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The world outside your law degree

The world outside your law degree

Bethany Barrett

02/09/2021

I recently graduated with my law degree (which still feels odd to write) and, call me nosy, one of the most interesting things following this has been hearing about the plans of my fellow graduates. These conversations have reminded me how versatile a law degree is and forced me to think of life outside of legal studies.

While several other members of my cohort are following the same, or similar, paths to me into the solicitor/ barrister field, many are not and never had any plans to. Thinktanks, research and policy roles seem to be common, which is understandable given the analytical skills cultured throughout a law degree and its appeal to students who see law as an insightful lens through which society can be viewed.

A further group of students are taking a year, or an indefinite period, either off completely or to work things out. This seems self-explanatory, especially since covid-19 has made so many people take a step back to re-evaluate their life plans. Whether it is plans to paralegal while applying for training contracts or to work at a supermarket to allow you to save money for future studies or travel, these are worthy pursuits and should not be seen as mere ‘stop-gaps’. The skills developed will be valuable, and for some, the choice to focus purely on their third-year studies and apply for their dream job once they have left university is the best decision.

Maybe the real reason I find talking to people about their post-university plans interesting is that for so long I have lived my life inside my law degree bubble. Like a protective shield, what you study inevitably becomes part of you (whether this is a good thing or not in the case of a law student’s reputation, I’ll let you decide). This is also the case before you go to university, as it’s almost impossible to escape conversations about your future study plans with teachers in the months leading up to A levels or GCSEs. After three final years of living happily inside my law degree bubble, it has been rudely burst by the real world. While I am still continuing my legal studies through my LPC next year, it will be in a different place, with different people and overall a very different course and experience.

Slowly dwindling are the days where ‘what do you study?’ will be the ultimate fallback conversation starter for me. Whatever stage you are at with your legal studies, maybe now is a good time to remember your aims in starting down this path. While many may assume a law degree leads to a legal career, this is not the case if you do not want it to be.

Equally, if you aren’t studying law, know that there’s always time to change career (and come to the dark side…). Graduating is a scary time, and you may feel restricted by expectations of you moulded by your degree. But know that whatever you choose to do, nothing is permanent if you don’t want it to be. Don’t be afraid to try something completely new! Whatever you decide, the world really is your oyster. Armed with a law degree, you are instantly a skilled and commendable graduate. Now, you just have to show employers that.

Visit LCN’s Alternative Careers section for information on various roles outside the legal profession.