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
You didn’t bore me at all; I enjoyed reading your post. Hearing from someone, who’s based in the oil industry within the sphere of the civil law system, speak about the fact that “…8 out of 10 serious contracts in the industry…are governed by the laws of England”, makes me glad that I chose the UoL route. Clearly there are opportunities for those who hold a LLB and this is evidenced by the fact that you saw the need to embark upon this program; notwithstanding that you’re already a lawyer in your jurisdiction.
It was also somewhat comforting to know on some level that even people such as yourself, who have previous degrees and experience in law (in one form or another), find this program challenging as well. As a younger student (21), it can at times, feel intimidating studying alongside older and more experienced students.
Good luck in your studies!
Konstantine, thank you for the reality check. I myself am studying on my own and have put off the exams for various reasons primarily centering on insufficient dedicated study time. I totally agree that the weekend study does not work and that it is absolutely imperative to set aside time daily to give oneself the best chance for success. I have completed post graduate study and misjudged or perhaps underestimated the focus and dedication needed for the best outcomes in the quest for LLB certification. This year I have 3 courses - Land, Trust and Contract - and I am on board with you to ensure there is balance with all my other committments while preparing to take the upcoming exams.
konstantine, i enjoyed reading your post it was very refreshing and enlighten. I myself have challenges studying, however i have made every effort to sit my exam 2013 and be fully prepared. I also realize that it is essential to manage you time and to study during the week days as the weekends run by so quickly.. I am elated that im apart of the University of London team as such i’m happy to hear that you have decided to pursue this path considering your already a lawyer…. Best of luck everyone in sitting 2013 exams…
Your comment and experience being share with us did not bore me at all rather I found it interesting to hear from a lawyer like you. It gives me hope that I can make it. Though I am not a lawyer but I believe in myself that I can do it. Above all I am glad I am part of this great institute studying Law. I wish everyone sitting for this may exam a success.
Thank you so much for your feedback. Give me some time to provide better responses, i am a bit unable to do it now but i promise i do.
I was happy to read your post and realize that someone else has faced the same challenges as I now do. I have actually put off sitting exams 3 years in a row - the first time because I had just changed to a new job, moved to a new town - and really didn’t have enough head room for study. The other two years, I was just plain unprepared. I am trying really hard to be ready for this year….Still not sure. But by reading your post I feel like I can. I have come to realize - like you said. A few hours each day beats 5 hrs on the weekend. And time management is key. I am a teacher by profession so I bring a lot of work home with me. I now have to watch the clock constantly, just to make sure I use all my time wisely. I have also made a habit of taking a book along with me whenever I leave home. Trying to squeeze in some extra reading where I can…Thank you Konstantin. I guess we can do this together….
REALLY ENJOYED READING YOUR POST.
you can surely do it!
to Jonathan Celestin
Well, the last thing i want to do by sharing my experiences is to intimidate someone.
I will be 33 soon and really it is not so cool in terms of further career advances from LLB point of you - i just do not have time to qualify for LPC & articles so it means i will never be admitted to the Bar or Solicitors’ Roll in UK.
You have time, this is a crucial and extremely valuable resource, so just keep clam and carry on.
P.S. And if you look into the area of corporate/company law - 99 out of 100 serious deals will be subject to the laws of England. Even between Russian parties only.
Of course the companies will be based somewhere in Cyprus but this is the grim reality of today’s life.
To all other guys
I am really impressed with your comments, folks. They are very good, thoughtful, if you know what i mean.
It feels like some real conversation with real issues and not just usual facebook style “oh, cool” information exchange with zero data in words.
Thank you. I feel like i am not alone in this mysterious land of English law and the desert of self-study. Very nice to feel the support. I guess your words give me hope.
It was refreshing and inspiring to have read your post. I am in a similar position- I relocated to a different country because of my work demands and with more tasks at my desk, it has proven extremely difficult to put in quality study time. I am on the LLB graduate entry and I am preparing to sit exams this year. Thanks for your post. A little does go a long way when we read in small batches daily as opposed to marathon sessions.
What also concerned me was the fact that I was paying fore continuing registration without being able to sit the exams, felt like I was really throwing money out the window.
I am starting to worry now that my exams are in May ! Thanks for the inspiration Konstantin!
I will be completing the degree this year, I hope. The workload and difficulties are way beyond what I had expected when I started the programme a few years ago. But when I do get the degree, I will be proud of it - because it is difficult!
It can be done. Just need to put in the hours. Work hard and best wishes to you Konstantin.
konstantine, Your experience is inspiring with good insight for balancing work and study time management. It was very intersting and a practical aspect of life which almost everyone of us are challenged with. Thanks you and wish you all the best in your efforts.
