Government lawyers provide a range of legal services to a number of government organisations, including central Whitehall departments. They undertake interesting and high quality legal work and have the opportunity to move around and work in different areas of law and practice, and within different departments, throughout their careers. For those who choose to specialise in a particular area of law or practice, there are opportunities to do so. The benefits of working as a lawyer within government include a good work life balance; flexible-working opportunities; an attractive pension scheme; and access to high quality training programmes. The Government Legal Profession supports the aim of the wider civil service to be the UK’s most inclusive employer. This means providing a great place to work for all.
Whether the government is creating new laws, buying goods and services, investigating mergers which could restrict competition, setting the annual budget and collecting the right amount of tax, employing people, fighting organised crime or defending its decisions in court, it needs significant levels of legal advice on a whole range of complex issues.
Government departments are looking to recruit talented people from a wide range of backgrounds, who can demonstrate the type of skills and behaviours required for the role. For example, the ability to make effective decisions and to communicate effectively. And because the work is often high profile and can have a significant and positive impact upon the lives of millions across the country, the legal trainees they recruit will be motivated about public service.
The training period will be for two years. During the pupillage period (ie first 12 months) your time will be split between your department and a set of external barristers’ chambers. The departments which typically offer trainee barrister places are the Government Legal Department (GLD) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Departments aim to offer a permanent qualified lawyer position on successful completion of training, although this can never be guaranteed.
Recruitment is usually two years in advance. However, some trainee places tend to be available for those looking to start sooner. Online ability tests and a half-day assessment centre have been used in previous years to assess the essential skills and behaviours required for the role. Please check the website for full details when the application process opens, usually in early July.
Generally departments will pay your Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) or Legal Practice Course fees (LPC) in full, where you have not started the course at the time of accepting an offer. There is no preference to which bar school or law school you attend, or, to the electives you undertake as part of the course. You may also be eligible for a grant of about £5,400 (national) to £7,600 (London) for the vocational year if you intend to study for your BPTC or LPC on a full-time, or part-time, basis. You’ll need to discuss your eligibility for a grant with the department at the offer stage. Unfortunately, departments will be unable to provide funding for the Graduate Diploma in Law.
Administrative & public law
The public law Bar spans the full range of administrative, public and constitutional law.
An aviation barrister will be used in disputes from everything from aircraft leasing and insurance to disasters, hijackings and theft.
Banking & finance
Barristers and banks generally cross paths when something costly has gone wrong in relation to a transaction or product.
Civil liberties & human rights
Human rights law is essential for a fair society where all are protected, including the vulnerable.
Company law is relevant to almost everything a company does, from filing annual returns to proper procedure in relation to board decisions.
Competition and regulatory work involves a mixture of commercial, public and European law.
Employment lawyers handle a variety of issues, including unfair dismissal, discrimination, redundancy, equal pay and whistleblowing claims.
European Union and international
Employment barristers may appear before the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, international tribunals and domestic courts.
Immigration lawyers deal with all legal matters relating to immigration and nationality.
Some of the biggest insolvencies have billions of pounds at stake, so there can be lucrative work for barristers.
<p>IP barristers advise on issues such as infringement disputes, issues on validity of registered IP rights, and commercial agreements that deal either exclusively with IP rights or with IP rights in the wider context of larger commercial transactions.</p>
Personal injury law falls under the law of tort and involves civil claims brought to obtain compensation for injuries.
Planning law regulates the way property owners use and develop their property in the interests of the wider community.
Clinical negligence is a type of professional liability involving disputes between patients and healthcare providers.
<p>Property law (now sometimes labelled as ‘real estate’) embraces a wide range of work, including ‘real property’ such as contracts for sale, covenants and land registration, trusts over land; and commercial and residential tenancies involving issues as diverse as disrepair, possession claims, succession and assignment. </p>
Whether it’s EU-originated, domestic or an industry code of conduct, regulation affects all aspects of civil life and commercial activity.
Tax barristers advise and litigate on all aspects of commercial and personal tax issues.
Sports & entertainment
Among the different types of client are professional athletes; their managers, coaches and agents; sports clubs and brand sponsors.