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The Oracle

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

updated on 31 August 2021

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 don’t 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).

There’s a common misconception that doing a master’s will make up for any bad results you may have accrued at these earlier stages however, this is not the case.

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 – be prepared to pay the fees or take out a postgraduate student loan;
  • an ambition to become a specialist (eg, studying tax for the tax Bar if you are pursuing a career as a barrister); and
  • a postgraduate qualification is something you regard as a personal ambition.

LPC/SQE 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/Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and Bar course become eligible.

LawCareers.Net’s first advice is to always apply for a training contract before undertaking the LPC or SQE, 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.

To find out more on how to manage your money, head to our Finances section.

SQE course funding

The SQE is a new system designed to assess solicitors at the point of qualifying.

It will gradually replace the LPC over the next few years, so depending on how you plan your career journey, you could end up taking a new SQE preparation course instead of the LPC.

Find out more about the similarities and differences between the SQE and traditional routes.

Many SQE preparation courses can be combined with a master’s in the same way as the LPC or a traditional law conversion. This means that students can access postgraduate student loan funding to help them through the SQE route, while also having the opportunity to add an extra qualification to their CVs.

Head to LCN’s SQE Hub page for more detailed information about the preparation courses on offer and recent updates.  

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.