Brogan Varney, a 2021/22 Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (DPLP) graduate from the University of Glasgow shares her insights on how she made her decision about where to study the Diploma, the format of her studies, highlights and tips and advice for future Diploma students.
Why did you choose to study your diploma at the University of Glasgow? (What drew you to that specific Diploma provider, what was important to you?)
I chose to study at the University of Glasgow because of recommendations from friends and preferring the way the course was delivered. I studied the LLB at Strathclyde and I didn’t really like the idea of the format of the diploma there.
If you decided to do the diploma at a different University from your LLB, what was the reason for this?
I had spent 4 years at Strathclyde and I wanted a bit of a change. I thoroughly enjoyed my time during my LLB but I wanted to experience the student life in the West End of Glasgow and learn about the history of Glasgow. One day I had some time between classes and I went on a walk around the campus. I had taken a photo in one of the courtyards and sent it to my papa as he studied at the University of Glasgow. He then sent me back a photo, nearly in exactly the same spot I had taken mine but over 20 years ago. I liked the history of the University and wanted to have a change for the last year of my studies.
What was the best thing/highlight about your diploma experience?
The friends I have made throughout the diploma. This 100% made the experience so much better. I found the diploma difficult and very stressful at times – coming out of COVID-19, adjusting to life again, changing jobs, traineeship searching and the workload all played a part in this. I felt like from Day 1 everyone was there to support each other and I couldn’t have done it without them.
Were there any negatives or improvements that could have been made to your diploma
I think the only thing I think could have improved it was a more thorough introduction on Intro week. However, I think this was as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which was unfortunate. It would have been nice to have the introductory classes on campus. Although I do know this was out of the control of the University and I can imagine it will be even better for diploma students this year.
Did you attend classes in person or virtually or a hybrid of both?
It was a hybrid of both which I thoroughly enjoyed. In my work I work hybrid and I think it helps hugely to boost morale and productivity so I was very glad to have a mixture of both.
Did your Diploma provider offer a work based-placement option or module or work experience?
No, they didn’t. However, the diploma team were great at notifying us of opportunities whether that was work experience/training contracts or administrative roles in the legal sector. As many of my fellow students will know it became increasingly stressful to apply for roles during the semester and the diploma team sending out email was a great help.
Did you work alongside studying the Diploma, if so, did you feel this was manageable?
(How many hours per week on average did you work?)
Yes, I have worked during all my studies. On average I worked around 20 hours per week which during the second semester I thought was maybe slightly too much. I do have good time management skills but the diploma is extremely different from the LLB and it did take a while to adjust to this while working also.
How do you feel that the University responded to the COVID-19/Omicron pandemic?
They responded very well in my opinion. We were updated frequently regarding their position and what would happen in the event we had to go back into another lockdown. The measures around the campus were great and as a result it was never a great concern of mine.
Do you feel that you are ready to go into practice as a trainee?
Yes I do feel ready. I think this is because of both my diploma experience and my part-time work within a firm.
Have you secured a traineeship? If not, are you seeking one or do you wish to take a different route or do something else? If so, what?
Yes I have secured a Litigation traineeship.
What are your top tips/advice for future Diploma students?
Get organised before you start your diploma! It gets full on very very quickly and I wish I had prepared just a little bit more before I had started.
If you feel overwhelmed or stressed about your workload or your studies in any way, speak to the diploma team. They are there to help and they are beyond accommodating.
Plan your studies early. At the beginning of each semester I would write in all my classes, written and oral assessments and anything else I had to prepare for the full duration of the semester. I know we have all been up too late studying for something on the LLB and getting a fairly decent mark on it – this isn’t the case on the diploma.
Do you feel like the Diploma is affordable and accessible for all and fairly/social mobile?
No I don’t think so. It’s unfair that the diploma is only partly funded, first of all. I know many students who didn’t know this until a few years into their LLB. You cannot become practice as a solicitor in Scotland without the Diploma so that in itself is a barrier. I understand there are ways to lessen the cost of diploma by choosing to study at a lower-cost University. However, these may require you to relocate or commute further.
I hope that you find this post useful and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.
First Year Trainee Solicitor at Alston Law
2021/22 DPLP Graduate - Glasgow University
The Scottish Lawyer has created a FREE template especially geared towards assisting you with making your decision on where to study the Diploma and tracking your application progress - click here to access it via our website and download your own template now.
You can find more information about studying the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice on the Law Society of Scotland's website.
Views expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of The Scottish Lawyer.