I don’t want to work in a law firm – what are the alternatives?
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I'm about to qualify with a small private client firm, but I am not keen to stay on. I would like to explore careers in law outside the mainstream law firm route. What are some of my options?
The Oracle replies
A great alternative to a law firm practice is moving in house. A large number of public sector organisations employ in-house lawyers to handle their legal matters, while in-house opportunities are also on the rise in the private sector as commercial organisations increasingly embrace the benefits of having their own legal teams.
One potential obstacle could be that the areas of law in which you worked over the course of your training contract may not easily fit into an organisation’s in-house requirements. Make sure to visit the Law Society’s in-house division for more information and guidance. Meanwhile, regularly check the LCN Jobs board for in-house positions to apply to, as well as other legal job boards. It’s also worth pointing out that more and more companies are offering in-house training contracts, including the BBC and Vodafone, meaning that it is now possible to go straight from your LPC into your in-house career.
But in house is not the only option – there are many other kinds of career that you can pursue with your legal qualifications, even if you have not done a training contract and qualified as a solicitor. Our Alternative Careers section details a plethora of careers within which you can usefully employ your legal qualifications and experience, including working for the Crown Prosecution Service, Government Legal Profession, in a law centre or as a licensed conveyancer.
In particular, look at the non-law-related positions sections – jobs within finance, the civil service or insurance companies are all within your reach. And not surprisingly, we would put in a word for legal publishing – many of us here at LawCareers.Net and our sister company Lexology have law degrees, but realised at some point that we didn’t actually want to practise. However, we still enjoy a connection to the legal world and are able to use the skills and knowledge learnt from our degrees in a different capacity.
So many skills developed as a trainee will be transferable to all kinds of positions and industries – commercial awareness, client networking, marketing – so it may simply be a case of sitting down and thinking 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.
Finally, we mention HR as a possibility – a significant number 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.