There are many options for those looking for a career within law
If you’re studying for a career in law, being a solicitor isn’t the only career option available to you, even if you decide not to continue to full qualification or want to move into a field outside of the legal profession.
The employment law team at Barlow Robbins also recognise the high level of competitiveness encountered by applicants, so they have helped to create a list of pathways which can allow them to progress on their career journey.
Let’s first take a look at what roles are available if you want to stay within the profession…
Alternative careers in the legal profession
The job of a barrister is to put legal arguments to judges, magistrates and juries and to cross-examine witnesses to influence the outcome of a court case. Barristers are legal advisers and advocates of the courtroom – a position that can otherwise only be held by qualified solicitors – and usually don’t have any direct interaction with the public but will appear in court when directed to do so by a solicitor.
If you have a distinguished career as a barrister or solicitor, the Judicial Appointments Commission may select you for the judicial office.
The job of a legal secretary is, as you’d imagine, to provide clerical and secretarial support to the courts, barristers and solicitors by helping to prepare documents such as divorce petitions, wills and witness statements. This is a specialist position due to the complex nature of legal documents and their composition.
A paralegal is basically someone who assists a barrister or lawyer in their work, and while they undertake some of the same work that lawyers do, they don’t give advice on legal services.
Paralegal duties will vary between law firms, but general tasks will include attending client meetings, researching and drafting documents, preparing case reports and helping to write contracts, mortgages and tax returns.
If it’s a temporary role you’re after, the Law Commission annually recruits a group of researchers to reform projects and work on legal reviews. Contracts usually last 12 months and can offer invaluable experience.
Many law graduates take on the role of court ushers, escorting judges to and from court as well as preparing and closing courtrooms. Other duties include taking the names of legal representatives, handing round exhibits, administering oaths and helping to maintain courtroom order.
So what’s available if you fancy a career outside of the law?
Careers outside of the legal professions
If you’re looking to apply your legal knowledge in the private sector, a position as company secretary will offer responsibilities such as developing and putting into practice all areas of company regulation, legislation and best practice, and ensuring the good governance of your business.
The City of London is an attractive proposition to many law graduates as financial institutions and accountancy firms are always in need of employees with legal expertise.
Studying for the legal profession can give you a great grounding for a career in politics or the civil service. If politics appeals you could get a job in research or policy for all sorts of governmental and non-governmental organisations, while the civil service fast stream offers a fast-track route for graduates into various governmental departments.
There are many opportunities open to law graduates and this is one way to stay within the legal profession without restricting yourself to the courts.
If you don’t fancy a career in the legal profession you could always pass on your knowledge to those who do by teaching law at all levels from GCSE to degree and beyond.
Do any of these options appeal to you? If you’re a prospective law student or are currently studying, let us know what career you have in mind in the comments below.