A law degree is a gateway to a career as a solicitor or barrister, but it's not the only path you can choose. Many options are available to you beyond the legal profession
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Barrister's clerk
- Chartered legal executive (England and Wales)
- Company secretary
- Costs lawyer
- Licensed conveyancer
- Solicitor, Scotland
- Trade mark attorney
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Advice worker
- Border Force officer
- Civil Service administrator
- Human resources officer
- Insurance underwriter
- Local government officer
- Patent attorney
- Political risk analyst
- Tax adviser
- Town planner
- Trading standards officer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Relevant work experience demonstrates to employers that you have the skills that they are looking for.
If you'd like to get some work experience that is directly related to the legal profession, you could do a mini-pupillage. This involves work shadowing that typically lasts between one to five days in a set of chambers. Details of this can be found at the Chambers Student mini-pupillage listings. You can also search in solicitor's firms for law vacation placements.
You could try marshalling - shadowing a judge, usually for anything between one day and one week - or pro-bono work, through organisations such as the:
Joining your university law society or volunteering in a student law clinic will also be helpful, as well as anything else that gives you an insight into legal practices and the workings of the law.
If you'd like to consider something outside of the legal profession then work experience in property development, the banking and financial sector, or HR departments in businesses can be useful. Taking on positions of responsibility through student groups provides good experience.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Your employer will depend on the route you take after your law degree. If you qualify as a solicitor, you can work in a number of different legal practices, including:
- high street solicitors' practices – typically offering the widest caseloads covering criminal, family, probate and business law
- local and national government
- large organisations with in-house legal teams.
Take a look at the top UK law firms.
If you become a barrister, it's likely you'll be self-employed and will be a tenant in a set of chambers. Alternatively, you could look for employment with organisations such as the:
- Government Legal Service
- Armed Forces legal services
- Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Find out more about the reality of working in law.
Outside of the legal profession employers can include banks, insurance companies, HR departments of large firms, local government or advice centres.
Skills for your CV
A law degree covers the foundation subjects that are required for entry into the legal professions. But the understanding of legal implications and obligations, combined with the ability to apply this knowledge in practice, is valuable in many parts of the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The range of skills that a law degree provides includes:
- research skills using a range of sources, including verbal questioning
- evaluation skills and the ability to interpret and explain complex information clearly
- analytical skills
- reasoning and critical judgement skills
- the ability to formulate sound arguments
- lateral thinking and problem-solving skills
- the ability to write concisely
- confident and persuasive oral communication skills
- attention to detail and the ability to draft formal documents with precision.
Discover the 7 skills you need for a successful law career.
A law degree provides you with academic knowledge but if you intend to practise law after graduation you must complete some vocational training to be able to apply your skills in practice.
To become a solicitor in England and Wales you have to complete the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) whereas if your aim is to work as a barrister in England and Wales, you need to undertake a Bar course, followed by a one-year training period called a pupillage. Variations in training routes exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland for both roles.
Although not an essential element in qualifying as a solicitor or barrister, you might also want to consider a Masters in law, otherwise known as an LLM. These postgraduate qualifications allow you to study a particular area of law in more depth.
Many professional qualifications are available in other areas such as accountancy, HR, marketing and business. To find a course that follows on from your law degree, search postgraduate courses in law.
What do law graduates do?
Two fifths (40%) of law graduates are working as legal professionals (33%) or legal associate professionals (7%).
|Working and studying
|Type of work
|Legal, social and welfare
|Clerical, secretarial and administrative
|Business, HR and finance
|Retail, catering and customer service
For a detailed breakdown of what law graduates are doing after graduation, see What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.