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29 SEP 2011

Young Lawyers - Mandeep Gill: Is qualifying as a lawyer beyond price?

Mandeep DhamiWith the Government's recent announcement that universities from the next academic year will be able to set university course fees as high as £9,000 per year, future students are looking at forking out the substantial figure of up to £27,000 for their degrees. The question I ask myself is will this put some of the brightest prospective law students off from higher education and re-thinking their career choices in circumstances where it is already a serious financial commitment to enter the legal profession? There can be no doubt that qualifying as a solicitor or barrister is already one of the most expensive professions to pursue.

I suspect that those who would have previously dreamt about going through university life going from one pub crawl to the next may have to rethink their plans, but what about the others - those that wish to pursue legal careers and need a degree to do so.

Even without the introduction of crippling course fees, those wishing to enter the legal profession already have to pay out huge sums to undertake the LPC or BVC. Thereafter those wishing to qualify as solicitors will in addition have a period of two years on trainee solicitor wage rates. Whilst this is a financial burden that prospective lawyers have been undertaking up until now, is there not the danger now that some of the brightest prospective lawyers will find it impossible to justify this expense with no guarantee that a fruitful legal career will follow, particularly in these economic times of fewer opportunities and increased competition for the opportunities that remain. Will this have an impact on the profession in terms of young new blood entering the profession? Will only those that can rely on the bank of mum and dad be only those that are able to contemplate the legal profession as a path to follow?

On the other hand, it may be that the substantial increase in course fees ensures that only the crème de la crème of prospective lawyers even contemplate obtaining a degree and entering the profession, and those who are really serious about qualifying as a lawyer will find means and ways to cope with the extra initial dent into their finances.

I suppose only time will tell as to how not only the makeup of university students from next year changes if all, but also whether there is an impact on the legal profession at the newly qualified end.

Mandeep Gill is an Assistant Solicitor at The International Family Law Group LLP in Covent Garden, London. Her particular specialism is in complex international children cases.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

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