So you’ve read law at University because you thought you wanted to be a lawyer? And now when it comes to it, you’re not so sure? Is this a disaster? A waste of three years of your life? No. Absolutely not. You’ve done a highly regarded academic degree which teaches you a whole raft of skills which are going to make you an employable graduate. Now’s the time to think about what you really want to do.
So what skills does law teach you?
You have to have a disciplined approach to looking at a set of facts and identifying what laws might apply to them . (A good memory is quite useful too!) Crucially you have to be able to pull out what is relevant and what is not. You’ll be someone who can see the proverbial wood and you won’t be blundering around from tree to tree! This is going to make you good at strategy and planning. These are key graduate skills and become very important as you move into more senior management.
Argument and Negotiation
You’re able to argue your point of view and justify why you say particular laws apply to a given set of circumstances and indeed why others are not applicable. You might have to fight your corner in seminars or even in the ever popular mooting or negotiation exercises. You need to know when to give way too, perhaps to a better argument or to those with superior knowledge! If you’ve watched an episode or two of The Apprentice then you’ll know how few people can negotiate effectively, and how far ahead of the pack you are. You’ll also know that Lord Sugar prizes those who can negotiate, he’s not alone in that!
Marketing and Persuasion
You often have to persuade when you’re negotiating, this translates really well into marketing and selling careers. These often involve excellent interpersonal skills and the need to build relationships. Lawyers are often known for being pretty chatty. As a law student you’re always looking at words and thinking about precisely what they mean. You have to learn to craft your language to be very specific. If you’re running marketing campaigns that ability to craft language is going to come in pretty handy, and what about a career in PR? If ever you need to get the words right it’s in PR. Look at how Donald J Trump made his language resonate with his target audience. The refrain “Lock her up” might not have appealed to you, it worked for him!
Accuracy and attention to detail
The study of law demands that you pay attention to detail. If you’re doing a property law question involving various pieces of land, you do need to have a handle on which one has the restrictive covenants against it, and which enjoys the easements! (That may have been my downfall with Property Law now that I come to think about it). That accuracy is also valued by employers who generally want their grads to be “safe pairs of hands”. You can’t expect to be given responsibility if you can’t be trusted to get things right. Your law degree will give employers comfort and make you stand out from the opposition.
So where can you use all these wonderful skills?
In so many different jobs. If you’re at Warwick come along on Wednesday to our alumni evening and hear about working in the Civil Service, in retail management, in journalism, in the police force, in academia, in accountancy and in company secretarial roles (that’s a highly respected graduate profession – not the person who does the typing!) You might hear about just the thing for you.
There’s a whole world outside the legal profession and it’s Friday, I’m working from home and this is the view from my window. I wouldn’t get that in a City law firm would I?