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3 things to keep in mind when starting out as a non-law student

3 things to keep in mind when starting out as a non-law student

Chantal Elian


Your first encounters with the legal world as a non-law student can generate many new experiences and a few unfamiliar feelings. As with anything new, it can take some getting used to. Therefore, some reassurance that you are not the only one who feels that way can go a long way.

On reflection it was my own worries that, more often than not, made things feel scarier than necessary! Hopefully, by sharing the three biggest things that I learnt during this period I can help settle your nerves, encourage you to embrace your non-law background and remind you that you are capable of anything you set your mind too!

1. Don’t fear being asked "why law?" – embrace it!

At some point during your journey you will undoubtedly be asked "why law?" Particularly if you have a non-law background, people are likely to be interested in your reasons for exploring and pursuing a law career; in time, you might even find yourself asking other non-law students the same question.

For a while I worried about being asked this question and panicked over whether my reasons made sense to anybody else or if a perfect answer existed. However, if I could go back and give myself one piece of advice it would be that, in reality, this question is one that you should look forward to answering! 

Whatever your reasons for making the decision to explore a law career, embrace them! They are often a great way for others to gain an understanding of what motivates you and can lead to some interesting conversations. Your non-law background may have introduced you to completely different experiences and people will be intrigued to know more.

2. All of your experiences matter!

There is no such thing as having the ‘right’ work experience and you should not feel as though what you have is comparatively inadequate. Coming from a non-law background, your past work experience is likely to reflect your journey so far and the avenues you have explored.

All of your experiences matter, regardless of work area or day-to-day role. Over time you will gain more law-specific experience, so don’t worry that what you have is not good enough; your experiences are what you make of them!

Your skills, attributes and attitude are some of the most valuable things gained from any work experience. Being able to show how these will compliment your legal career and how they have helped you to grow as an individual means that all work experiences are worthwhile. Your experience so far as a non-law student is not automatically redundant as soon as you decide to pursue a law career!

3. Nobody is at a disadvantage because of their degree

It gets repeated so often, but there really is no disadvantage to having a non-law background and the legal world is just as accessible to you as it is to anybody. By networking and tackling the application process with both law and non-law students, you will soon realise that everybody is in the same boat. There is no flashing sign above your head saying that you are a non-law student, so don’t overthink it and try not to compare yourself to others.

It is also important to remember that you are not alone in the process – even if you find yourself as the only non-law student in a room. Along the way you will meet amazing people who support each other, and sharing advice and experience is a great part of the process. Nobody should be left feeling as though they are at any kind of disadvantage. You will soon realise that, just as everyone has similar goals, we all share the same worries!