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What other options do you have after graduating with a law degree?

updated on 13 April 2022

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If you have recently graduated with a law degree – congratulations. If you are about to take your final exams – good luck. If you are reading this article, you’re probably wondering what to do once you have graduated. Have you considered becoming a paralegal?  Here are some reasons why you should…

You can start working in a legal environment sooner

Becoming a solicitor in the UK takes five to six years, including your degree. This includes the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and at least two years of qualifying legal work experience. Qualifying as a paralegal will take you less time and be less costly.

The practical experience you’ll gain from securing a job after you qualify is important. Look for paralegal jobs that will give you the crucial experience and will help you to practise applying the theoretical knowledge you gained while studying. Working as a paralegal can be within a legal environment, such as a law firm, but experience can also be gained by working within companies, charities and in-house legal departments in industry.

Becoming a paralegal is far less costly than becoming a solicitor

Qualifying as a paralegal is significantly less costly than qualifying as a solicitor. The introduction of the SQE allows for two routes to qualification: the first is for non-law degree applicants; the second for those with a law degree. The cost of sitting the SQE amounts to £3,980, which excludes the cost of the new preparation courses being developed by legal education providers – although not mandatory, all candidates are being encouraged to take them to give themselves the best chance of passing the exams.

You can read LawCareers.Net’s guide to SQE preparation courses for further information on the courses available.

As a law graduate, you can work as a paralegal without any further qualifications, but most employers will look for relevant paralegal qualifications. The NALP Level 7 Diploma in Paralegal Practice is designed to bridge the gap between an academic degree and the practical, procedural knowledge and skills necessary to be able to function effectively as a paralegal practitioner. The National Paralegal College is currently charging £1,660 for this. As a distance learning qualification, this can be studied while you are working, so you can start working – and earning – within a legal practice or in a legal department while studying.

You can do almost everything a solicitor can

A paralegal is not simply an assistant to a solicitor. Paralegals can practise law in their own right provided certain criteria are met. However, reserved activities, such as conveyancing and conducting litigation, are areas in which a paralegal cannot practise, but there are many more where they can.

Here are just a few:

  • Assisting someone who wishes to represent themselves in court.
  • Help people who have been arrested and taken to a police station.
  • Helping people with matrimonial issues.
  • When someone wishes to take action against an employer through a tribunal.
  • Assisting in the writing or a will or obtaining lasting power of attorney.

Interested? Want more information? Read LawCareers.Net’s paralegal guide for future solicitors.

It can be a stepping-stone

Paralegals are in high demand and being a paralegal is a rewarding career in itself. Nevertheless, for some it may be a stepping-stone to becoming a solicitor. Paralegals are an extremely important part of the legal profession and the experience you gain as a paralegal can hold you in good stead if you wish to become a solicitor later down the line.

Could working as a paralegal help me become a solicitor?

Amanda Hamilton is chief executive of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit membership body and the only paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its Centres around the country, accredited and recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for those looking for a career as a paralegal professional. Follow the NALP on Twitter (@NALP_UK), LinkedIn and Facebook