A career in research? Is it for you?

One of the purposes of this blog is to showcase the plethora of work opportunities open to law graduates. Are you thinking about a career in academia or research? Our Head of School, Professor Rebecca Probert shares her experience of research for the Law Commission.

policy-guidelines-practices300“Working for the Law Commission had always been one of my ambitions, and I’ve been lucky enough to do so twice. The first time was just after I finished my degree, as a Research Assistant. More recently I was seconded from Warwick as a specialist advisor on a project to reform the law of marriage.

Indeed, I was so committed to working at the Commission that I even told other prospective employers that this was what I really wanted to do (top tip for interviews: don’t do this!).

Early career research

Working as a Research Assistant was fantastically interesting, as I got to see all of the different stages of a research project. The initial exploratory research involved a lot more trips to the library than would be necessary today – relatively little was available online then! But the tasks of writing papers on specific points, meeting with various interest groups, and drafting sections of the consultation paper or report were pretty much the same as for today’s RAs. One big project was launched just after I started, so I had to field lots of queries from the media and lawyers. Another was being debated in Parliament, so I got to see how recommendations translated into an actual Act. If you enjoy detailed research and are interested in exploring the policy dimension of law then I highly recommend applying!

A more senior role

rainbow-hands300Going back as a specialist advisor was even better. I had a wonderful team to work with and could focus much more on the policy dimension. We met with lots of different religious groups responsible for solemnising marriages, as well as other organisations and individuals campaigning for reform. We even got invited to a number of weddings, so we could see how the law actually worked in practice. While we are still waiting to hear whether the full project will go ahead, we did at least have the satisfaction of seeing the scoping paper praised in Parliament.

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