Hello, everyone. This is my first post here so let me introduce myself. My name is Konstantin and I am currently an LLB student with the University of London International Programmes.
I have a degree in law already but it is from a different jurisdiction based on the civil law tradition, namely its Russian species.
The key distinction, as you may know, between the common law and civil law approaches is that the civil law countries use the system of the codified statutes, i.e. the so-called “Codes” as the foundations of their law.
So if a Russian (or French, German, Spanish, Norwegian to name a few) lawyer faces, for instance, a contract law issue, he normally refers to the Civil Code first to try and find the answer there and if nothing is found he may search for the cases decided by the higher courts (normally this will be the level similar to that of the Court of Appeal and higher) in order to get some guidelines on the issue but still the cases are not precedents and he cannot rely on them as “the good law” to prove his point.
I earn my living by actually working as a lawyer (in-house) for the Russian oil company on one of the largest international projects in oil industry. Since the project itself is out of Russia and involves a lot of key industry players in areas like drilling, construction and engineering it means that most of the contracts which are generated to support the project are not under the Russian law.
A whole number of various reasons make Russian businessmen choose the law of England for their transactions with western partners and even between themselves.
These reasons are mostly of the negative nature and include but unfortunately not limited to instability of Russian law (a new revision of the Civil Code will come in force this March), serious risks of corruption and political bias of Russian officials and courts (refer to deliberations by Mrs. Justice Gloster on the concept of krysha in a notorious case of Berezovksy v. Abramovich  EWHC 2463 (Comm) at 51-56), rigidity of the Civil Code requirements to the contracts, etc.
The result of these various problems is that 8 out of 10 serious contracts in the industry (even inside Russia) are governed by the laws of England and are subject to the courts of England or courts of arbitration in London or Stockholm because the Russian businessmen, however questioned the reputation of some of them may actually be, in the end of the day prefer the rule of law to the rule of the phone call.
Hence, in order to understand better the mechanics of the common law I decided to become trained in common law. Considering the issue of cost, convenience of study (no requirement to sit in one place for the entire duration of the course) and reputation I chose UOL. My choice of the program may seem a bit strange because normally people who are already trained as lawyers pursue LLM but my concern was the quality of knowledge one gets from such courses because I strongly doubt I could digest so much information on common law in a 1-year LLM course, even taken full time. So, this is why I am with UOL.
The way to the knowledge turned out pretty bumpy, though. I have already spent 2 years in my LLB program but I am still on year one because I had to skip the exams due to poor planning of my study efforts. I used to study on my own, it is not a big deal but Russian system of studying is different. For instance as a first year student of law in an average Russian university one would cover about 12 to 16 various disciplines but the depth of coverage will be not as extensive as is practiced in UOL.
This was my key mistake, I was under the wrong impression that to cover 4 subjects in 12 months would be easy, I did not allocate enough hours for reading and successfully failed to include into equation that I have other serious commitments, like a minimum of 8 hours in the office 5 days a week and when in spring of 2012 the exams time came I realized that I just could not make it.
By the time of examination my contract law readings were done about 25%, CLRI was 100%, constitutional law was about 10% and criminal law was just a plain 0.
I had to reconsider my routine and now I am trying to read almost every day, even a bit, still, I realized that a couple of small steps every ten days carries me forward further than 5 hours with books over weekends.
So, this year I plan to sit the exams and what is more important to be ready for them.
Hope you were not bored reading this and found some information useful!
Konstantin is studying the LLB by distance learning