Lawskool

Lawskool Careers

   

As we said earlier, a Law degree opens doors. However, there are more career opportunities available to a Law student like yourself than you can imagine. If you have decided that you would like to be a lawyer, there are two options: you can become a solicitor or a barrister. A solicitor is usually the first port of call for clients, who are often caught up in highly stressful situations such as divorce. As well as an in-depth knowledge of your area of specialty, excellent inter-personal skills are essential, so that you can put people at ease, get the facts, start assembling the case and (if the situation calls for it), call in a barrister. The role of a barrister (the other type of lawyer) is to be an advocate for a client in court, and argue the client's case. Therefore, the barrister spends less time with her client than a solicitor will (in most cases), but public speaking skills are crucial, because barristers spend more time arguing on their clients' behalf in court.

If you want to become a solicitor, you need to complete the one year Legal Practice Course after you have finished your degree and consequently get hired by a firm and work as a trainee for two years before becoming a fully fledged solicitor. The route to becoming a barrister differs somewhat. A would-be barrister must, complete the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and at the same time join one of the four Inns of Court. Once she has dined the required number of times at her chosen Inn, she will officially be called to the Bar. However, she will spend 12 months 'shadowing' other barristers in what is known as a 'pupillage' before she can appear in court. Whereas trainee solicitors make anything from £22,000 to £50,000 a year from the outset, in comparison, a pupillage pays far less well - usually £12,000 a year. However, the rewards are ultimately much greater and the best barristers, Queen's Counsels (or QCs) can command a six figure salary.

Once you have decided which of the two paths is for you, it is important to decide which specialty is for you. Although neither solicitors' firms or barristers' chambers will expect you to know exactly what type of law you wish to practice (although it certainly helps if you do), they will expect you to have a rough idea. The more focused you are and the clearer you are about what you want to do, the better.

It is very important that you try and get work experience at the earliest stage possible and you should expect to apply for a training contract if you want to be a solicitor, or a pupillage if you want to be a barrister, a good two years in advance. The earlier you get started with your research about who you want to apply to, as well as what kind of law interests you, the better.

So, who can you work for? The answer depends largely on what type of law you wish to practice. If you would like to practice Criminal law, if you are a solicitor, you may be part of a firm or may work for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). If you are a barrister, because the law does not have 'sides' the way it does in the US, one day you could be hired by the CPS to prosecute a client and the next day, you could be defending a client. Just think of Jo Mills in Judge John Deed - she didn't always work for the same side, did she?

If you would like to practice family law, most likely you will be working with private clients, but you could also work for social services, child advocacy services and so on. You might specialise in one particular area of family law, for example, divorce. A recent study has indicated that over half of marriages end in divorce, so whether you specialise in divorce or not, if you're in private practice, they will be a big chunk of your work!

The allure for many students is working in the commercial sector for big businesses. There is a great deal of money to be made from working in fields such as intellectual property, commercial property, media law and so on, often working for big name clients like Esso or Marks and Spencer.

A large number of people work for the Government Legal Service (GLS). The type of work can range from drafting government bills to giving the government specialist legal advice or even representing a government department in court. The Home Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury are key areas offering employment opportunities for lawyers. The pay is not as lucrative as in private practice, but involvement in the legal workings of government and the stability of a government pension are good reasons to consider a career in the GLS.

Other Career Options

If you do not think that that a career as a solicitor or a barrister is for you, there are still many other options. There is always a demand for good Law tutors, both at university and at schools and sixth forms, as the demand for A-Level and GCSE Law has increased significantly in the last few years. If you want to be a university lecturer, the typical route is to study a Master's degree followed by a PhD. There are many graduate assistants who teach classes while working on their PhDs - so there is the opportunity for on-the-job training. If you would prefer to teach at a school or a sixth form, you can do a one year degree to achieve qualified teacher status.

If you would like to study further and get involved in the legal process without one-to-ones with clients, or court appearances, working for the Law Commission might be a good option for you. The Law Commission is a highly prestigious body which considers areas of the law ripe for reform and puts forward its suggestions for change in the form of reports or draft bills, which are very influential and often effect changes to our legislation. Usually, the Law Commission will expect you to have studied to PhD level, in preparation for the task of writing reports and drafting these bills.

If you are interested in the Law but do not want to get into the nuts and bolts of it, there are many other possibilities. Working as a law librarian, legal secretary or legal executive perhaps, working for Social Services, or even joining the police force or the civil service. The possibilities are endless.

For further information:
http://www.gls.gov.uk
http://www.cps.gov.uk
http://www.teach.gov.uk
http://www.lawcom.gov.uk
http://www.police.co.uk
http://www.ilex.org.uk
http://www.careers.civil-service.gov.uk/

Work Experience

If you have decided that you want to be a lawyer and you are wondering about work experience, as we said earlier, the sooner you start applying for work experience, the better! It shows that you have an understanding of what will be expected of you and that you are eager. Be warned though, that securing work experience is not easy. Although you would be forgiven for thinking that it is 'only work experience', the solicitors firms that do offer it take it very seriously. Many firms expect you to do more than make the coffee and will involve you in projects, and will pay you for your sins. However, because they do expect so much from you and because they are testing your abilities, it should not come as a surprise that they may offer you a training contract if they like what they see. However, what may surprise you is that from the moment of considering you for work experience, they are assessing your worth as a trainee. Therefore, it is not just 'work experience' it is potentially, your way in to a training contract.

