The article was guest-written by Graduate Foundation in Law student, Kate Horsburgh who shares her experience with the course and converting to law. The graduate Foundation in Law was ran from 2022-2023 and has now been replaced by the Graduate Diploma in Law
Now that I've submitted my final assessments, here are my thoughts on the Graduate Foundation in Law programme and my overall experience with the College of Legal Practice.
I was a part-time student, studying from the start of October to the beginning of July. Full disclaimer – during the assessment periods, it didn’t feel very ‘part-time’, so I would only recommend going for the ‘full-time’ GFL option if you are able to dedicate the bulk of your time to studying. All of the content covered in the course is so fundamental to our future careers in law – this was highlighted during my last two weeks of vacation schemes, where it was a useful experience to put some of the knowledge learnt during the GFL into practice.
Following our Introduction to Law module (October – November), we started our first block of teaching, looking at Public & EU law, Trusts law, and Land law (November – February). After completing assessments in these subjects, we moved on to the second block of teaching, studying Contract law, Criminal law, and Tort law (March-July).
We had a 2-hour workshop every Tuesday morning, rotating around the different modules in each block. For each workshop, we would prepare our analysis on a Scenario Template and an Issues Template in advance, and then work together as a group, under the guidance of our tutors, to find the solutions. We generally would start off with our tutors providing a useful overview of the area of law, clarifying any doubts which may have arisen in our preparation stage. I enjoyed the format of the sessions – I liked the mixture between applying the law to a hypothetical situation for the Scenario Template, and researching academic responses to developments in certain areas of law for the Issues Template, which would always lead to interesting group discussions.
In terms of resources, the College provide us with a hefty GFL Manual (both an online copy and a paper copy), which is a useful resource outlining the basics, and key case law/legislation in a given area. We also have access to introductory podcasts (and their transcripts) on each topic – a great way to break up the reading and learn in a different style. The College makes your life very easy in terms of pinpointing articles/sections in legislation/case law which would be handy when tackling the workshop prep, whilst also equipping you with the skills to go away and conduct this research yourself, if required.
Rewinding back to October, we started with Introduction to Law with the lovely Eddie, introducing us to key legal principles, and the Westlaw/Practical Law databases to which all COLP students have access. Whilst the assessment doesn’t count towards our final grade, it was a good chance for us to receive feedback, and make sure that we were comfortable with the basics before moving on with the course content.
Starting with Trusts and Land law, I have to be honest – for the first couple of workshops, I found the content particularly challenging, but I remember Laura reassuring us that “eventually, it will click”. And, sure enough, she was right. I definitely think that the assessments are designed to consolidate your understanding of the modules – it’s all coursework-style, allowing you to read around the topics, rather than just cram in your revision last minute. Although stressful at times (!), I would say that the GFL assessments were, by far, the most enjoyable set of assessments I’ve ever done (this always gets a questioning look when I say this to my friends!).
One thing (of many!) that I really liked about the course was the support available from the College at all times. Each student is appointed a personal tutor, and we would have meetings every now and then to make sure that I was happy with the work, enjoying the course, and ensuring that I was staying on top of the workload. My personal tutor, Naomi, was also there to advise more broadly on how best to progress my legal career. I really enjoyed hearing her insights. Naomi also taught our Criminal Law module, which, despite not thinking it would be an area I would particularly enjoy at the start of the course if truth be told, I found really interesting (credit to Naomi for bringing all the concepts to life!). I would definitely recommend trying to keep an open mind when studying the different modules, even if it is not an area in which you can visualise yourself specialising in future.
Alongside the personal tutor meetings, the support from the tutors is fantastic as well – they are always happy to stay behind after a workshop to clarify any areas you don’t understand, and they are really great at explaining complex areas in a concise and easy-to-follow manner. Having spoken to a few prospective students in my role as Student Ambassador, I know a few people voiced concerns about the College being a ‘risky’ option, given how new it is, and its unique, all-online approach. Rest assured – the tutors really know their stuff. They’re experienced professionals, many of whom have had many years of teaching experience. And, for me, the online aspect worked well, giving me extra flexibility when structuring my days. The workshops are now recorded too, so, whilst I would always recommend that you should try to attend, you are able to easily catch up should you have to miss a session or two.
Because we were a fairly small cohort, we all got to know each other fairly well, despite only meeting virtually! I know I will stay in contact with some of my classmates, and I look forward to seeing how their careers progress.
A special shout-out must go to Laura Hall – a fantastic teacher who took us through Land, Trusts, and Tort law. I looked forward to each and every one of her sessions, and I know that any future GFL students are in safe hands with her as the module lead!
All in all, I would highly recommend studying with The College of Legal Practice. As a student, you get access to real expertise, experience and resources at a very affordable price. The GFL has equipped me with the knowledge and skills required to continue confidently with my legal studies. Thank you to all at the College for making my experience so positive.
If anyone has any questions about the course or the College, please feel free to get in touch with me via my Student Ambassador Instagram account - @kateconvertstolaw. Alternatively, the recruitment team is really friendly and helpful, so get in touch and schedule a one-to-one meeting with one of the team via the website or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).