Besides solicitors and barristers, there is a vast array of jobs in the legal sector. If you are ambitious, driven and determined, a career in law could be the perfect fit for you.
Law is a highly competitive sector; approximately 30,000 students undertake a law degree every year in the UK. The law sector offers high salaries and a range of careers, making it an attractive prospect for graduates from all sorts of backgrounds.
The legal sector has become refreshingly diverse over the past decade. Over 48% of new lawyers are female, and over 34% of those admitted to the bar are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Careers in Law
- Solicitor: Solicitors provide legal services to individuals and intuitions across a wide range of civil, commercial and criminal law issues. It is common for solicitors to specialise in a specific area of the legal profession, and broadly speaking are classified as commercial or non-commercial. Commercial solicitors focus on legal matter related to businesses, while non-commercial solicitors represent individuals and organisations on issues outside of business.
- Barrister: A barrister, also known as an advocate in Scotland, provides expert legal advice and represent their clients in court. Most barristers are self-employed, either working solo or in partnership with another barrister.
- Paralegal: Paralegals are employed by law firms to carry out office management and clerical duties. Paralegals are legal professionals without the formal qualifications required to practice as a lawyer. It is possible to work as a paralegal after achieving an undergraduate degree in any subject. However, candidates with academic qualifications in law or a related subject have better employment prospects.
- Trademark or patent attorney: Trademark attorneys provide expert legal advice on the usage, protection and enforcement of trademarks, such as company names and logos. Patent attorneys help individuals and companies navigate the complicated path to obtaining and maintaining a patent, which gives prevents others from making, using or selling a particular invention.
A law degree is a requirement for most law occupations, however there a variety of routes you can take to achieve the necessary qualifications.
Law degrees are offered by universities across the UK, with the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University College London ranked as the top three institutions for studying law. If you decide to take a degree in law, you will learn about the legal systems that underpin society.
If you have attended university and graduated in a subject other than law, you can undertake a law conversion course to start your career in the legal profession. You will require a 2:2 in any subject to apply for a law conversion, and typically take one year to complete full-time or two years to complete if studied part-time.
Alternatively, there is a range of degree apprenticeships available within law as an alternative to the traditional university route. The solicitor apprenticeship is a six-year programme aimed at post-A-Level students. The scheme covers all the content students would learn in a traditional law degree and enables apprentices to gain an undergraduate law degree and Master of Laws degree.
All graduates are required to undertake a two-year training contract as the final stage to qualify as a solicitor or barrister. Training contracts are like the law equivalent of a graduate scheme and are highly competitive. All law firms offer training contracts, and with the majority of people remaining with their firm post-qualification, it’s essential to choose the right firm for you.
The Magic Circle Law Firms are a group of the most prestigious and esteemed firms in both the UK and globally. The Magic Circle includes Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May. To work at one of the Magic Circle firms, you must have an excellent academic record, be ambitious, driven and firmly dedicated to commercial law.