There are many, many different areas of legal practice ranging from Human Rights, to Family, from Banking and Finance to Shipping. The size of these practice areas can be very different but the sheer variety illustrates the centrality of law to many aspects of life. This variety is reflected in the backgrounds of those joining the legal profession; graduates in Politics, Languages, History and Development Studies to name just a few degrees are working within the sector.
As a non-law graduate you have a great deal to offer. You can bring a different perspective through the study of your subject and your degree, plus all the other things which you will have done outside of your academic work will have helped you develop the key skills which the law profession values. These include excellent interpersonal, written and oral communication skills as well as strong problem solving abilities. Language skills are often highly valued by employers and, in some global firms, with offices in many different parts of the world, there are chances, even for trainees to experience working in the legal sector outside of the UK.
What is your image of a lawyer? Working in a large, multinational commercial environment on major business deals? Addressing the jury at the end of a trial? Advising someone on their rights relating to custody of children? There are many different types of law firms from local and national government, global and smaller specialist firms and lots in between not forgetting barristers’ chambers. Be prepared for your assumptions to be challenged in many ways when you start to research a career in law.
Where to start? If you are just beginning to explore options, then websites such as Allaboutlaw, Lawcareers.net and TARGETjobs Law, provide good starting points. Follow the links on My SOAS Careers to the ‘careers by sector’ section of the Moodle for lots more resources. You will also find more detailed information on the different areas of legal practice, how to find work experience and vacancies and more
It is good to talk so once you have done some basic research, if you need some help to work out what to do next, then make an appointment to talk to a Careers Consultant. You can also look out for more opportunities to develop your knowledge of the legal profession through Careers Service events
The SOAS Law Fair on 20th October will give you a good opportunity to find out more about training routes and also to talk to recent graduates working in some law firms. To make the most of your time at the Fair though please do some basic research first using the websites listed above so you can do yourself justice (no pun intended!).
Claire Rees, Careers Consultant