Battle for the young lawyer

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Nottingham Trent boasts the new Law Society president among its alumni, Derby has the only undergraduate coroners' law course in the country, and Nottingham's graduates have gone on to work at the UN. But which university should you go to if you're planning on studying in the East Midlands?

What is the standout feature of studying outside London?

Nottingham Trent University (NTU): Strong links and ready access to regional and national firms and judiciary; costs are a lot lower in terms of both tuition fees and living costs; and Nottingham has excellent transport links.

The University of Derby, who are assisted in their responses by LLB student Alex Cherry (UoD): The atmosphere – the workload may be intense but the atmosphere and surroundings do not follow suit.

University of Nottingham (UoN): Studying in the East Midlands, and in Nottingham in particular, offers easy access to all parts of the country and exposes students to large local and regional firms, in addition to the big city firms.

What is the USP of your law school?

NTU: With over 50 years’ experience, we are experts in many aspects of legal teaching and training, and also have a strong national and international reputation for legal research.

UoD: We provide real world learning for our students to practise in professional environments, whether it’s in our custom-built forensic training house or our recently opened Crown Court room. We do our best to provide facilities that can equip our students for the world of work.

UoN: We are one of the leading centres in the world for legal research, and we are ranked as one of the UK’s top law schools. An undergraduate or postgraduate degree from the School of Law at Nottingham gives you the specialist skills and knowledge you need for your chosen career.

Describe your law school in three words

NTU: World-leading, innovative, and professional.

UoD: Innovative, challenging, and fun.

UoN: Acclaimed, inspiring, and dynamic.

What's your campus culture like?

NTU: It’s located in the heart of the city centre with easy access to national and international transport links. The university has invested heavily in the regeneration of historic buildings on the campus, providing students with modern lecture theatres, teaching rooms, and light and airy meeting spaces.

UoD (Cherry): It is essentially one big community. You seem to know almost everyone through different means, which results in everyone feeling that they belong. It is certainly a positive culture.

UoN: We are consistently ranked highly for overall satisfaction in the national student survey, and we can promise an excellent student experience. Our school is based on the beautiful University Park campus, and we have a thriving student community. The School of Law is also home to five student-run societies that organise a wide range of activities.

What's the hardest thing about studying law?

NTU: We believe there is something for everyone in studying law; for every student that finds trusts the hardest and contract the easiest, there will be another student where the opposite is true. Some students find mooting hard, for others it’s their calling. What is important is for each student to experience the range and then find their niche in their chosen profession.

UoD (Cherry): The workload and the difficulty of the workloard. It is not a degree for the faint-hearted. It requires a particular mind if you want to achieve a high grade degree.

UoN: Both undergraduate and postgraduate study is intensive. Students are required to process a high volume of information in a short period of time and this involves a lot of hard work and dedication.

What's the most unusual area of law you teach?

NTU: One of the more unusual topics is the use of human remains in artworks, and the free speech implications thereof, as part of our human rights module.

UoD: Our coroners’ law module, which is not only taught by a coroner but is the only one at undergraduate level in the country.

UoN: Undergraduate modules cover specialist aspects of law such as international wildlife law, law and regulation of foreign investment, and maritime law.

Give us your best graduate stat

NTU: Some 95 per cent of our graduates who were available for employment secured employment or further study (2012/13 GEMS data).

UoD: Some 93 per cent of our graduates are in work or further study six months after graduation (LLB students responding to the national destination of leavers from higher education survey 2014).

UoN: For the academic year ending 2014, of the known destinations, 92 per cent of law undergraduates had secured employment or continued with their academic studies.

Do you have a strong relationship with neighbouring law firms?

NTU: Yes; 51 legal recruiters attended our annual regional law fair in January 2015, and 71 legal professionals are mentoring our law students, which has resulted in a number of students being selected for vacation schemes, training contracts, and relevant work experience.

UoD: Yes; we have built great relationships with our local firms for mentoring, placements, clinics, and shadowing. The closeness of our relationship is exemplified by the fact that the outgoing president of Derby and District Law Society is also a member of our staff.

UoN: We have excellent links with employers from the legal profession and elsewhere. Our careers initiatives include an annual recruitment fair, which attracts over 70 legal organisations and is one of the largest fairs of its kind in the country.

What is the one quality with which all of your law students leave?

NTU: A skills set that means they are work-ready and able to enter their chosen profession with confidence and flair.

UoD: Resilience.

UoN: The ability to learn and think independently. Students graduate with problem-solving and analytical skills which many did not possess when they started the programme.

What is the biggest challenge law students face nowadays?

NTU: Gaining practical experience is always a challenge. All our courses offer students opportunities to gain valuable legal experience either in this country or overseas, as well as embedding skills in the curriculum. Our Legal Advice Centre is crucial in offering the challenges and experiences that students need to gain these practical skills – as well as helping the local community.

UoD (Cherry): Having to develop a career from day one. Law students have little time to ease into their studies. It is unfortunately essential that they gather experience and networks as soon as possible to help them when they are a postgraduate.

UoN: We understand that funding their studies is often a challenge for students, which is why we offer scholarships for undergraduates and postgraduates.

What do your alumni say about your university?

NTU: Amerdeep Somal (LLB (Hons) Law, 1988), said: ‘Nottingham Trent Law School was an amazing springboard. Not only did it provide a fantastic academic education that led on to a diverse and enriching career, it also provided wonderful opportunities in drama and debating, which without a doubt stimulated the passions for human rights that have been a core part of my life ever since.’

UoD: Mark Hopwell, director and head of crime at Cartwright King, said: ‘I started with doubts and left with confidence. I think what I have achieved in my career since is a testament to the investment the law team at Derby put in me.’

UoN: ‘The staff are leaders in their fields and develop their courses according to their own and your interests, which makes for a very interesting and dynamic year!’

Can you 'name drop' anyone from your alumni?

NTU: Hazel Blears MP (BA (Hons) Law, 1977), Chukka Umunna MP (LPC, 2002), and Jonathan Smithers (BA (Hons) Law, 1983).

UoD: Sarah Russell – the youngest councillor in the UK and deputy leader of Derby City Council.

UoN: There are several well-known QCs, including the Honourable Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Dominic Nolan, as well as the BBC broadcaster and administrator Matthew Bannister.

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