In his letter to the Gazette, Ben Hope was quite right to say that it is very difficult for ‘diplomates’ – those who have gained the diploma in legal practice – to obtain training contracts. Unfortunately, he confuses matters by calling them ‘law graduates’ and goes on to argue that we might have too many (undergraduate) law students.
The latest figures from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey (for graduates of 2011) show that 10,300 home-based law graduates from the UK were of known destination in January 2012. We have to remember that this includes graduates from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Only 3,200 were recorded going on to study either full- or part-time and 1,345 were combining work with study.
So fewer than half of law graduates who responded to the survey were continuing to study and some of them would be taking higher degrees, studying for the bar or taking courses other than the legal practice course. Many employers outside the legal profession welcome applications for jobs from law undergraduates because of the education they have received and the abilities they have developed. Only 8% of law graduates were unemployed, a proportion probably similar to many other non-law graduates.
I suggest that in future we use the term ‘diplomates’ for those who have gained the diploma in legal practice and ‘graduates’ for those with first degrees. So far as the surplus of diplomates is concerned, we shall have to see what recommendations the Legal Education and Training Review makes at the end of this year and to what extent any rule changes alter the situation for diplomates.
Brian Read, careers adviser to LPC students, University of Sheffield