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The Oracle

Becoming a lawyer with a science background

updated on 25 March 2024

Dear Oracle

Does my physics degree make me more suited to a niche practice area such as patent law?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: two minutes

There are many lawyers with science backgrounds out there, working in a range of legal practice areas. As you’ve 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 doesn’t limit you to IP – your skills are transferable to many different areas of law.

It’s 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 can gain (eg, 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’ll 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 several firms. But equally, the analytical skills and other competencies demonstrated by your degree are widely applicable to non-scientific areas of law, too.

Read LCN’s guide to a career in law for non-law students.

Concentrate on demonstrating your dedication to the legal profession. Think how to explain why, after completing a science degree, you want to practise law. List the skills you’ve developed that will enhance your legal career. Think about what you can offer a law firm. So long as you can demonstrate that you’re a good candidate, your background will not be a stumbling block to success.

Head to our dedicated Non-law student hub, sponsored by Shoosmiths, for more information and advice about converting to law.