Which Careers Can You Pursue With a Law Degree?
It’s often stated that a Law degree is among the most versatile and transferable options at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Whilst there are traditional and well-trodden paths into the legal industry, there are even more legal career possibilities that you may never have considered or even heard of!
To help you out, here’s a list of six careers to consider if you want to study Law:
This is one of the “classic” legal careers available to Law students.
Solicitors are legal professionals who take instructions from a client, and give advice on a host of matters. This can range from criminal issues to family disputes, and from taxation to shipping law. Most solicitors, work largely in an office environment, with occasional travel to meet clients or attend court. So if you’re a budding debater – or you want a career arguing at court in a wig and gown – this may not be the right career for you!
A key point to note is that not all solicitors are the same, and there are two key areas in which they differ:
- The type of work they conduct – this may be specialist, like only working on criminal cases or focusing on family related matters, or far broader, covering a wide range of legal issues and client requirements.
- The organisation for which the solicitors work – for example, there are dedicated law firms which only employ solicitors, as well as larger companies with their own in-house legal departments to deal with any work that the company requires.
Alternatively, there are a host of other possibilities such as working with local authorities, within the government legal profession, or with the Crown Prosecution Service.
This is another classic legal career. Barristers are (almost always) self-employed legal professionals who, like solicitors, take instructions from clients and offer advice. They’ll also represent these clients in front of juries and judges in court. Again, as with solicitors, barristers can work in a range of fields, covering all areas of the law, both domestic and international.
A key point to note here is that barristers are mostly self-employed. There are some directly employed by organisations such as the Crown Prosecution Service, but the majority are tenants at a set of barrister’s chambers.
This has a range of benefits including greater working flexibility, freedom over the work you choose to take or decline, and more flexibility over the quantity of work at any given time.
However, there are also other considerations such as reduced job security with no guarantee of consistent work, a greater responsibility for your own management, and no paid holiday.
A well known pursuit – though not one often associated with studying Law – is politics. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton attended law school, as did Barack Obama, Sir Kier Starmer, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Fidel Castro.
The skills you gain as a Law student are all directly transferable to a successful career in politics. These skills include the ability to analyse information, think critically and respond on your feet. Beyond that, studying Law at university can be an excellent launchpad into student politics, a venture that has launched many successful professional careers.
It’s worth noting that politics and the limelight aren’t for everyone. However, if you’re undecided about whether you want a career in politics, or want to keep the doors open for other possibilities, a Law degree can be of great benefit!
4. Military Legal Services
A little-known possibility for a Law graduate is to enter into the legal department or service of a military branch. The Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force each have independent legal services that deal with day-to-day and specialist requirements as needed. This includes a range of military and administrative law, both in the UK and internationally, alongside elements of traditional public and private domestic legal work.
It’s worth noting again that this isn’t a career for everyone! However, there are a number of unique benefits to entering this profession. There can be opportunities to travel extensively, and to take part in events, activities and legal work of an entirely different nature than you would typically find as a traditional barrister or solicitor. These can conversely be downsides, depending on your desire for certain work types, locations and travel, though this is a career well worth considering.
Another well known career – though again one not often associated with studying Law – is journalism. The skills gained as a Law student, particularly in writing, analysing and critically processing information, are directly transferable and applicable to a career as a journalist.
Like politics, studying Law at university can be an excellent opportunity to engage in student journalism, develop some experience, and test whether this is something you want to pursue in your professional career.
A particular consideration for this career path is the range of work that can be undertaken as a journalist. There are, of course, opportunities to engage in legal journalism, writing and publishing on legal developments, issues and matters. However, with the transferable and essential skills acquired whilst studying Law, the possibilities are almost endless.
6. Business Consultancy
The last legal career on this list, though by no means the least important, is that of business consultant. This role involves working with businesses and organisations to improve on the business’ strategy, resolve any issues that may be present or on the horizon, and add overall value. This can include working with large for-profit companies, small startups, charities and social enterprises across a whole range of fields, specialities and areas!
Whilst completing your Law degree, you’ll likely have a host of opportunities to be involved with student consulting (such as through 180 Degrees Consulting), and other related activities and events. You’ll also have loads of volunteering opportunities, and the possibility of completing internships with businesses and firms that specialise in offering consultancy.
A Law degree will also equip you with the transferable skills necessary to make the most of these opportunities, and kickstart a career in consulting. These include critical thinking, strong analytical skills, and excellent individual and team management, leadership and organisation.
This is a legal career well worth considering whether you’re interested in businesses generally, helping charities, social impact, problem solving, or working with people!
Wherever your interests lie and whatever skills you possess, the right career for you will be out there. For more helpful tips and guidance about university applications, check out the OxBright website. Take a quiz to receive your University Preparation Report, and read about a day in the life of an Oxford Law student!
By Jessica Mason
Jessica is currently studying a BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, and has a particular interest in Early Modern theatre. She enjoys writing articles and has lots of experience in student journalism.
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