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The Oracle

Will a master’s increase my chance of a training contract?

updated on 11 February 2020

Dear Oracle

I'm thinking of doing a master’s – could this help me to stand out when applying for a training contract?

The Oracle replies

Most UK law firms do not include a master’s qualification in their academic requirements, so adding one to your CV will not necessarily give you an advantage as an applicant. Instead, most firms ask for a good undergraduate degree result (ie, at least a 2.1) and three good A levels (ie, As and Bs). Doing a master’s will not make up for any bad results you may have accrued at these earlier stages.

But although completing a master’s will not give you a competitive edge as a job applicant, there are several other reasons why continuing your studies could make perfect sense. These include studying for the love of the subject (as long as you are prepared to pay the fees or take out a postgraduate student loan), or an ambition to become a specialist (eg, studying tax for the tax Bar if you are pursuing a career as a barrister). In fact, for some areas of the barristers’ profession, a master’s is almost essential. And if a postgraduate qualification is something you regard as a personal ambition, then this is an equally valid reason.

LPC and Bar course loan funding

Another – very pragmatic – reason to do a master’s is because the vocational qualifications needed to become a solicitor or barrister are not eligible for the government’s postgraduate student loan scheme, but when combined with a master’s, both the LPC and Bar course become eligible. LawCareers.Net’s first advice is to always apply for a training contract before undertaking the LPC, as many firms sponsor their future trainees through the course. However, if you are having to self-fund the vocational stage, incorporating a master’s into your studies can mean that you avoid having to pay the fees until you are working full time.

This situation is likely to remain the same when the Solicitors Qualifying Exam replaces the LPC in 2021, with the range of new preparation courses in development bound to include the option to incorporate a master’s. To find out more, head to the Finances section.

Practising in an overseas jurisdiction

Finally, in some international jurisdictions, a master's is as important as a first degree. If you are an international student returning home at the end of your studies, or if you are hoping to train overseas, it is worth finding out what the desirable level of education is in that jurisdiction.

Head to the Courses section to find out more about some of the institutions that offer postgrad study.