UK Law School Advantage: How to Launch an Accessible, Affordable & Successful Legal Career | International Education for Lawyers

By John G. Kelly,B.Com., LL.B., M.Sc. (international relations) M.A. (Jud.Admin) F.CIS

John G. Kelly. The UK Law School Advantage. Proprietary (2020) Distribute with acknowledgement.

The UK Law School Advantage

The largest single source of law graduates in Canada is not a Canadian Law School, (it’s) the National Committee on Accreditation.

Learning abroad may have once been seen as an optional extravagance. It now needs to be recognized as a national imperative. Providing students with international experience is a smart investment in their future success – and Canada’s

The Canadian government has come to the realization that the future prosperity of the country is dependent on developing an incoming generation of professionals with the skills and knowledge management capability to be active participants in the global economy and international political arena.

“Global education generates the skills, understanding, outlooks and relationships that can help our country at a time of rapid change in the world and at home” .

The Go Global Education for Canadians Government of Canada sponsored “white paper” is laudable and a must read in noting that

“the Study Group’s conclusion is that Canada needs a more strategic and ambitious approach to global education ”

The Rhodes Model — Preferred International Education Route for Aspiring Lawyers & Professional Services Providers

The Rhodes Scholarship and Rhodes Scholars are world renowned. The program was established by mining magnate Cecil Rhodes to attract the best and brightest, primarily from within the British Commonwealth, to the UK. They would be exposed to leading edge international education at Oxford and network with peers from other countries. Canadian Rhodes Scholars would become conversant with cultures from all parts of the world, notably Africa and Asia, and engage in learning processes and informed dialogues with aspiring leaders in government, the professions and business in the international arena as well as attend global forums at the renowned Rhodes House adjacent to the campus .

Prominent Canadian Rhodes Scholars

  • Chrystia Freeland, current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rhodes Scholar,
  • John Turner, former Prime Minister, Rhodes Scholar
  • Bob Raye, former Premier of Ontario and prominent federal government ambassador, Rhodes Scholar,
  • Danny Williams, former Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador, Rhodes Scholar,
  • Rex Murphy, former CBC and national media personality, Rhodes Scholar

Leading edge global UK law schools have adhered to the Rhodes architecture and operational framework. In a name brand UK law school, aspiring lawyers and professionals encounter a cosmopolitan mix of law students.

You’ll interact, network and link with aspiring professionals who will be determining the future direction of countries from around the world.

What guidance counsellors, parents and students with aspirations about becoming a lawyer and/or multi-disciplinary professional services provider need to know about legal education

Definition of an Approved Canadian Law Degree

The Federation of Canadian Law Societies (FLCS) acts as the umbrella organization for all provincial law societies in establishing the criteria for an “Approved Canadian Law Degree” that a law graduate must obtain to be eligible to enrol in a provincial law society bar admission program.


The Federation will accept an LL.B. or J.D. degree from a Canadian law school as meeting the competency requirements if the law school offers an academic and professional legal education that will prepare the student for entry to a bar admission program and the law school meets the following criteria:

Academic Program

The law school’s academic program for the study of law consists of three full-time academic years or equivalent, which is 90 course credits.

The course of study consists primarily of in-person instruction and learning and/or instruction and learning that involves direct interaction between instructor and students.

Holders of the degree have met the competency requirements.

The academic program includes instruction in ethics and professionalism in a course dedicated to those subjects and addressing the required competencies.

Subject to special circumstances, the admission requirements for the law school include, at a minimum, successful completion of two years of post-secondary education at a recognized university or CEGEP.

That’s right

  • There is no requirement for a baccalaureate degree to be included in an approved Canadian law degree program.
  • An approved Canadian law degree consists of three years of legal education, or the equivalent, and two years of post-secondary university education.
  • An approved Canadian law degree is an undergraduate professional degree.

You will have to successfully complete 10 FLSC dictated mandatory law courses. The ten core courses are:

  • Contracts*
  • Torts*
  • Property*
  • Evidence*
  • Corporate Law (Business Associations) *
  • Professional Responsibility**
  • Principles of Canadian Administrative Law**
  • Canadian Constitutional Law (with Aboriginal/Charter component) **
  • Foundations of Canadian Law**
  • Canadian Criminal Law and Procedure**

*Five of the ten core common law subjects are generic and may be taken at a UK law school.

**The five law subjects are Canadian-content specific. They must be taken at a Canadian law school or be completed by writing NCA (see below) examinations

Canadian Law School Admissions Illustration

University of Toronto

JD Program Length, Entry Point and Delivery

The JD is the first level of professional law degree, with which subsequent graduate law degrees may be pursued, e.g. LLM, SJD. The JD program is designed as a three-year full-time program (in special circumstances an admitted full-time student may seek permission to complete the program as a half-time student). In-class attendance is required, since online, distance or dedicated weekend/evening program versions are not currently available. There is one entry point the degree program each year in August (first year) or September (upper year)

In order to qualify to be accepted into law school, most law schools in Canada require the completion of at least three years of your degree or a completed degree

University of Toronto Law School Admissions Briefing Note Synopsis

  • The JD degree is a “first level undergraduate” professional degree.
  • A student who’s completed three years of university undergraduate study is eligible for admission.
  • Applicants are required to write the controversial U.S. LSAT examination currently being challenged for systemic bias in the U.S. 10

Why do virtually all admissible students have baccalaureate degrees?

