For anyone torn between studying law and studying business Rory Clarke explains the benefits of studying the dual Business & Law degree in UCD

Every time I filled out the CAO form I put down different courses, in different orders. I was never one of those lucky few who ‘just knew’ what they wanted to be. For me the CAO form was a pain nearly as large as the Leaving Cert itself. I found myself crippled with the thought of what I would do with my life, even if I did manage to negotiate the Leaving Cert relatively successfully – would all that hard work be for nothing?

I had always been told I should do law – apparently I’ve argued for myself since the age of 3 – but I wasn’t sure I wanted the life of a solicitor. On the other hand, I loved business and accounting in school but wasn’t sure if I could stand out from the 1000s of Commerce degrees completed in Ireland each year. In the end, paralysed by indecision, I hedged my bets and chose Business and Law, ‘kicking the can down the road’ in terms of determining my future. At the time I felt like I had fudged this crucial decision. Looking back, I can only be grateful for it.

Benefits of Both

There are a couple of things I love about studying both Business and Law. First of all, 1st and 2nd year students have little to no choice in picking modules (AKA classes). While this may be perceived as a disadvantage to some, it suited me down to the ground. In fact, I was grateful that someone else, who was probably better qualified, chose my modules for me. This system gives you the chance to study things which you may not have imagined you would have liked, but are actually perfect for you.

For example, in first year we studied some core aspects of Irish law, including both Contract and Constitutional law, and much to my own surprise, I loved them both. I have little doubt that, if I had had to choose my own modules I would never have picked what turned out to be my favourite modules of the year.

Secondly, the contrasting nature of the two disciplines means that just when you are sick of one of them, your next lecture is in the other area. Sometimes, after studying law for a couple of days, when you have case names and abstract legal concepts spilling out your ears, there’s nothing you want more than the practical grounding offered by business via accounting, economics or data analysis. Studying both simultaneously means you’re never sick of one or the other.

A typical timetable for a 2nd year Business & Law student

Electives

One of the things that had concerned me when choosing Business and Law was that I wouldn’t be able to take any electives (choice modules from programmes outside of your degree). Personally, I loved French in school, so I was reluctant to give it up. However I soon found out that, particularly for languages, engaging in student societies is as good as, if not better than taking it as an elective (after all there’s no exam at the end of French society’s coffee mornings!)

Course Size

Business and Law is a relatively big course – my year has 113 students – which can be a little daunting to begin with, but everyone’s in the same boat. If you make an effort it shouldn’t be a problem to make friends. The cliché that the person you sit down beside on the first day will be your best friend even came true for me! Both schools have tutorials – which are smaller groups of 15-20 – so you get to know most people quite quickly. Our class also had a trip abroad to Edinburgh in 2nd semester last year and if anyone didn’t have friends going they certainly did coming back!

Our class trip to Edinburgh

Choosing Business and Law was the best thing I could have ever done. The CAO is a daunting proposition but my choice lessened my anxiety over it. By not putting all my eggs into one basket (or degree) I had a measure of comfort over the fact that even if I didn’t like one aspect of my degree there was always the other. However, if, as you progress through your degree, you realise you have a preference for one or the other you can tailor your modules to prioritise that.

It’s not all hard work!

Business and Law are two of the best disciplines offered in UCD, with unique and highly employable skills taught under both subjects. If you can’t choose between them, why not choose both of them? I can (nearly) guarantee that you won’t regret it.