1) Emma Gardner is managing to juggle a demanding full-time job with her law studies. The 26-
year- old marine engineer is studying for a graduate diploma in law in her spare time through
distance learning. She started the two-year course last September with the Surrey-based
College of Law, the largest provider of vocational legal education and training in Europe.
Emma believes that the qualification will not only help her enrich her job with the Ministry
of Defense at Abbey Wood in Bristol, but it will also keep her options open if she decides to
change her career and go into criminal law.
2) The graduate diploma in law is effectively a conversion course for students who do not have
law degrees. It provides the first stage in training to become a solicitor or a barrister.
Students are expected to do around 20 hours personal studying a week. They undertake
study weekends in Birmingham, which comprise nine-and-a-half days of face- to-face tuition
in the first year.
3) Emma who has a master in mechanical engineering from Exeter University, admitted that it
was tough studying on top of work. But she is determined to finish the course, adding: "It is
something I have always wanted to do. When I was at school, I really liked doing science and
maths, so I was a bit torn. But I could become a lawyer by doing a non-legal degree and then
converting later. The course is very useful for my current job. There are many areas where
the two overlap. It is useful in that respect even if I don't decide to take it further. I haven't
absolutely made up my mind about the future. It might be that I really enjoy criminal law and
want to pursue a completely different career path, but I don't know yet.
4) Emma tries to set aside time, two or three weeks, to work on her legal studies. "It is quite
demanding. You have to come in from work and get straight on with it. If you come in, have
tea or watch TV, you will never do it", she said. "But I'm enjoying what I'm doing and my
husband, Dan, is understanding and helpful". Jayne Jeffcott, who is in charge of the distance
learning graduate diploma in law at the college, said that the typical student, like Emma, has
already gone through a traditional educational route. She said: "they have their degree and
often have successful careers but have always hankered to be a lawyer. It is not easy.
Determination is the biggest thing you need."
5) Many colleges and universities offer distance learning programmes including language
courses, undergraduate, and post- graduate degrees. Students may be taking an Open
University Degree for a possible career change or simply because they want to take their
studying further. But whatever the reason driving them to undergo distance learning,
students all share the determination to stay the course.
To juggle: to do many things at the same time.
Barrister: a lawyer who is qualified to speak in the higher court.
Solicitor: a person whose job is to...