Every aspect of our society is governed by law and accordingly there are all kinds of lawyers.
Whatever your interests, there will be an area of law governing it and legal professionals practicing it.
If you feel passionately about human rights or international politics, a career in public or European law may await you. If you find yourself attracted to business and commerce, you might find a perfect home in one of the big City firms. If you find yourself waiting with bated breath for the new edition of ‘Heat’ to fall through your letterbox, Defamation and Media Law could be the area for you.
The rewards of a career in law are as varied as the different areas of practice. Corporate law in a large firm will bring with it a secure and hefty salary. Criminal law may provide the satisfaction of preserving an innocent person’s liberty or ensuring that the guilty are brought to account.
Many lawyers would say that the main attraction of working in the law is the intellectual challenge it presents.The law is evolving all the time. Textbooks are changed and revised constantly, as new concepts come to light and new rights are recognised. This means that lawyers in all fields are always innovating and adapting to new circumstances. If you want a career that will keep your mind engaged, law could be the best choice.
Applying to study Law at university
The most common route into the legal profession is studying law at university. It is one of the most popular degree courses and is offered at over 300 HE institutions across the country. Most universities will look for candidates who have three A-Levels (or equivalent) in subjects such as English and History, as well as a flare for the subject. You can demonstrate this through wider reading, extra-curricular activities and work experience and they are great things to include in your personal statement and CV. We have plenty of example law personal statements for you to browse through, so be sure to have a look before you start. Some universities will require their candidates to take an aptitude test called LNAT. It is a good idea to research the universities which require students to take the LNAT and what the test entails.
Career tasters are a great way to find out more about any industry, especially law. Several of our partner law firms offer career open days where you can find out exactly what you need to jump-start your law career.
Studying Law at university
There are so many legal work opportunities for buddying lawyers whilst studying at university. Most opportunities are for students in their penultimate year of study and they are a great for developing skills and working on projects which will give you plenty to talk about in an interview. Internship programmes run for approximately 6-8 weeks over the Easter and summer holidays and students are often given the opportunity to attend client meetings, carry out research in preparation for meetings and cases, whilst shadowing a lawyer. Internship programmes are very competitive and firms are looking for enthusiastic and committed candidates who can demonstrate their commitment to the industry. Although it is important to get work experience, internships aren’t the only way. Shadowing a lawyer and working as a legal clerk are just a few other ways you can gain that valuable legal work experience.
Legal Practice Course (LPC)
The LPC covers the movement from being a graduate to becoming a lawyer-in-training. It can be studied full-time and completed within a year, or it can be split over two years and done part-time. The course consists of several compulsory and optional subjects and helps students to determine which type of law they prefer. The LPC also includes practical skills such as interviewing techniques, communication skills and negotiations. The course is taught at several institutions and it is important to carry out the same level of research for when you were selecting your universities during the sixth form.
Not studied law at university?
Not to worry! There are so many students who do not study law at university but who go on to become successful lawyers. The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) allows non-law graduates the chance to enter the legal profession and work as a solicitor or barrister. The one-year course is very intensive and ultimately condenses a three year undergraduate law degree into one! Sounds tough, but institutions offer a great deal of support and guidance so you are in safe hands. There are several institutions that offer the GDL and again, we recommend students to carry out extensive research into the various institutions as they all offer a slightly different course.
A training contract is the final step for many lawyers on their career path to becoming a solicitor. Contracts last two years and involve a mixture of class-based learning and practical experience which are run by the law firms themselves. There is a lot to think about when applying for a training contract and much of this is dependent on personal preference. For example, would you like to work in a small firm, what type of law firm would you prefer (city law firms, in-house law departments, government, international) and area of practice (tax, criminal, commercial). Carrying out research is really important to help you ascertain what type of firms to apply to. Speaking to people who have secured a training contract at the firm you are thinking of applying to is another useful thing to do. Another excellent way to find out about a firm’s training contract is experience! Summer internships and vacation programmes are great ways to get first-hand experience of working within a firm and you will learn plenty of useful information about their training contracts. Like internships, training contracts are very competitive, but doing work experience, studying hard and having passion for the industry are just a few things you can do to boost your chances of securing your training contract.
Thinking of a career at The Bar?
We have an increasing number of students who are interested in becoming a barrister. For more information on a career as a barrister and the qualification required visit the Bar Council website.
To offer you a greater insight into careers in the legal profession, we suggest having a look at Career Player’s video below. CareerPlayer.com is a multi-award winning website designed to make choosing and breaking into graduate jobs easier.