If you want to be a barrister, then the work experience you will seek is known as a 'mini-pupillage'. In contract to work experience at a solicitor's firm, it is highly unlikely that you will be paid. Furthermore, although on a mini-pupillage your skills will be scrutinised, because of the intense competition for pupillages, it is less likely that they will be considering you for a pupillage.

It is very important that you check the dates for applying for work experience. You should expect to apply almost a year in advance for work experience. Most applications are expected to be submitted online, although there are still some firms and chambers which will require paper submissions from you. It is important to make your application as impressive as you can and get as much feedback on it as you can. Make sure you line up two good references as soon as you can as well - at least one of your lecturers, who knows you reasonably well. The earlier you get your application in the better, as competition is fierce and you can never be too eager as far as an application for work experience (or indeed your pupillage or training contract) goes.

We have compiled a list of a number of firms and chambers which offer Easter and Summer work experience:

Firm/Chambers

Areas of practise

http://www.allenovery.com

Litigation and Dispute Resolution; Employment; Finance; Intellectual Property; Private Wealth and Charities; Real Estate; Tax; US Law

http://www.cliffordchance.com

Anti-trust/Competition; Asset Management; Banking and Finance; Capital Markets; Communications, Media and Technology; Construction; Employment; Environment; Financial Institutions and Markets;  Insurance, Intellectual Property; Litigation; Corporate; Private Equity; Private Funds; Public Policy; Real Estate; Restructuring/Insolvency; Tax

http://www.eversheds.com

Commercial; Corporate; Human Resources; Legal Systems; Litigation and Disputes; Management; Real Estate

http://www.freshfields.com

Corporate; Dispute Resolution; Employment; Finance; Real Estate; Tax

http://www.jonesday.com

Anti-trust and Competition Law; Banking and Finance; Business Restructuring & Reorganisation; Corporate Criminal Investigations; Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation; Energy Delivery and Power; Environmental, Health and Safety; Government Regulation; Health Care; Intellectual Property; International Litigation & Arbitration; Labour and Employment; Private Equity; Product Liability & Tort Litigation; Real Estate; Securities and Shareholder Litigation; Tax

http://www.linklaters.com

Baking; Capital Markets; Competition/Anti-trust; Environment & Planning; Employment; Financial Markets; Insurance; Intellectual Property; Investment Management; Litigation & Arbitration; Pensions; Private Equity; Real Estate & Construction; Tax; Technology, Media & Telecommunications

http://www.pinsentmasons.com

Banking & Finance; Corporate; Dispute Resolution & Litigation; Employment; Insurance & Reinsurance; International Construction & Energy; Outsourcing, Technology & Commercial; Pension; Property; Tax; UK Construction & Engineering

http://www.slaughterandmay.com

Mergers and Acquisitions; Corporate and Commercial; Finance; Tax; Competition; Intellectual Property and Information Technology; Technology, Media & Telecoms; Commercial Real Estate; Environment; Dispute Resolution; Pensions & Employment; Private Equity

http://www.keatingchambers.com

Alternative Dispute Resolution; Arbitration; Construction; Contractual; Energy; Engineering; Environment; Infrastructure; Insurance; Litigation; Procurement Law; Professional Negligence; Small Claims; Technology; Utility

http://www.matrixlaw.co.uk

Arbitration & Mediation; Civil Actions Against the Police; Commercial Law; Competition Law; Crime and Regulatory Law; Data Protection; Discrimination and Equality; Education Law; Election Law; Employment Law; Environmental Law; EU Law; Human Rights; International Law; Local Government Law; Media and Information Law; Mental Health; Prison Law; Public Law; Sports Law

http://www.oldsquarechambers.co.uk

Employment and Discrimination; Professional Discipline; Personal Injury; Clinical Negligence; Product Liability; Environment; Health & Safety

http://www.oeclaw.co.uk

Commercial Law; Arbitration; Baking; Energy; Company & Insolvency; EU Law; Intellectual Property; Revenue Law; Licensing

http://www.qeb.co.uk

Family; Personal Injury

http://www.3paper.co.uk

Administrative Law; Arbitration; Banking; Building & Engineering; Clinical Negligence; Discrimination; Health & Safety; Information Technology; Insurance; Islamic Law; Police Law; Public Law; Real Property; Trusts

Job hunting skills

In today's competitive job market law graduates are in a prime position. Employers value that analytical, research and writing skills that law graduates can bring to the workplace.

The key to landing a great job is your ability to sell yourself to potential employers. In essence employers are looking for graduates who are adaptable, hard-working and who have well-developed people skills and a desire for life-long learning. The following web sites provide information about the skills that employers are looking for in graduates:

http://www.lawcareers.net
http://www.targetcareers.co.uk/law
http://www.lawsociety.org.uk
http://www.barcouncil.org.uk

If you are looking for firms or chambers to apply to, http://www.lawcareers.net is THE site to visit. It has a comprehensive list of all firms and chambers offering employment and work experience opportunities, as well as giving you an insight into the minds of recruiters. Well worth a visit.


****