Konstantine your experience is indeed insightful. This gives me the courage to go through the various hurdles at this time. It is true a little each day makes a big difference than only doing it on the weekends. All the best in your endeavors
Wow! I was just saying to a friend how discourged I was. I hardly find time to study. I have a hectic job and a 5 mth old baby. I’m presently in my 3rd yr and it’s my 5th year of study. It’s been a long road, but I feel encourged to continue now that i see other students experiencing similar challenges and there’s a way to overcome it. I will definately start studying a little everyday, it should really help. I hope I’ll be fully prepared for exams this time around. Thank you Konstantin for your post. I enjoyed the other comments as well. They came at the right time :)
Konstantine every little brings about much! I’ve completed the LLB and have started the LLM in International Trade Law…I find that reading even just ONE page per night (as this is what I can do sometimes as I am sooo tired after work) by Saturday I would have covered FIVE pages and after resting I can do even 15 more pages. Keep on keeping at it, at the end when you get your LLB from UOL you will feel and know that it was well worth it!
Thank you for sharing your story with us! True stury - it is very challenging to switch your brains from Russian-style academia to something that different. I am a full-time Russian lawyer myself and I totaly understand all the challenges you are facing. By the way, I chose the UOL LLB for exactly the same reason as you did. It is so comforting to find out there are other people out there, sharing these ideas, thank you.
Wish you good luck with your exams! Everybody, all the best to you in May or whenever you are sitting!
I don’t usually read the student blogs however upon reading your heading, I had to laugh to myself because I can empathize completely with what you are experiencing. Life’s challenges and distractions can throw you off course but I am determined to achieve my goal - earning my LLB will be one of the greatest life battles conquered. May 2013 will be my final attempt at Mr. Tort, that pest of a subject - I passed it my first time around but under the old regulations you have to resit all your subject you fail one below 30 (those rules regulations are unfair and unjust, to say the least). I am now getting the assistance of a practitioner and am confident that I will overcome - YES! I am feeling better knowing that there are others sharing my experiences. GOOD LUCK to everyone in your upcoming exams, Thank you for sharing your story.
i’m Albert, a Ghanaian and also studying with the UOL. there’s something we should all understand. nothing good comes easy. reading was one of things i will never do if you told me to. but that had to change when i realized my love for law by working with a lawyer as a law clerk. now, because i want it, i read everyday after work as a clerk. i sometimes even sleep holding my book. but i’m passing through all this because i want it. it will not be like this forever. it will soon be over. so folks, pass through it if u really want it. THANKS
Put off my exams…again! Now I realize am not the only one dilly dallying. Will put a stop to it and definitely sit my exams in 2014,
Konstantine: It is nice to know I am not the only one experiencing this problem. I did not write the first year as I felt that I was not prepared enough given the fact that I was teaching full-time, married, running a home, and raising a child. Now that I am working part-time, I am in a better position to devote more time to studies and hope to finish my third and final year in 2014.
Having to prepare for UOL exams is a daunting task most especially if you’re trying to make money at the same time. I have learn to just let go of every other thing and concentrate on my exams once it’s two months to go. This is a worthwhile investment though. Value well added
I would say that your post is great!
I like it very much. and I feel almost the same on my way to LLM (UoL)
wish you good luck
I’m Vishnee from Mauritius. Well, I work in the tourism & hospitality industry which never sleeps and so do I. My study time is very limited and I work 12hrs daily and it’s very demanding. When I reach home, I’m so tired that I can hardly concentrate in anything. Yet I try to. I’m giving all the energy which remains to my studies. I hope that my hardwork will help me achieve my dream but first pass the exams….Wish you all good luck for exams..
I am so grateful that you shared your experience here!
This year is my 4th year in this LLB programme and I am only preparing the re-sit for courses of 2nd year(I am under Scheme B)…So horrilbe…I was thinking of giving up when received the transcript, as I am pregnant and my delivery is just 2 weeks before the re-sit…God help me! But I think I still need to struggle to stick my feet on it…it’s no sense given up half-way…thinking about all the registration and exam fee!!! I gave up twice on my exam as I have been travelling and working which studying on your own is so difficult!
The biggest lesson I learnt is knowing the regulation is crucial!! As I was too careless that I missed the chance to transfer to graduate entry route and the new regulations….you cant transfer to either of them after you take the 1st year exam….T_T
Anyway, wish me and everyone good luck in the coming years!
i am a bit like you i am still in my second year after year of resit and postponing… at time i feel like quiting but i love law.. i only have to learn to organised myself…
I really enjoyed reading your post Konstantin, and I would love to read more. I am planning to start LLB this year to re-qualify from my teaching job. I have always been interested in the Law, but it my country (Poland), where education is still very much free, you need anything between 99-100 per cent of your end of school exams to secure a place. I got 96 and the door closed for me forever (when I was at school we were not allowed to retake our exams if we passed them). So I decided to study languages and the rules and laws by which they are governed and here I am, working as a teacher of English, in a London school. The fascination with the Law is still there, and its time to stop putting it off and try. It is going to be hard, but as Albert said in one of the posts above, good things don’t come easy. I wish you all the best with your exams and your LLB in general :)