The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is a year-long conversion course for non-law graduates which results in obtaining a qualifying law degree. Whilst many students are intimidated by the prospect of studying the GDL, this blog post aims to make your experience as straightforward as possible. I recently completed the GDL, having previously worked as a paralegal at the firm and have been offered a training contract to commence in 2016, and will begin studying the LPC in September this year.
1. Be organised
The study method on the GDL consists of lectures and workshops. Whilst lectures are similar to those at university, GDL workshops involve reviewing ‘homework’ activities and completing activities in groups, such as problem questions. Given the high volume of group work involved, it is important to plan ahead to ensure that all workshop preparation is completed, and to avoid being underprepared in class. Keeping a diary of any important dates and deadlines is another useful way to manage the large workload.
2. Practice makes perfect!
Throughout the GDL your work will commonly be assessed by problem questions. Typically you are given a fictional client scenario and you must use your knowledge to advise the client. At university I was used to writing essays, and therefore initially found it difficult to adapt to problem questions. However, weekly participation in workshops provides the opportunity to tackle problem questions in a group before reviewing them with a tutor. There are also plenty of past-exam papers and sample answers available on the intranet, which are particularly helpful for revision.
3. Make the most of the resources on offer
Students can make the most of any of the resources offered by the careers centre. Students can also attend any workshops and skill-sessions which focus on relevant topics to assist with obtaining a training contract and improving your skill set.
4. Get stuck in!
Outside of the classroom, mooting (or mock trial) competitions provide the opportunity to prepare and present a fictional case in front of a ‘judge’. Other popular extra-curricular activities include pro-bono work, which involves working with members of the community to raise awareness of and provide advice on a range of legal issues. All of these activities help to give an edge to vacation scheme and training contract applications, and improve important legal skills.
5. Start revision early
Ultimately, keeping on top of workshop preparation and coursework throughout the year will ensure that you have a good set of notes to use for revision, and enable you to begin your revision as soon as possible. Regular mock examinations may also seem demanding, however they provide the opportunity to get to grips with exam-style questions and prepare you well for coping with the main examinations in the summer.