What Can I Do With a Law Degree?
When people think of a law degree, they often view it as a route to a career in the legal profession. Although the law degree is a great foundation for legal practice, it would probably surprise many to learn that only a minority of law graduates actually go on to work as a solicitor or barrister.
In fact, having a law degree is useful in a much wider range of careers. Emma Jones, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Sheffield shares some examples with Lawyer Monthly.
1. Legal Careers
It is worth starting by mentioning legal careers, as many law students are still keen to work in the law. Although being a solicitor or barrister are the traditional option, it is important to recognise that there are many others available. A number of these are jurisdiction-specific, such as working as a Chartered Legal Executive in England and Wales. Others are recognised globally and stem from the changing nature of the legal profession, for example, the incorporation of digital technology into law firms has led to jobs such as a legal knowledge engineer or legal data scientist.
2. Careers Using Your Legal Knowledge
A sound knowledge of law is a real bonus in a variety of jobs. For example, police officers have to understand the law in order to be able to enforce it appropriately. Other examples could include applying your knowledge of employment law to work in a human resources department or using your understanding of contracts to work within construction and surveying.
If you are interested in law teaching, many schools and colleges offer GCSEs, A Levels or access courses in law, or related subjects such as citizenship. There may also be openings to work as a law tutor in your local area.
A sound knowledge of law is a real bonus in a variety of jobs.
3. Careers Involving Your LEgal SKills
The skills you have developed during your law degree are likely to be just as valuable as its content. For example, being able to research in a detailed and thorough manner is valuable a range of different settings, from working in local government to becoming a librarian. Your ability to work with large amounts of information could lead you to consider a role working with data. Managing your time successfully could mean you have valuable skills to apply in a role involving time pressures, or could lead you to think about becoming a project manager. Not to mention the value of your persuasive skills (mooting anyone?) when it comes to public relations and marketing.
4. Further Study
If you’ve enjoyed your time at law school, rather than moving into the job market straightaway, you may also want to consider going on to a postgraduate qualification such as an LLM (Masters degree in law). This could eventually lead to you working in academia and teaching on the law degree yourself. You can chose between a taught LLM, where you attend lectures and/or seminars or a research LLM, where you focus in on a specific topic of your choosing. As well as being genuinely interested in law as a discipline, you’ll need to show that you can study independently and undertake legal research to succeed on an LLM.
Many law students also go on to postgraduate study in different disciplines, including sociology, criminology and psychology, although some institutions may require you to studying a ‘bridging course’ first.
5. Changing the World!
Lots of students study law because they are passionate about social justice and upholding basic rights and liberties. If this sounds like you, it is worth exploring roles in charities and non-profit making organisations (sometimes known as the third or voluntary sector). Even if this isn’t the area you want to work in, there may be opportunities for volunteer work in your spare time.
Overall, your law degree will provide you with a great level of knowledge and fantastic transferable skills, opening up a wide range of careers. If you aren’t sure which career options are right for you, it is important to get in touch with your university’s career service. They can provide valuable advice and guidance tailored to your abilities and preferences. Whatever your choice, your law degree is likely to help you along the way.