Number of places: 120 FT
Fees (2014/15): £13,800
Awards: Four £3,000 scholarships, plus a progression discount for former Nottingham University students
This course has a reputation for getting a sizeable proportion of its students pupillages – a sizeable proportion by super-competitive BPTC standards, that is. With about four times as many applications as places, getting a place on it doesn't come easily. Principal Ian Fox tells us recruiters look for not only stellar academics but “a genuine commitment to the profession. We ask for three weeks of legal work experience – these could be mini pupillages, law firm vacation schemes or marshalling with a judge – plus evidence of contested advocacy over and above what's required on the GDL or LLB.”
Applicants who make the cut join a smallish programme taught from Monday to Thursday, with Fridays left free for prep. There are 10 to 12 hours of contact time a week, which is slightly lower than other providers – students are expected to cover much of the factual side of the course during independent study. They attend advocacy and oral skill classes in groups of six, and seminars in groups of 12. These are largely focused on skills like opinion writing and drafting statements of case. There are also one or two lectures a week.
The low cost of living is Nottingham is often a draw for students here, as is the city's accessibility. As the law school's website proudly boasts, 89% of England and Wales' population resides within two hours' drive of Nottingham, so the location often proves handy for commuters or those attending pupillage interviews out of town.
The law school is based in Nottingham Trent's City campus, in the historic heart of Britain's most haunted city. Although Nottingham has buildings that date back to the 1100s, the law school is up to date, with newly built mock courtrooms, a nearby law library, and ample intranet and tech facilities. The school recently started offering iPads to all students.
In other developments, the school has just opened a new legal advice centre with specially built facilities. Students can train here to become Free Representation Unit (FRU) representatives, or take part in programmes like The Innocence Project or ones that work to rehabilitate prisoners. Further CV-boosting opportunities are available in the form of mooting competitions sponsored by nearby barristers' sets.
The careers service offers assistance with pupillage applications and interview preparation, and there's a mentoring scheme that offers places to all applicants. The school has close relationships with local sets and often arranges for judges and barristers to participate in open days or visit the campus to deliver talks.
Fox estimates that around 30% of students will have scored a pupillage by the January after graduation – a reasonably healthy proportion for a profession with a notoriously fraught path to entry.
Nottingham gave rise to the legend of Robin Hood, but you won't need to raid the sheriff's coffers to get a place on this top-flight course.
Nottingham Law School
Centre for Legal Research (CLR),