Will doing a master’s improve my chances of a training contract?
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I'm thinking of doing a master’s degree after I graduate. What factors should I take into account when making the decision and would it improve my chances of securing a training contract?
The Oracle replies
Deciding whether or not to study a master's depends entirely on why you want to do it (and whether or not you can afford it!). Valid reasons include studying for the love of the subject or a desire to develop expertise in a subject because you want to be a top-notch practitioner (eg, studying tax for the tax Bar). If a postgraduate qualification is something you regard as a personal ambition, then this is an equally valid reason.
Firms’ minimum academic requirements
It may be that you are considering a career in academic law, in which case a master's will almost certainly be vital. If, however, you see it as the way round a lower than expected first degree result in order to get a training contract or pupillage, proceed with caution. Few law firms or chambers will take account of a master's degree if your undergraduate degree result falls below their entry requirement and you have no genuine mitigating circumstances. Certainly, most UK law firms do not count a master's as part of their selection criteria. A master’s will not make up for a 2.2 or take precedence over the core academic requirements at your chosen law firm or chambers.
LPC and BPTC funding
That said, there is one very good reason to take a master’s – funding. Postgraduate study loans from the government are only available for master’s courses, not professional qualifications, which means that the standalone LPC and BPTC are ineligible.
However, many law schools and universities now offer the LPC and BPTC with an added master’s qualification as part of the course, which makes LLM LPCs and LLM BPTCs eligible for postgraduate study loans, in addition to providing an extra academic boost to a student’s CV.
To find out more, go 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.
Check out our Courses section to find out more about some of the institutions that offer postgrad study.