updated on 12 January 2021
I plan to become a solicitor and am about to apply for a law conversion course. I was wondering what the major differences between the GDL and graduate-entry LLB are? Which is viewed more favourably by employers?
Law conversion courses such as the GDL provide non-law graduates with a diploma equivalent to a law degree. They take one year to complete if studied full time, and there are also options for flexible part-time study over two or more years.
The graduate-entry LLB is a two-year, full-time course which equips you with an LLB rather than a graduate diploma. Both are similar qualifications, but the graduate entry LLB allows for broader study similar to that of a first degree.
The major difference between the courses is that there are no electives on a law conversion, which packs the essential elements of a law degree into one year if studied full time, while the LLB enables you to take optional electives in addition to the core subjects. On the GDL, you study the seven foundations of legal knowledge (contract, tort, crime, equity and trusts, EU, property and public) that must be studied before you can take the LPC.
Be aware that from 2021 the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) will be introduced, replacing the LPC as the assessment that must be passed before qualifying as a solicitor. It will no longer be required to have a law degree or law conversion to become a solicitor – you will just need to pass the two stages of the SQE. However, it would be almost impossible to pass the assessments without first completing some formal legal study, so the LLB and conversion courses for non-law graduates are here to stay.
Employers don't mind whether candidates have an LLB or law conversion – the two are completely equal in the eyes of recruiters. You might consider the LLB if you want a less intensive academic experience and would like extra time to apply for vacation schemes and training contracts. The benefit of the GDL is its shorter timeframe - it enables you to complete the course in half the time and save considerably on costs.
Ultimately, it depends on your finances, timeframe and what you want to get out of the course – but there is no difference in value to employers.