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Getting started as a non-law student

Getting started as a non-law student

Chantal Elian


Finding your way in a legal career coming from a non-law background can feel a bit like a maze. Over time it will become much easier to navigate your way around and you will be surprised by how quickly you will become familiar with things you had never even heard of a few weeks before.

Knowing where to start can be the trickiest part. Often, coming from a non-law background, you might be the only person you know considering this as an option. However, you definitely won’t be the first one to feel a little lost, so do not worry! If you are looking for a few ways to get started but are not sure what you could do, hopefully these tips will help!

Create a LinkedIn profile

One of the first pieces of advice I personally received was to create a LinkedIn profile. Having an online professional profile can be a great tool not only for others to learn more about you, but also as a place to network and research. It can also be an encouraging way to interact with a wider group of people with whom you ordinarily may have struggled to keep in contact with or may never have crossed paths with otherwise.

LinkedIn can also be a great tool for researching and finding inspiration for things you might want to get involved with, whether it be a particular event that you see somebody post about or an award somebody has shared that they have received. It can be a great starting point for research and offers the potential to explore new opportunities.

Start your research simply and build up 

When you begin considering a legal career, Google will become your best friend. Amongst all the brand new words and abbreviations, sometimes starting in the shallow end is worthwhile to make the process a little easier later on.

Considering the overall process and then diving into each individual aspect is a great way to divide your research into manageable chunks and helps you to identify what is important to you at each stage. As a non-law student, the best starting point would currently be the Graduate Diploma in Law (known as the GDL); after that, the next decision would be considering whether you might like to become a solicitor or a barrister and the relevant course and application process for whichever you decide.

Getting your head around the process with a little research can allow you to begin considering what it means for you and what your next move should be. Do not be afraid to ask questions and try not to worry about knowing everything straight away – you will never stop learning new things and once you begin the process some of your research will begin to make much more sense and you will pick some new things up along the way too!

Plan ahead

An important factor to keep in mind from very early on is the need to think ahead. As it stands, the first few years after completing your non-law degree will need to be filled with various postgraduate courses and there will be various application seasons and opportunities available starting as soon as your final year of your undergraduate degree.

If you are looking to become a solicitor and apply for training contracts, law firms can often recruit two years in advance and the relevant courses you need may require an application in advance and some important decisions on where you want to study and how.

As you are nearing the end of your non-law degree it can be handy to think ahead and consider the steps you need to take and when. Having an idea of the bigger picture can help you to see where you are heading and keep you on track. You do not necessarily need to commit to anything right away and plans will always change and adapt. Having a rough idea can be helpful when filling out applications and it can be encouraging to have some sort of focus and end goal.