  • Canada has the lowest per capita ratio of law schools among the comparable common law countries of Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S. This creates an application crowding problem for students that enables Canadian law schools to restrict selection to baccalaureate degree holders.

The UK Law School Advantage


As is the case with the Canadian JD, the UK LLB degree is also a first level undergraduate professional degree. The UK has approximately twice as many law schools per capita as Canada. There is a sufficient number of law schools to accommodate all qualified applicants.

Canadian law schools lack any objective review or ranking system.

The UK has a rigorous law school ranking system 11. Applicants can select a law school that fits their academic and personal lifestyle preferences.

The High School Graduate UK Law School Advantage

All UK LLB degree programs admit high school graduates directly into three – year LLB degree programs on the basis of academic status.


The de facto time period to acquire a Canadian JD degree is seven years, comprised of a four- year baccalaureate degree and three years of legal education. The average estimated overall tuition of a four- year undergraduate baccalaureate degree is $50,000. Tuition at University of Toronto Law School (Canada’s premier law school) is $ CDN 30,000 per year, a total of $ CDN 90,000 over a three- year period.

The estimated combined cost of the de facto Canadian seven- year undergraduate BA/ JD is $CDN $140,000.

Tuition at top ranked “Russell Group ”12 (UK equivalent to U.S. Ivey League universities) university law schools is approximately $CDN 25,000 per year, a total of $CDN75,000 over a three- year period.

The estimated cost of the high school direct entry UK LLB degree is $75,000

The average estimated overall tuition of two years of post- secondary undergraduate university education required for an FLSC accredited law degree is $25,000. The two years of post- secondary university education can be taken at any time prior to an application for FLSC accreditation through distance learning, summer school programs.

The estimated combined cost of an FLSC approved LLB degree is $100,000

The UK Law degree affordability advantage is $40,000.

Summer Job Placements – Internships

A recent much acclaimed comprehensive Canadian study on “Redefining Work” has found that, for a significant number of aspiring professionals, the preferred professional career path for millennials encompasses the following attributes.

Feeling like your job is helping others and making a difference is fulfilling. This isn’t restricted to the “helping professions” in health care, social work, (law) or teaching. Workers in many sorts of customer or client service roles experience the satisfaction of “doing good” by helping people.

The Canadian non-profit and social enterprise sectors are looking to and linking with Social Enterprise UK , the acknowledged international leader in creating new and innovative models for community development. An abroad legal education will expose law students in a three- year LLB to a wide range of legal and law related professional careers.

Canadians with UK student visas are eligible to participate in part-time work and volunteer internships during the course of their studies and secure summer work placements.

Yes, you can offset the cost of your UK legal education by working part-time on weekends and holidays, just like Canada

For students who are committed to entering the practice of law the three- year LLB degree program delivers a combination of required course material on the fundamentals of law with courses that are equivalent to what Canadian law students take.

A perusal of Canadian law school texts will illustrate the extent to which Canadian common law courses are based on UK case law.

The Two Year Post- Secondary Education UK Law School Advantage

Completion of a three- year LLB degree entitles the student to enroll in a one -year graduate LLM program of study. This is a 12- month program. It is separate and distinct from the three- year LLB and the student may decide to obtain this specialized graduate professional degree at a different UK law school.

The NCA will count the LLM as equivalent to one year of post-secondary university education.

Estimated Cost of a combined Canadian JD +LLM

$140,000 + $30,000 = $170,000

Estimated Cost of a Combined UK LLB+LLM

&75,000 LLB + $15,000 (one yr. uni.) + $25,000 LLM = $115,000

The UK LLB +LLM affordability advantage is $55,000.

U.K. Law School Advantage for University Graduates

Two Year “Graduate Senior Status Accelerated LLB”

All of the core law courses in an FLSC approved Canadian law degree program are completed in two years.

Note the listing of the 10 core courses in an approved Canadian law degree. These can be completed in two years of study. The third year reflects the undergraduate status of the traditional Canadian law degree program and the historical tradition of following the U.S model in attempting to design a program to reflect study time lines associated with that of a “learned profession of gentlemen” , as opposed to just the core competencies associated with legal principles and their application .

Canadian law school students refer to this as the “dreaded dead third year”.

A number of U.K. law schools have taken the lead in giving university graduates credit for their undergraduate degrees.

  • Your undergraduate degree is demonstrable proof of your ability to conduct research and write reports. and offer “Two Year Graduate Senior Status Accelerated LL.B. degrees”.
  • You take all of the core law courses, but the liberal studies/research writing components are eliminated.
  • You obtain your law degree in two years instead of three years, a considerable time and cost saving.
  • Think of it like an executive MBA.

The UK Two Year Graduate Senior Status Accelerated LLB Degree Advantage

  1. You obtain a law degree in two years instead of three years.
  2. You save time and thousands of dollars in educational costs.
  3. You’ll be able to combine self-study for the NCA Accreditation “Challenge Examinations” (read the Accreditation section for details) with part-time work and actually start earning money while learning during that otherwise “dreaded dead third year”.
  4. You can leverage that third year into an innovative multi-disciplinary graduate LLM degree

Estimated Tuition Cost of a Canadian three-year JD Degree Program $90,000

Estimated Tuition Cost of a “Graduate Two Year Accelerated UK LLB Degree” Program $50,000

The UK Graduate Senior Status Accelerated LLB affordability advantage is $40,000.