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How to get a career in law

Law covers every aspect of society – from the age you can take your driving test to the speed you can drive when qualified; from the minimum wage to the cleanliness of the water you drink.

Traditionally, the legal profession is split into two main branches:

  • Solicitors
  • Barristers

While they are the main two branches, there are alternative options, such as chartered legal executives, paralegals, apprentices, and more.

Job stability

Economic downturns can potentially put certain industries under, however, law isn’t one of them. The legal sector has fared pretty well in recent history, giving you the desirable stability that an established profession comes with. Lawyers will always be needed, whether that’s for businesses, entrepreneurs, or laypeople, there isn’t a worry about being out of a job. In fact, reports show that there is likely to be a 9% increase in law positions from 2020 to 2030.

International work

The world is becoming increasingly connected, and it’s no different when it comes to the field of law. Securing a position at an international law firm will offer you the opportunity to take on exciting work and travel to new countries and regions abroad. Law is certainly taking the global stage when it comes to specialisations in international business rights and human rights, as well.

Diverse career options

There is a multitude of positions when it comes to law, as well as an ever-expanding range of practice areas. It allows you the opportunity to specialise in what you personally find interesting. There are a lot of different routes that you can go down, from family, criminal, and environmental law just a few of them.

Financial rewards

There is no industry in the UK that has a higher paying starting salary than law, with graduates averaging a £42,250 per year. Competitive salaries are offered across varying specialties, no matter how they choose to qualify as a lawyer. It offers flexibility in the fact that you can make the decision at any point in your career to progress or not to progress, but some salaries can reach as high as £200,000 depending on experience. On average, however, UK lawyers are paid £68,700 per year.

Growth and transferrable skills

Studying law will be the foundation for everything you need to pursue law as a career, however, your legal training also sets you up with plenty of transferrable skills. This is incredibly important as according to studies, 61% of employers prioritise a candidate’s soft skills over their career experience. You will gain skills like social, communication, emotional, and teamwork skills.

To become a law, you will need to take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) after completing a qualifying law degree (LLB). There are no specific A Levels required to take a law degree, whilst you can also enrol on an Access to Higher Education course which will give you the required UCAS points to qualify for university if passed. Whilst you don’t need a law degree to take the SQE, it would be useful to study a law conversion course, or an SQE preparation course before sitting the exam. Once the SQE has been passed, you will then need to complete two years of qualifying legal work experience before passing the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) character and suitability requirements.

A degree isn’t the only way to get into law, however, as you can complete a Solicitor Apprenticeship. This is a six-year, Level 7 programme that is aimed at A Level graduates, paralegals, and chartered legal executives.

What can I do with a law degree?

  • Arbitrator
  • Barrister
  • Barristers clerk
  • Chartered legal executive
  • Company secretary
  • Costs lawyer
  • Detective
  • Licensed conveyancer
  • Paralegal
  • Solicitor

Jobs where a law degree is useful

  • Advice worker
  • Border force officer
  • Chartered accountant
  • Civil service administrator
  • Data analyst
  • Data scientist
  • External auditor
  • Forensic computer analyst
  • Human resources officer
  • Mediator
  • Patent attorney
  • Political risk analyst
  • Stockbroker
  • Trading standards officer

What skills do I need for a career in law?

Commercial awareness

This is arguably the most important skill, as you will of course need an understanding of the law industry and how it works if you’re to work in law. This means possessing knowledge of current developments in local, national, and even world business. At the end of the day, law firms are businesses, so lawyers must be able to hit their deadlines, whilst keeping costs low and handling information confidentially.

Analytical skills

You will need the ability to make connections between thoughts and review arguments objectively to work in the legal sector. Being able to analyse large amounts of material, whilst distilling it into something manageable is important. You should be able to pick out relevant information and explain it clearly and concisely.

Working under pressure

Being able to consistently hit deadlines is key in the field of law and remaining calm in difficult situations throughout will certainly help. To help with this, you could set your own deadlines before the official deadlines, which gives you time to review your work to make sure it’s up to scratch.


Being able to communicate efficiently, both written and spoken, is key in law. You will need to be able to write cases and reports in many law professions, which requires strong written communication skills. Meanwhile, you need to be a confident speaker to argue a case when you’re arguing a case in court, negotiating settlements, or even explaining complex information to clients. Being a strong listener is also very important, as building relationships and confidence is vital.


You will need to be organised as a legal professional, as you will have a lot of data and documents to manage. It’s vital that you don’t lose any information or mix up cases. Remaining focused and having the ability to prioritise is essential, so having a filing method to draw up any documents quickly will certainly be of aid.


In many jobs in law, you will need to be able to work as part of a team, collaborating with colleagues and partners if you’re a solicitor, or developing a close relationship with your clerks if you’re a barrister. Being able to deal with people from all levels of the legal hierarchy is key, be that trainees and pupils, or members of the judiciary.

Creative thinking

You will need to be able to think outside of the box to solve certain problems, as sometimes, the best course of action isn’t the easiest or the most obvious. Seeing the bigger picture will allow you to outmanoeuvre your opposition and secure a positive result for your client.

Attention to detail

As a legal professional, you need to be able to pay very close attention to every detail. This is especially important when going through a clause or contract for a client, as missing a vital word due to not paying attention could be the difference between winning and losing your client’s case. Similarly, a single word out of place can change the meaning of a clause or a contract. Whilst misspelling and grammatical errors in emails, letters, and documents will give clients bad impressions, which will ultimately cost your firm their business.

Work ethic

A job in law may mean working undesirable hours, outside of the typical 9-5 structure, which means you need a good work ethic and motivation to succeed. Similarly, as mentioned earlier, you won’t win every case, so to be able to get back up and go again is very important.

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