updated on 29 August 2023
Studying a law degree opens a world of possibilities when it comes to choosing a career and certainly doesn’t limit you to a job in the legal profession. Use this guide to six alternative careers for law graduates to help kickstart your career research.
Reading time: seven minutes
While many law graduates will have pursued a law degree knowing full well that working at the Bar, in a solicitors’ law firm or in-house, for example, is their end goal, many won’t know what direction they want their career to head (and that’s more than ok). Or perhaps the dream was to become a solicitor, but this has since changed.
Either way, a law degree can set you up for a fantastic career within several industries away from the legal profession if that’s what you’re after. Below, LawCareers.Net has outlined six alternative career options for those of you unsure where you want your law degree to lead.
If you’re looking for alternative careers in the law, you can head to LawCareers.Net’s Alternative careers section for information on working as an outdoor clerk, costs lawyer, court reporter and more.
Consultancy is a great option for law graduates with employers looking for candidates with key skills, including problem solving and strong analytical abilities. The role of a consultant isn’t limited to just one industry either; there are several types of consultant, including economic, strategy, marketing, research, technology and legal.
As a consultant, you’d be providing expert advice to clients to help them solve problems, come up with solutions and implement strategies to improve their business. The exact role you’d play would naturally depend on clients’ needs and your specialism. You should conduct further research into the various areas of consultancy to see whether any suit your skillset and personality.
The route to becoming a consultant is, much like law, a competitive one. As well as a degree and work experience, some form of recognised certification (eg, Certified Management Consultant) is recommended to not only improve your knowledge, but to also boost your chance of success and recognition in the consulting industry.
Many aspiring consultants start by looking for work at the Big Four (ie, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC), but securing a role as an analyst at a consulting firm is also a popular starting point for this line of work, bringing us on nicely to our next alternative career.
An analyst does more or less what it says on the tin and, like a consultant, the role varies depending on the type of analyst you are (eg, business, investment, data and research) and the situation at hand.
As an example, an economic analysist will likely be working with data sets, trends and research to put together economic forecast models to predict the future of the economy for companies, while an insurance analyst’s job is to delve into insurance policies and identify the risks for insurance companies and policyholders.
Many of the skills you develop during your law degree, including research, writing, and interpreting and relaying complex information clearly will all prove beneficial to your CV when applying for analyst roles.
Like law, the world of accountancy is vast. There are many avenues to pursue and additional qualifications required depending on the level you’re aiming for. Overall, there are five popular qualifications:
Like law firms, accountancy firms may prefer specific qualifications so do your research. There are also opportunities to complete similar programmes to the law firm training programme in which you work for a company, study and take assessments across a few years – for example, the graduate programmes at Big Four professional services firm Deloitte.
You could become an accountant for an individual business, or you might join a company like Deloitte to pursue a career in audit, which involves examining clients’ financial statements to ensure they’re accurate and compliant with laws and regulations. Alternatively, a career as a forensic accountant might suit you better.
In addition, there are a range of other banking jobs worth considering, including bank administrator and investment banker (although if you’re put off by the potential long hours that come with working in law, investment banking might not be for you either).
Whether you become a teacher or a lecturer, a job in education is another viable avenue for law graduates who don’t want to qualify as a solicitor or barrister. While the salaries may not be as groundbreaking as those taken home by solicitors, the rewards are still aplenty and being happy in your work is a key element to your success.
To become a teacher, you’ll need to do a teacher training course to achieve:
There’s an array of postgraduate teacher training courses that involve school placements and theoretical learning. When choosing your teaching training course, you should decide whether you want to teach at a primary or secondary school, or in further/adult education. While there are some salaried teaching training courses available, most are non-salaried, meaning you’d have to fund your studies and train without earning a salary. Places for salaried teacher training courses are also very competitive. That said, Teach First’s teacher training programme sees its aspiring teachers earn a salary from day one in the classroom, while also receiving a fully funded, internationally recognised qualification.
The Get Into Teaching website is a fantastic resource for graduates seeking more information on pursuing a teaching career.
If you have a law degree and a passion for writing, journalism could be the career for you but it’s worth noting that it’s yet another competitive industry to break into (aren’t they all?). Starting off as an office assistant or trainee reporter at your local or regional newspaper are great opportunities to get some experience in this area. Having a portfolio of your work is also recommended, so consider ways you can build this up, whether that’s volunteering for the student newspaper at your university or writing articles for your own blog.
The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism is a widely recognised and highly sought-after qualification by employers recruiting trainee journalists.
The work of a newspaper journalist could involve investigating breaking news stories, interviewing people, attending press conferences and researching ideas for new stories and features that are relevant to a specific audience.
Alternatively, LawCareers.Net’s parent company Law Business Research offers graduates the chance to start off their journalism careers working for high-quality brands used by lawyers all over the world. Our digital portfolio of products includes Lexology, which has more than 770,000 subscribers from over 100 countries, Global Arbitration Review, Who’s Who Legal and World Trademark Review. You can find the latest vacancies at Law Business Research via its careers portal.
Perhaps you have an interest in politics? If so, the highly competitive Civil Service Fast Stream could be a good place to start. With 15 different schemes to support candidates on their journey to a career within a government profession, the fast stream experience offers a variety of opportunities. Depending on the scheme selected:
The schemes last between two to four years and range from science and engineering, the Houses of Parliament, government social research, generalist, and digital, data, technology and cyber. For a full list of the schemes available visit the fast stream website.
As an example, the London-based Houses of Parliament scheme can last between two to four years, with a salary of around £28,000. Candidates on the scheme will either be based in the House of Commons or the House of Lords. They must be eligible to work in the UK and have (or expect to have) a 2:2 or higher in any degree subject including degree apprenticeships. Candidates will work with politicians from all parties to analyse government policy and support the UK’s democratic process, while learning how parliament works. Meanwhile, the generalist scheme lasts three years, has a salary of £28,840 and is UK-wide, offering candidates the chance to experience work in various departments, including the Cabinet Office and the Department for Work and Pensions.
So, it’s clear that studying law doesn’t pigeonhole you into a career in the legal industry. There are so many options worth exploring and the above examples should act as a good starting point. Do your research, get some experience and speak to people in the various industries to try to ascertain what it is you’ll most enjoy.
For those with a law degree who are still contemplating a career in law but don’t want to join a big US or magic circle firm, there are other options for you too. Consider widening your search to regional firms and don’t forget to look for in-house opportunities too.
Take a look at this list of some law-related alternative careers, including legal secretary and court reporter.
The possibilities are vast. Good luck!
Olivia Partridge (she/her) is the content manager at LawCareers.Net.