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Students of Law and Medicine in the UK
Law School: Where Are You Planning to Practice?
Before you become a law student in the UK, it is essential to know that the country’s legal system mostly differs from that in lots of other European countries. Jurisprudence in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales is based on Anglo-Saxon common law. On the other hand, parts of Scotland’s legal system, as well as the entire law of many states in continental Europe, derive from Roman civil law.
This diverging development of legal history can influence the number of countries where you are allowed to practice as a lawyer with a qualifying degree from a British university.
England and Wales
If you obtain such a law degree in England, Northern Ireland, or Wales, you will be awarded the title of LL.B. Afterwards you have to decide whether you would like to become a barrister or a solicitor, the two branches of the legal profession in these parts of the UK.
To train as a solicitor, you have to join the Law Society of England and Wales and attend a one-year Legal Practice Course. Then you enter into a two-year training contract with a law firm. As a future barrister, however, you need to join one of the four Inns of Court in London. Moreover, you must take the Bar Vocational Course and then go through another year of professional training called “pupillage”.
In Scotland, all prospective lawyers have to get an LLB first, followed by a Diploma in Legal Practice, as offered by six Scottish universities. Then you have to choose between preparing for a career as a solicitor (not quite identical with the rest of the UK) and training to be an advocate. All Scottish solicitors-to-be have to join a law firm for a traineeship of generally two years. Advocates, though, undergo 21 months of on-the-job training with a solicitor and a further nine months of “devilling” with an experienced advocate.
Confused yet? It gets even better. Scottish lawyers can practice law in the EU, but they may occasionally need further qualifications to work as lawyers in other parts of the UK.
Med School: A Long Ride
As mentioned before, medical students in the UK are neither required nor expected to have a bachelor’s degree in another subject – though some of them do. If they are accepted by one of the 34 medical schools in the UK, they can simply start their studies and training there. The exact nature of the degree program varies from university to university, but it usually takes five to six years.
The curriculum includes purely theoretical, pre-clinical classes and some form of clinical training at a teaching hospital. After graduating from med school, doctors in the UK have to go through another two years of Foundation Training at a clinic. They perform their tasks under supervision, and they are only allowed to fully register with the General Medical Council after completing the first year.
Once they have passed the Foundation stage, junior doctors will keep on training for three to eight years until they are officially recognized as senior doctors who become general practitioners or medical specialists in their own right.
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