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The Oracle

Becoming a lawyer with a science background

updated on 08 June 2021

Dear Oracle

I’m due to start my law conversion in September. Does my degree in physics make me more suited to a niche practice area such as patent law?

The Oracle replies

There are many lawyers with science backgrounds out there, working in a range of legal practice areas. As you have noticed, a science background may be particularly useful in fields such as intellectual property (IP), where an understanding of the science underpinning a patented product can improve your ability to provide excellent legal advice. However, a science background does not limit you to IP – your skills are transferable to many different areas of law.

It is usually important to have a good degree mark (generally a 2:1 or above), but the key will be to demonstrate transferable skills from your work, studying and life experiences, plus any legal work experience you may be able to gain (such as a vacation scheme or volunteering).

You must also convincingly articulate your reasons for seeking a career as a lawyer. Most firms offer around 50% of their training contracts to those from non-law backgrounds, so your scientific background, skills and unique perspective will be highly valued.

Continue your research by meeting members of the legal profession (lawyers as well as law firm recruiters) virtually or face to face, for example, at open days and insight schemes. Another good way to do that this term would be to attend a university law fair. By conducting thorough research, you will also be able to identify several firms that have a strong tendency to welcome candidates specifically from scientific backgrounds. Your knowledge of a particular sector could be of huge importance to a number of firms. But equally, the analytical skills and other competencies demonstrated by your degree are widely applicable to non-scientific areas of law, too.

Concentrate on demonstrating your dedication to the legal profession. Think how to answer why, after completing a science degree, do you want to practise law? What skills have you developed that will enhance your legal career? What can you offer a law firm? So long as you can demonstrate that you are a good candidate, your background will not be a stumbling block to success.

Head to our dedicated zone for non-law students for more information and advice about converting to law.