Career Options in Law: Graduate
All set to put your efforts into a law career? You’ve got the degree; now go and earn your training!
Law opportunities for graduates
- Training contract
- Paralegal work
If you want to become a solicitor, as a graduate you can apply for a training contract with a law firm. This is by no means as simple as it sounds, with thousands of other applications to compete against each year and only a handful of contracts on offer in comparison. But it’s worth a shot! And if you’ve worked hard to gain some varied work experience to accompany a strong academic record, you could be a strong candidate. You could also try to apply for vacation schemes to bolster your applications.
If you’re lucky enough to secure a training contract, then you will spend two years with your employer law firm, rotating around different departments and learning how to practice by carrying out real work, with real responsibilities. After two years you will qualify as an NQ, and will be able to pursue an area of practice, with the opportunity to progress to an associate and even, eventually, a partner in a firm.
If the barrister route is you preferred choice, it’s a very similar story: only the brightest and most dedicated candidates will secure pupillage for a firm. You can apply for pupillage with a number of chambers via the Pupillage Gateway, though some chambers request direct applications. This is pretty much the Luke Skywalker apprentice phase when it comes to becoming a barrister. Pupillage usually lasts a year: the first six months involve shadowing a barrister at the chambers; the second of the ‘sixes’ allows the pupil to practise as a barrister.
The solicitor and barrister routes aside, there are some paralegal roles that could be an option for graduates too. Senior paralegals can carry out many of the duties of a solicitor.
Will my degree do?
The beauty of the legal sector is that you will be eligible with any degree discipline. But take note: anyone that hasn’t studied an LLB undergraduate law degree will be required to study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
It is usually necessary to have at least a 2:1 in your degree to be considered for a training contract or pupillage. It’s an incredibly competitive sector to get into, and it may prove difficult to follow the solicitor or barrister route if you don’t achieve this, though paralegal work can still be an option.
Is postgraduate study necessary?
In a word, yes! But how much you have to do will depend on what you studied for your undergraduate degree.
All non-law graduates and graduates that studied a BA in Law, rather than an LLB, must study the GDL. This conversion course packs in three years’ worth of LLB into one, intense year of seminars, study and exams. At the end of it, students that take this course will find themselves at the same stage at those who studied LLB Law.
And it doesn’t stop there. Before anyone can undertake their training contract or pupillage, they must pass a mandatory vocational course that prepares them for practice. On the solicitor side of things, this course is the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Aspiring barristers will have to take the BPTC (Bar Practitioner Training Course). Both of least courses also last a year full time. If you’re lucky enough to have obtained a training contract before beginning or during your GDL or LPC, your law firm may well pay you fees! Inns of Court Scholarships can also help to fund GDL and BPTC study.