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The Oracle

Careers options for law graduates

updated on 28 April 2020

Dear Oracle

I’m about to graduate from my law degree but don’t want to work at a law firm. What are my options?

The Oracle replies

Having a law degree opens up a range of possible careers, not just the traditional law firm route. Going in-house to work as a lawyer for a company or public sector organisation is one option (or rather, one set of varied options). Many companies have in-house legal teams to handle their day-to-day matters and increasingly only use law firms for specialist advice. Lawyers also work across the public sector, for example, for government departments or NHS trusts.

More and more companies are offering in-house training contracts, from the BBC to Vodafone, so it is possible to go straight from your LPC into your in-house career.

See the Law Society’s in-house division for more information and guidance. And check LawCareers.Net’s jobs board for in-house positions to apply to, as well as other legal job boards.

But in house is not the only option – there are many other kinds of career that you can pursue with your legal qualifications. LawCareers.Net’s alternative careers section has information about a range of careers in which legal qualifications and experience are valuable, including in the Crown Prosecution ServiceGovernment Legal Profession, in a law centre or as a licensed conveyancer.

Careers in finance, the civil service or insurance are all possible with a legal background. And not surprisingly, we would put in a word for legal publishing – some of us at LawCareers.Net and our sister company Lexology have law degrees, but realised at some point that we didn’t actually want to practise.

So many skills developed as a trainee will be transferable to all kinds of positions and industries – commercial awareness, client networking, marketing – so consider what it is about your job that you really enjoy. Talking to clients? Learning about different industries? Researching points of law? Business development? Identify what you look forward to doing during your working day and think about the types of job beyond law that may offer the same stimulus and require your experience and expertise.

HR is also a possibility – some of the graduate recruiters that we talk to started out as lawyers. Many got to the point of being a trainee or a few years post-qualification before realising that recruitment (particularly graduate recruitment) within a law firm was what really interested them. Their expertise, having sat on the other side of the recruiting desk, is invaluable when it comes to recruiting and guiding the next generation of lawyers.

See LawCareers.Net’s alternative careers section for information on career paths outside the law for candidates with legal qualifications.