Ryan McLaughlin obtained his LLB degree at the University of Aberdeen and is currently studying the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the University of Glasgow.
This post is targeted mainly at current LLB students who may be thinking about sitting the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in order to gain a traineeship and, ultimately, qualify as a solicitor.
What does the diploma involve?
The diploma looks to provide LLB graduates the necessary skills in order to be a 'day-one trainee.' Basically this means the course entails much more practical and sometimes group-based work which is similar to the sort of work which you would be given as a trainee.
The course is taught by practising solicitors and other professionals instead of university academics or professors. From my own experience of the diploma at the University of Glasgow, I have really enjoyed applying the knowledge I gained in the LLB in a more practical setting.
Having to work through scenarios and coursework which emulate what you could be faced with as a trainee really shows the value of what you have learned during the LLB. For me, it has made the academic nature of the law seem much more real. For example, as part of the conveyancing course so much of the focus is on the type of potential client who you are working with and how you must shape your advice to suit their goals. It's about noticing the differences between dealing with a large property developer, compared to dealing with an individual looking to purchase their first home.
Choosing the courses that are right for you
The discussion of conveyancing leads me on to my second point about diploma courses. All the universities running the diploma require students to sit compulsory courses and also choose from a number of optional ones. The optional courses differ depending on which university you sit the diploma, and at Glasgow, the optional courses begin in the second semester.
The point I want to make is that you may find that you enjoy courses on the diploma even if you previously didn't like that subject, or one similar to it, at undergraduate level.
I personally have really enjoyed conveyancing, but during my LLB I had no interest whatsoever in property law. I think this sentiment also rings true with regards to traineeship seats as well. From speaking to trainees, and reading the trainee blogs, I have found that some like working in an area of law which they didn't have any interest in, or even actively disliked, while studying the LLB.
The Diploma is a bridging point between undergraduate study and working as a trainee, and as such the way the courses are taught is different. Keep an open mind when it comes to the diploma courses which you may already dislike.
I'm not saying you will find that you love tax law, but, who knows, you might!