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LCN Says

What should I do with my law degree?

updated on 13 January 2022

Reading time: five minutes

If your experience of studying for the LLB (law) degree was anything like mine, you would have heard a lot of talk about ‘training contracts’, ‘pupillage’ and not much else!

The natural expectation is that if you have a law degree you will end up working at a law firm post-university but it isn’t always as straightforward as that.

The truth is, the world of work is so much bigger, and many law graduates go on to enjoy successful careers in a wide range of sectors. Even if you have your heart set on qualifying as a solicitor or barrister, gaining experience in different sectors will only contribute to you being a stronger candidate.

Check out the LawCareers.Net Alternative Careers page.

A good grounding in law will put you in good stead for many career paths but with so many sectors, how do we find which one is best suited to us?

1. Find out your ‘why’

Your ‘why’ is essentially what motivates you, what gets you out of bed each morning despite feeling exhausted and what will push you to keep going when you no longer have the energy. You will often find that your why and what drives you will create long-term fulfilment and sustainability. Identifying your motivations are important in your search for a career.

Some people might find that they are driven by helping others, while others might be motivated extrinsically by a large paycheck.

  • Helping others – if helping others to achieve better outcomes or work towards their goals motivates you then you might enjoy a career as a teacher, professor, counsellor, charity worker, social worker, family lawyer or as a coach, for example.
  • Working to achieve positive changeare you thrilled at the idea of producing work that impacts the wider public or provides a tangible difference? Then a career in public services, the government or the charity sector may be for you. This could include working at a regulator such as the Financial Conduct Authority or Prudential Regulation Authority to ensure consumers are protected or working on public funding at HM Treasury.
  • Putting your ideas forward – if you’re an avid writer and enjoy putting your thoughts and opinions to paper you could consider a career in publishing, journalism or writing. While you’re studying, you could even consider blogging for LawCareer.Net.
  • Earning a good salary – are you keen to secure a healthy paycheck each month? Are you motivated by the idea of bonuses? Then a career in financial services, banking, investment banking, commercial law, insurance and broking might be the right fit for you, as they typically consist of generous salaries, even for graduates. That said, don’t pursue a career solely for the high pay – there must be other factors too.

2. Identify your strengths

When it comes to careers, I have often been told “you should be what you are”. Having a good understanding of our strengths allows us to find a career where we can make the best use of them.

Everyone has a unique set of strengths, some that they are born with and some strengths that have been built over time. Knowledge of what we do well gives us the power to be confident in our abilities, sell ourselves as a candidate, and find a career that is well suited to us. For example, a brilliant barrister makes the best use of their speaking abilities and an excellent counsellor by using their listening abilities.

Have a think about what your strengths are, make a note of these, and make sure they are clear in your mind.

Knowing what you do well will have you well prepared for when you receive an interview or secure a place on an assessment centre.

The people in our lives can play an important role in helping us to understand our strengths. If you work part-time or undertake a work placement ask your manager, supervisor or even colleagues for feedback and try to keep a record of this so you can refer to it later.

Feedback will also help you to identify areas for improvement and, remember, self-awareness is power! You can also ask your friends or family members what they consider to be your strong points, often other people see in us what we don’t even see in ourselves.

3. Keep an open mind and TRY

We often find out our ‘why’, our strengths and what we truly enjoy through life experience so my advice is to try out as many different roles as you can. Whether it be work experience, vacation schemes, mini-pupillages, volunteering or undertaking part-time work while at university – anything you experience will be valuable.

Don’t be afraid of failing or tempted to succumb to the need to follow traditional career paths or anyone’s expectations. Commit to finding what works for you. Be open-minded and don’t wait for the opportunity to knock, create opportunities for yourself and be enthusiastic about exploring what’s out there.

4. Research, research, research

Visit the LawCareers.Net Researching Section.

For an in-depth guide to researching law firms, read our Feature “How to research law firms when applying for vacation schemes” 

Use as many resources as you can to learn about different opportunities. LinkedIn is a great way to build a network, connect with future employers and find job vacancies. You could even get headhunted on LinkedIn!

Other tools I found useful (and still use) to learn about graduate employers, explore articles and for general insight about careers include Prospects, TARGETjobs and Glassdoor.

YouTube videos are also an excellent method of finding out graduates experiences working at different employers and their advice on applications, interviews and assessment centres.

If you would like to have a chat or any further advice, feel free to contact me via LinkedIn.

To find out more about alternative careers:

Kahlicia Hurley is a first-class law graduate and policy assistant in ABI’s conduct regulation team.