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.

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Jobs and salaries

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.

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Once qualified, jobs within the legal profession vary according to what type of law you are interested in, for example:

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.

Routes and qualifications

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'.

How do you become a will writer? There are three organisatons that provide you with the right information:

Funding and support

Find out about some of the schemes that have been set up to support people into a career in law. Funding is also available in the form of training contracts.

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.

If you plan to study law at university, check out the pages on student finance from, and/or contact the funding or careers departments of the organisations you are considering training with.

What’s it really like working in this sector?

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.

How many jobs are there in this sector?

  • 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.

Location, location, location 

  • 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.

Will a career in this sector suit me?

  • 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.