The Beginner's Guide to a Career in Law 2021

Should I go to university or try one of the new routes, such as a legal apprenticeship? Over the past couple of years,

Why are work placement schemes so important? Getting work experience at law firms is essential. Work

placement/vacation schemes (usually run during university holidays) are a good place to start; they provide an opportunity for you to find out about not only the law, but also individual firms. Firms increasingly rely on extended work placement schemes to select which candidates they want to take on as trainees, so getting on a scheme is a great chance to impress and earn the offer of a training contract.

the chance to join the legal profession as a legal apprentice has become a real option to launch a career in law. Apprentices join firms as school leavers and work in roles similar to that of a paralegal, while receiving on-the-job training that takes them towards a formal qualification. Solicitor apprenticeships also allow those with A levels to qualify as a solicitor without going to university. See the ‘Apprenticeships’ section on p6 for more detail and our companion publication, The Law Apprenticeships Guide 2021 .

Do law firms prefer candidates to have a law degree? Most firms are looking to recruit a

How do I go about getting legal work experience? Work placement schemes are a great way to learn more about the

balance of law and non-law graduates – in fact, roughly half of all solicitors are from non-law backgrounds. Studying another subject at university may also help to make you a more well-rounded individual. This means that if you have a burning desire to study English literature, but think you might want a career as a lawyer, it’s fine to do English at uni and complete a law conversion (often called the Graduate Diploma in Law – GDL – but course names may differ between universities). This postgraduate course squeezes the seven foundations of legal knowledge into one year. You then join the law graduates and do either the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar course, followed by a training contract in a law firm or a pupillage in a set of chambers. But note: most firms do favour traditional academic subjects (eg, history or sciences) over more modern options (eg, media studies or drama).

profession and many firms run schemes specifically for first years. You can get a comprehensive list of firm schemes on LawCareers.Net’s work placement deadlines page. But you are not restricted to these structured programmes – you could get a day or two shadowing a trainee or lawyer simply by writing speculatively to firms/chambers you’re interested in or which are local to you. You should also get involved with university pro bono schemes or legal advice centres. Even if you’re stuffing envelopes or answering phones, it’s all a valuable introduction to the types of work and client interactions that lawyers are involved with every day.

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