Do you have a strong sense of what's right and wrong? Interested in helping other people fight their corner? Law is one of the traditional three professions (along with medicine and religion) you can go into, and there are many areas you can specialise in. While law is traditionally something you could only train in at university over many years, there are now other options available. This career will give you a fascinating insight into society and how we relate to each other.
- Jobs and salaries
- Routes and qualifications
- Funding and support
- What’s it really like working in this sector?
- How many jobs are there in this sector?
- Location, location, location
- Will a career in this sector suit me?
You can choose between becoming a lawyer, solicitor, training on the job as a chartered legal executive or one of the other options within the legal sector. Solicitors provide expert legal advice to clients while barristers represent people and organisations in court. Legal executives take on a wide range of roles, from junior to senior qualified lawyers, in all sorts of areas of law.
Paralegals assist law firms in their work. Patent attorneys find out if inventions are new and eligible to be patented; and trust and estate practitioners give advice about inheritance.
Find out more about:
- Becoming a solicitor
- Becoming a barrister
- What do chartered legal executives do
- Becoming a paralegal
- Patent attorneys
- Trust and estate practitioners
Once qualified, jobs within the legal profession vary according to what type of law you are interested in, for example:
- Comparative and international law
- Dispute resolution law - also see the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
- Entertainment law
- Human rights law
- Insurance law
- Maritime law
- Personal injury law
- Will writers
However, these are only a few suggestions and there are many more areas of law.
Find out how much you could earn as a solicitor, or a barrister, and read about the range of salaries available in a legal career in this page from the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).
Take a look at how much you could earn as a paralegal.
You need to have a formal qualification in order to practice law, but it is now possible to learn while you earn (see options below). However not all lawyers are solicitors or barristers and there are also paralegal and legal administrative roles.
Watch this useful video to get an idea of the options available to you: 'Journey of Law'.
- Apprenticeships are available in this sector, and it's great to see these options in what has been until now a fairly exclusive profession.
- Check out CILEx for an alternative route to law, an organisation which has been commended for promoting fair access.
- The Law Society of England and Wales has information on how to qualify.
- The Law Society of Scotland also has more information on how to become a solicitor and career opportunities in Scotland.
- If you want to become a solicitor, information is available on courses and institutions, conversion courses, and the LPC.
- Find out how to become a barrister from the Bar Council.
- The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)
- Society of Will Writers
- The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW)
CILEx students usually earn a salary (usually around £25,000 per annum) by working in a law firm whilst studying an average of one day or two nights a week for four years, either at a local college or university, or via distance learning.
- Sit back and watch our three case study videos for the legal sector.
- Also read Arfana's story, a law student who was the first person to go to university in her family.
- Take a look at The Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law.
- Find out what it's like to be a barrister.
Most people in the legal hours work daytime hours Monday to Friday, but sometimes evening or weekend work may be necessary. This is especially true of solicitors and barristers.
Work is mostly office based though some do spend time in the courts. A number of jobs involve travelling to see clients, the police and other organisations.
- There are approximately 200,00 solicitors in the UK, and around 16,000 barristers.
- Over 7,000 legal executives work in England and Wales.
- Over 50,000 paralegals work in law firms, 450,000 outside of law firms and 1,200 working in advisory firms.
- 37% of practising solicitors work in London. However most cities in the U.K. will have solicitors offices.
- Government Legal Service positions are in London and the Crown Prosecution service employs barristers and solicitors throughout England and Wales.
- The same is true of Northern Ireland where work is available throughout but mostly concentrated in Belfast.
- If you're passionate about what's right and wrong in society, then the answer is probably yes.
- You need to be prepared to work hard and put in the extra hours when needs be.
- Excellent communication skills are a must.