29 August 2017
Ever considered a career in law? It could change the way you think
By Alex Findlay, Director, Hayes + Storr
There have been law schools in existence since the Roman Empire. Many famous people have trained as lawyers, including the politicians Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, the artist Matisse and author Victor Hugo, and even the comedians John Cleese and Bob Mortimer.
For many, the idea of working in law conjures up visions of courtrooms with people wearing wigs and a judge striking a hammer (gavel) on a block – but most people’s ideas about what goes on in a courtroom come from films, television and books. In fact, gavels have never been used by judges in the UK (it’s an idea we’ve got from American TV) and a career in law may not actually involve interaction with the courts at all.
Although for some, money is the main driver, lots of people today choosing a route into the legal profession do so to make a difference to people’s lives and give a voice to those who don’t have anyone to speak up for them. As an example, The Human Rights Act is a UK law passed in 1998 which allows you to defend your rights in UK courts and compels public organisations (including the Government, police and local councils) to treat everyone equally with fairness, dignity and respect.
Whatever your motivation, talents or skill sets, there’s almost certainly a path into law suited to you.
We’re at that time of year when A-level students wait nervously to find out if they’ve achieved the necessary grades to attend their chosen university. On
completing their law degree, those hoping to be solicitors will be looking at a further year undertaking the Legal Practice Course (LPC) followed by another two years of training. For those who were hedging their bets when heading off to university and didn’t pick a degree in law, there’s an additional year undertaking the Graduate Diploma in Law before the LPC.
Those interested in becoming barristers will follow the same degree route as solicitors, but after that they’ll part ways with the prospective solicitors and head for a year studying on the bar professional training course before a year as a pupil barrister.
If you don’t fancy university or are understandably wary of the eye-watering level of student debt, there are other routes into law. Two established avenues into the profession (usually through on-the-job training) are by qualifying as a legal executive or a licence conveyancer. Both often work alongside solicitors, and can also run practices in their own right. As well as undertaking various examinations during your training you’ll also be required to commit to a period of qualifying employment; around five years in the case of a legal executive, although there is a fast track for graduates. It’s also possible, having qualified as a legal executive, to take further exams and qualify as a solicitor.
Being a lawyer isn’t the only path into the legal profession. There’s a very broad range of staff working in legal practices such as paralegals, PAs and legal secretaries, accounts and marketing staff. All these roles are crucial to the running of a law firm and are open to school leavers or those looking for a new challenge. Regardless of your role or the route you take into the profession, law is a rewarding, intellectually stimulating and challenging career you can enjoy.
This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.
If you’d like any further advice or information on a career in law, call me on 01328 863231 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.