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Website review

16 August 10

Websites of the "big 5" law schools in Scotland

by Iain Nisbet

University of Strathclyde, The Law School

www.law.strath.ac.uk

I studied at Strathclyde, so I was especially disappointed that the website seems to have declined in quality since I last reviewed it.

At first sight, it’s bright and well laid out, though links appearing on both the left and right hand sides did mean I missed some. Beyond the basics about courses and staff, and some interesting information about research policies, there is little else to get your teeth into.

However, it is the only one of the five to have an “ethos”, or at least to boast publicly about it, and it also has a section giving bios of four alumni. I liked this feature, but all four were high fliers and the section would benefit from some more ordinary but successful lawyers, too.

Some lesser difficulties include the text size being on the small side, especially the “Print this page”. Also, the number of Law School Bulletin back issues offered varies depending on which page you are reading.

Dundee Law School

www.dundee.ac.uk/law

Dundee Law School’s site is certainly the most visually attractive of the five, and obeys the cardinal rule of telling people who you are and what you’re about before they get bored.

As everyone knows, Dundee’s unique selling point is that you can study Scots and English law there and, sure enough, that is the second sentence on the first page, front and centre. Well done.

Like Strathclyde, Dundee has a Law School Bulletin, the most recent again being from the end of 2009.

Highlights of the site include personal testimonials from recent students who have taken up the offer implicit in the link “Study Abroad”, and also the Amazon Book Store. From the law library pages, you can access a specially created law school mini-store via the online retailer. You can purchase all the books on your list, just by clicking on the class title. Simple but very effective.

University of Glasgow, The School of Law

www.gla.ac.uk/departments/schooloflaw

Glasgow has also learned how to lead with your front foot, and the first information to come your way is that it “is one of Scotland's oldest and largest law schools”. However, in trying to cram so much else on to the front page, the section left for that announcement is rather narrow (at least on my browser).

Beyond the front page, for all its busyness, there is not a great deal to get excited about. Where the site does excel, however, is in information and resources for prospective students, including an exhaustive FAQ section and very detailed information on the application process, downloadable forms, links to funding information.

University of Aberdeen Law School

www.abdn.ac.uk/law

Aberdeen Law School’s homepage looks a bit like its CV, consisting of a list of accomplishments and areas of interest.

The navigation in the site feels a bit jumpy, but isn’t so confusing once you get the hang of it.

There is some very good material available, but you have to go looking for it. For example, in the research pages, if you scroll down the pages relating to a particular area, you often find a number of links to the relevant academic papers, which can be hard to get hold of if you’re not a student or academic.

Similarly, my personal favourite is hidden under “current students”: within the pages of the mooting society is a handbook “A Guide to Mooting”, complete with foreword from Lord Mackay of Clashfern – well worth a read, with many useful tips for aspiring court practitioners, too.

University of Edinburgh, School of Law

www.law.ed.ac.uk

Easily the best of the five websites. I like the virtual tour of the law school a lot. I also liked the idea of the various online communities (e.g. the mature law students’ society), while the publications page was like an online library in itself.

The whole thing is well put together and manages to offer a huge amount of information without making the user feel swamped.

The real highlight is the Law School’s many blawgs. You may already know Hector MacQueen’s inimitable Scots Law News, but also well worth a look are European Private Law News and the outstanding TechnoLlama technology law blog.

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