class come up every day. So start to develop the curiosity you need to be a good lawyer by reading newspapers, such as the times the Guardian, listen to the news on the radio, and try and find radio programs such as law in action where contemporary legal issues are discussed. Plan ahead. Recognise it if you're studying full time, you need to be able to dedicate full time hours to your study. So think about how you're going to meet your living expenses for the year and think about what you can do ahead of time to minimise the number of hours you need to be working during term time. And then finally, go for it. The law is a fantastic, fascinating topic and it touches every aspect of our lives. It is intellectually challenging, but incredibly stimulating. It's not just for would be lawyers. Anyone hoping to secure a professional career at the end of their degree can benefit from the skills knowledge experience, which law degree offers, and I really recommend it as a degree. I loved it. I continue to love it.

Dan Mason: Fantastic last when really brilliant Victoria, thanks so much for your time.

Victoria Weir: Thanks very much. Nice to speak to you.

Dan Mason: Thanks very much to Victoria for joining me. And to learn more about the University of Law and their law programs, head to their website law.ac.uk. You can explore lots more careers advice by visiting prospects.ac.uk and hear more from the Future You podcast. Follow us on Spotify, Apple podcast, or wherever you listen and get in touch with comments, feedback and suggestions by emailing podcast@prospects.ac.uk. That's it for this episode. Thanks very much for listening. And we'll see you soon.

Note on transcripts

This transcript was produced using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. The audio version is definitive and should be checked before quoting.

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