level) mean that it is not uncommon for individuals to end upwith debts of well over £45,000. Before you rack up this kind of bill, be realistic about your job prospects. And don’t forget that upcoming changes to theway solicitors and barristers qualifywill affect the costs of pursuing this career. There’smore on this in the “Postgraduate training” section. Enthusiasm for dressing up Do you like wearing gowns and wigs? Do you feel that panto should be staged all year round? The Bar values tradition above virtually any calling and the recognisable outfits reflect this. Solicitors’ dress is, by contrast, dull, dull, dull (even on Fridays).
be. Again, the fact that abarristermust regularly standupand talk incourtmeans that thisskill is more important at theBar but it isstill akeypart of practisingasasolicitor. Sociability The lawisasociableprofession inwhichyou canexpect tomeet largenumbersof people fromallwalksof life. Crucially, youmust beable toget onwithyour clientsandother lawyers withwhomyouwork. The legal community is intimateandsometimesclose-knitted; it helps tobeable toget onand interactwellwithothers. Yes, thereare legendarycurmudgeons floating around (particularlyat theBar), but don’t think it’s advisable tobecomeoneof them. Self-reliance You’ll need a fair amount of self-reliance and self-belief whatever you do in law. Solicitors generally have a more definite career structure, but after a certain point it becomes dog eat dog at many firms. As a barrister, though, you are literally on your own: it’s your career and you’ve got to make it happen, make the most of it and deal with the quiet times. If you’re somebody who craves structure and order, then think again. Intellectual curiosity In reality, the area of law in which you end up will be the greatest driver of the intellectual content of your work. However, if you want to be a serious analyst and provider of opinions on heavyweight points of law, then the Bar may be for you. Finances Quite clearly, it is right and proper that a career in the lawshould be available to all. That said, the relevant course fees (especially at postgraduate
Commitment to social justice There remain many commendable
organisations and individuals in the legal profession who work tirelessly to overturn injustice and ensure that right prevails. Many will be involved in something socially useful (ie, pro bono ). If changing the world and helping people’s lives is at the core of your desire to become a lawyer, you will probably want to consider the barrister route and do some thorough research into areas such as human rights and criminal law. Further reading Solicitors – www.lawcareers.net/solicitors Barristers – www.lawcareers.net/barristers In these sections you can read about the day-to-day life and work of solicitors and barristers at various firms and chambers.
Reality check: Thedecision as towhich career suits youbest rests on a number of factors concerning your abilities, temperament and – darewe say it – financial circumstances. Choosewisely.
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BECOMING A LAWYER
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