Law School Discussion

LLB as a 'leg-up' for JD application?

LLB as a 'leg-up' for JD application?
« on: August 22, 2012, 03:48:03 PM »
Hello All,

Background: I'm currently an infantryman in the United States Army, but I'd be interested in pursuing a less dangerous vocation once my contract expires. Many of my academic and personal strengths seem to match up with those frequently associated with law, so I thought I would look into it. My standardized test scores and the feedback I've received from my professors throughout college (seem to) indicate that I have a relatively high verbal intelligence, and ceteris paribus, let's assume that I'm cut out to be a lawyer (i.e., I'll do as well on my LSATs as I did on the SATs, I'll be able to perform well in the grad/J.D. programs I take, &c.).

I have a problem, though: I didn't do terribly while studying for the Philosophy B.A. (UGPA = 2.50) I earned at a well-known liberal arts college.

(1) I'm looking for a grad school or other option to help set myself apart and apply to a good J.D. program.
(1.1) I'd prefer that whatever post-grad education I take doesn't eat up my entire salary or G.I. Bill, both of which I am attempting to either save for my J.D. or use on undergrad loans.
(2) I'm considering the UoL External LLB program, as my primary credential to show that academics is not a weakness for me as a student (i.e., to compensate for my UGPA) and that I can 'do' law school.

Why UoL External LLB? As an infantryman, I'll have considerable--if irregular--'down-time' to stare at my PDA or smartphone. I have a 5-year contract, significant leave, and down-time in which to attempt the LLB course of study. More traditional brick-and-mortar grad programs might be (a) inaccessible to me because of my UGPA, (b) physically inaccessible to me because of my career, or (c) useless, ultimately, because many J.D. programs wouldn't be too impressed by an expensive, academically anonymous philosophy M.A.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with this program?

Does anyone have any thoughts or criticisms for my plan?
Specifically, would anyone happen to know if admissions departments for upper-tier J.D. programs would see an LLB earned from UoL External in the manner I'd attempt to present it?

Any better ideas?

Thank you.

Re: LLB as a 'leg-up' for JD application?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2012, 06:15:30 AM »
The UoL External LLB is a great degree however it makes little sense to use as a qualifier for a JD application. English law while similar in some respects is not the same as US law. The LLB will qualify you for a 1 year training contract in England after which time you will be awarded a Practicing Certificate. Then you can try to qualify for the New York or another Bar Exam without a JD.  The key here is whether as US citizen you could get the necessary work permit for a training contract in London, I suggest having a dialog with UoL about this as it is something I am sure they deal with from all their non EU citizen students.

Re: LLB as a 'leg-up' for JD application?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2012, 08:49:49 AM »
Then you can try to qualify for the New York or another Bar Exam without a JD.

Since this is an online degree, wouldn't the holder be limited to the states that accept distance learning degrees for bar admission? Typically, a foreign degree is evaluated by the state bar to see if comparable to an ABA degree. Since the ABA won't accredit distance learning JD programs, I would think this degree wouldn't qualify in most jurisdictions.

Any better ideas?

I think you may be better served by focusing your time, energy, and money on the LSAT. On a strict cost/benefit analysis, the LL.B probably won't produce dividends commensurate with the effort and money you'll expend.

Law school admissions is a numbers game, and your GPA/LSAT profile will dominate the process. Additional degrees will be considered soft factors, and may help if you are on the cusp of admission. Otherwise, the conventional wisdom indicates that a second B.A., M.A., work experience, etc., will not come into play in most situations.

Secondly, I'm not sure that the UoL External LL.B would be viewed with any more respect than the M.A. in Philosophy you mentioned. My understanding is that while a standard LL.B from the University of London is certainly well regarded, the External program is similar to that uniquely European institution, the Open University. The admissions are comparatively open, and let's face it, online degrees are simply not viewed in the same way. (The merits of this issue are the subject of endless debate, but it is a fact.) The U.S. equivalent to the External Programmes might be the Harvard Extension School: Harvard, but with an asterick.

With a 2.5 GPA what you really need is a very high LSAT score. If you can acheive this, an LL.B won't matter anyway. Schools will admit you based on the high LSAT. Conversely, if you score low, an LL.B won't really help you either. Everything hinges on the LSAT. If you want to earn the LL.B for reasons of personal enrichment, go for it. It's a cool degree from a globally recognized university. If you're only doing in order to boost your admission chances, however, I'd say simply focus on the LSAT.

Re: LLB as a 'leg-up' for JD application?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 08:09:13 PM »
I would not enroll in the UoL LL.B program unless you have full time to devote to your studies. The scholastics in the UK and the exams are rigorous. The UK market is saturated  with law grads who can't land a training contract and try to land a slot as a paralegal, assuming a firm will hire them. The deregulation of the legal industry (Legal Services Act) has created a tight legal market wherein many law grads will likely never qualify as a solicitor, and even less likely as a barrister.

For a foreign law degree holder to qualify to sit the California bar (or other state bar), you generallly have to be a practicing lawyer in the foreign jurisdiction. Thus, you would have to be licensed either as a solicitor, through the Law Society of England and Wells, or otherwise the Bar Council, as a practicing barrister.

In addition to your LL.B, you would also have to complete the LPC to practice as a solicitor, or BVC to practice as a barrister. You would be looking at $25,000-$30,000 for those courses.

Assuming you earned a UoL LL.B, your chances of landing a training contract without UK citizenship is next to nil. As mentioned, the market is already saturated with law grads desperate to land a paralegal position, and only a small number go on to receive a training contract, as there are not many to go around.

Your best bet is to enroll is an online law school in the U.S. My recommendation is Northwestern California University School of Law, or American International School of Law. I also really like Ben Ramos, J.D., who oversees the University of Honolulu School of Law in Modesto, California. A super guy who you should talk to, if you decide to go the online law school route. 

I honestly can't recommend the UoL LL.B route if you plan to practice in the U.S., as pretty much all states will expect you to be licensed in the foreign jurisdiction.


Re: LLB as a 'leg-up' for JD application?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2012, 08:04:27 AM »
I agree - I went to an online California law school and then qualified as a solicitor via the QLTT based on my PQE  and passing three exams.  Unless one is a dual EU/US citizen, the training contract is not going to happen.