Help – I Don’t Want to Be a Lawyer. What Else Can I Do?

If you are uncertain about your career path, don't worry - a law degree will give you plenty of options in a wide range of fields outside the legal sector.

Francine Ryan, Senior Lecturer in Law and member of the Open Justice Centre at The Open University, sheds light on some of the career opportunities available to law grads.

What have Gerard Butler, Slaven Bilic, John Cleese, and Rebel Wilson got in common? You might be surprised to learn… they all have a law degree! You might not want to pursue a career in law or be an actor or a football manager, but law is a gateway to many other job opportunities. A law degree is a highly regarded undergraduate qualification –  it teaches you analytical, critical thinking, and research skills that are transferable across many professional disciplines. You might want to explore some other career options that are related to a law degree or you might want to think more broadly. A good way to start this process is through an internship.

Internships

Sometimes it is hard to know what a job might look like before you begin. To get a better understanding of what’s involved, think about applying for an internship. Internships offer a real opportunity to gain work experience and find out whether a role could lead to the right career for you. Thomson Reuters advertise for a variety of different internships, including roles within professional services, sales, and journalism. Internships allow you to build confidence, help to develop your CV, create a network of contacts, and provide a useful introduction into a career you might want to pursue.

As well as internships for undergraduate students there is a range of graduate internships that you can apply for. It is a good idea to think about the types of organisations you would like to work for and what kind of skills you want to develop. COVID-19 has impacted on the availability of internships, but many employers are offering virtual internships.

Internships offer a real opportunity to gain work experience and find out whether a role could lead to the right career for you.

When travel is easier you could consider pursuing an internship abroad. Not only is it a great opportunity to travel and live in a different country, but it may open up areas of work that you hadn’t considered before.

It is important to remember that new career choices are opening up all the time and most people will have many different jobs during their working lives. There will be lots of opportunities to reinvent yourself. As technological advancements disrupt different industries everyone might have to be more flexible and agile in their approach to work. Do not worry if you have not decided on the right career for you; workers spend an average of 3,515 days at work over the course of their lifetime, so there is plenty time to think and reflect on what is right for you.

Once you have had the opportunity to explore an internship here are some alternative careers you might want to consider:

Civil service

The fast stream is the leadership development programme that is open to graduates with 2:2 as well as 2:1 and first class degrees. You can choose from 15 different schemes that include departments such as the Diplomatic Service, Houses of Parliament, and Government Social Research. There are a wide range of options that you can find more about by visiting their website and there is also the option of applying for internship opportunities.

Working from a Member of Parliament

Members of Parliament employ people to work in their constituency office, the type of skills you need include excellent written and communication skills, and experience of problem solving all of which you will have developed through your law degree. MPs recruit a variety of different roles from researcher to constituency caseworker. If you are interested in these types of jobs, you might also consider a career in political engagement as a lobbyist or as a policy advisor. The w4mp website has details of these types of jobs.

United Nations

If you want to explore an international career, think about applying for the Junior Professional Office Programme. Law is one of the disciplines relevant for the United Nations JPO Programme, which recruits for the UN Secretariat.

Secret Intelligence Service

You might be attracted to a career with MI6 – they recruit for a variety of different roles including intelligence officers and corporate services where you could be working in procurement, finance or legal. The Secret Intelligence Service website has more information on the careers available.

Think about what your interests are and use that as a starting point for jobs and careers, a law degree is a highly respected qualification, so you are well placed to pursue new opportunities.

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