When choosing where to study my GDL, I was keen to pick somewhere that had an emphasis on small-group learning and where I would be able to learn from tutors who had first-hand experience of the legal industry, as either solicitors or barristers.
More about Caitlin
My first degree was in History, which I absolutely loved. I enjoyed drawing information from a range of sources, analysing it and then building it into an argument, and so I wanted to pursue a career that used similar skills. I was lucky enough to complete a couple of work experience placements and internships with various law firms throughout my undergraduate degree, and I gained more experience in the legal industry during my year out. Alongside this I also gained experience in the heritage, charity, and education sectors to keep my options open, but I kept coming back to law! After my gap year, I decided to take the plunge and study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
I knew that Nottingham Law School had a really good reputation, and I had worked with a few lawyers who had done the course at NLS. They all praised the quality of teaching and support. Knowing that the GDL was an intensive, academically-challenging course, I was certain that I needed to be somewhere which offered excellent teaching and course materials.
The emphasis on small-group seminars was a big draw for me. My undergraduate degree was heavily focused on seminars and discussion as a means for learning, and it’s a style of teaching that suits me really well. I particularly liked the idea of working through weekly scenarios and applying the relevant legal principles and cases, and it didn’t seem to be as common elsewhere.
When choosing where to study my GDL, I was keen to pick somewhere that had an emphasis on small-group learning and where I would be able to learn from tutors who had first-hand experience of the legal industry, as either solicitors or barristers. I also wanted to study at a Law School that had an excellent reputation and career support. NLS was a good match for all of these.
The quality of the library and its resources was a big draw for me. I live out of Nottingham, so spend a significant portion of my day in the library working. Having a good library and access to resources both on and off of campus was therefore crucial.
I use the NTU online workspace, NOW almost daily during term time in order to access lecture and seminar materials. I also use it to listen back to lectures to catch up or to consolidate my understanding of particular topics. It is also a useful way of keeping up with news coming through the Law School or messages from tutors. For examples there have been a few times this year when there have been developments or changes to the law that are relevant to certain modules, and my tutors have brought my attention to it through NOW.
Throughout my GDL, I have been self-employed as a private tutor. I have 9 students and deliver 13 hours of teaching a week. On top of this, I spend around 4 or 5 hours a week doing lesson preparation or preparing feedback for essays and work. I’ve been able to manage my time by setting aside my Saturdays as a work day. I also teach for an hour or so on a few weekday evenings.
The fact that we don’t have any lectures or seminars on a Friday is really helpful, as I can get a lot of my course work done then which takes some of the pressure off. I’ve generally found that being at university from 9 am until 4 or 5 pm during the weekdays has helped me stay on top of my work and get everything done that I need to.
I currently have a summer vacation scheme with an international law firm lined up for the summer, which I am hoping to convert into a training contract. I am also applying for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and hopefully I will be staying at NLS.
I would advise prospective students to be aware that the course is quite intense, and that you need to stay on top of your work. It’s manageable (and it is possible to still have a social life and hobbies!) but there is a lot of information to absorb in not much time.