Why study in the U.K by Tonia Magda
As an international student, with goals to work amongst the best lawyers in the UK, the question often arises as to why I want to establish myself here, and why I even came to law school in the UK in the first place.
Whilst it is understandable and common to not know what field you want to develop a career in, it can be frustrating to know exactly what you want to do but have to endure a longer process to achieve it. It is not uncommon in many education systems to attend up to seven years of university in order to obtain a law degree, which is why studying law in England is so advantageous. A three-year LLB is equivalent to a JD and is recognised in all common law jurisdictions. Even if you return to your home country after completing the LLB, you may be years ahead of other law candidates depending on the jurisdiction you live in. However, there are numerous reasons why you may find that you want to remain in the UK after all.
London has often been described as the financial hub of the world. With the deregulation of its financial markets, London also welcomed foreign companies as players and electronic trading as an innovative way to move to the top of the charts. And with its advantageous time zone, you could even go so far as to call it the world’s capital in general; breakfast with Tokyo, dinner with New York! If you’re not convinced, a study by the Boston Consulting Group polling over 200,000 individuals spread over 189 countries found that more people would want to work in London than any other city in the world. They must be onto something…
The UK is constantly pushing for innovation and keeping up with the rapidly developing world of technology. The future is tech and the UK knows it. Having companies among the World’s Most Innovative Companies list, law firms here not only have an abundance of opportunities to represent these cutting-edge businesses, but also to undertake a consistent stream of new technology in their very own offices. Cutting work down using artificial intelligence like Kira and eDiscovery are proving the efficiency benefits of innovation in the workplace and keeping only lawyers, but also their clients, steadily satisfied.
The law firms in this country are top tier. Of the top 10 biggest law firms, four are headquartered in the UK, and the remainder have massive, expanding offices here. Major international legal players are housed in the UK, bringing elite work to firms all over the country. Imagine not only handling top multi-jurisdictional global cases, but also doing it alongside the brightest minds the legal field has to offer. UK lawyers are continuously topping the charts as the best litigators, dealmakers, and in-house counsel that the legal market has to offer. Train with and be trained by the best.
Speaking of global, let’s talk about all the international opportunities available to lawyers in the UK. What better geographical position than right here? A client needs you to be at the development site in Italy? You’re there in a few hours. Needed for negotiations at the Berlin office? You’re there. Even as a trainee, many firms in the UK boast international secondments around the world! As multi-cultured and diverse as the UK is, there’s no better way to develop a global mindset and stay up to date on world affairs, than by embarking on the international opportunities offered.
Of course, with the good comes the bad, and it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows. As you can imagine, you will face some difficulties upon moving to the UK, and even upon applying for training contracts. Relocating to a new country can be challenging, especially if you do it at a young age. It’ll take time to develop a new support system, make new friends, learn what each shop —shops you’ve never even heard of— sells, how to navigate the public transit, and so many other things, but remember, young people are adaptable and can easily thrive in new environments! Although some of these may seem minuscule, dealing with them all at once can be stressful, even more so if perhaps English isn’t your first language. The culture will also be vastly more different than you assume. I consider myself independent and confident, but I spent my first year in the UK wanting to go home simply because I found it hard to change my tune. Nevertheless, now I can boast about my immense flexibility and adaptability — with every storm comes a rainbow. You will adjust, you will learn where everything is, you’ll be a local in no time. Yes, it’s scary to put yourself in a completely new setting, but diamonds are made under pressure; trust that you’ll figure it out as you go along… and no one is expecting you to be giving local tours anytime soon.
As you learn the ins and outs of a new country, you will also need to learn the ins and outs of a new market. International students may have advantage in that they may be knowledgeable on affairs happening abroad or may be multi-lingual and can use these skills and knowledge to appeal to international law firms, but the disadvantage to obtaining a training contract runs parallel. The firms in the UK may not be the firms you have at home, meaning you’ll have to do extensive research to find out exactly what each firm does and which firms you should be applying to. You will also need to educate yourself on the market here and find out what factors are important to it. For example, your home country may not be big on blockchain, but in the UK, blockchain technology is becoming more and more prominent through the course of business and it may be beneficial to your commercial awareness to brush up on how it can impact and benefit law firms and their clients. So whilst it may seem that you are originally at a disadvantage, the extra time and effort you put into researching to familiarise yourself with firms in the UK and what commercial factors are playing a role here, you may just come up on the other side more informed than others!
A quicker access to a career in law, being so close to a key city, the perpetual innovative nature of the firms, the leading work and lawyers within top firms, and the plethora of international possibilities; sounds ideal if you ask me. It may be difficult to adjust and learn how to thrive in a new country, but if you stick around, you may just find you’ll like it as much as I do.