Studying law and not going to be a lawyer? What now?

Not all law students will go on to become professional lawyers. That’s no surprise. Law is a semi-vocational degree and nothing says that if you study law you need to become a solicitor or barrister. Law teaches you some really useful skills which should stand you in good stead in the job market, you just need to decide what you want to do.

What options are there?

If you want a job in a graduate scheme then you’ll be delighted to know that most jobs don’t specify any particular degree subject. Your options are really wide, accountancy, human resources, public relations, retail, accountancy, banking. I could go on…. What might appeal to you?

Know yourself!


enjoying work300You might want to start by exploring your own interests and aspirations. What are you looking for in a job? Academic challenge? Lots of money? Do you want to deal with people? How about location, where do you want to work? Perhaps prestige is important to you, be clear what you think is prestigious.  Different people see prestige in different ways. Did you want to help people? Be honest! There’s no shame if helping folks doesn’t motivate you! It’s good to think about this yourself, but your careers advisor should be able to help you work your way through an exercise like this.

What skills have you got?

Hand with marker writing, Skill concept. White background.

You’ll have developed a wide range of skills from activity outside your academic studies. If you’ve worked in any customer facing role you’ll have great people skills and you can probably handle disputes and do a bit of marketing. If you’ve pitched into university life you’ll have developed your ability to work in a team and learnt first-hand about personal organisation and time management. So what about the degree? Lawyers learn to be analytical, to question what’s before them. You can probably write clearly and concisely. Participation in seminars will have taught you excellent verbal communication skills and the ability to put across an argument. You are probably very logical and good at “cutting to the chase”. You can work out what’s relevant and what’s not. It’s a great set of skills and it’ll be down to you to “sell” this package to a potential employer.

Where next?

Once you have thought about your aspirations and motivation you’ll be ready to start looking at possible jobs. Most graduate schemes open for applications during the summer so it’s the perfect time to look around. You might start with the Times Top 100 Graduate Schemes and the Guardian top 300 Graduate Schemes.  Prospects planner can also be very useful. Once you have identified one or two sectors which look interesting you can get going on finding prospective employers and think about getting some applications in.

How to succeed in your applications

  1. early bird300Get your application in early. Most employers recruit on a rolling basis and start filling vacancies as soon as applications come in. The longer you wait before applying, the greater the competition you’ll face to get to an assessment centre.
  2. Do your research into the employer. Know what skills they are looking for and show that you have them. Give evidence of where you acquired the skills.
  3. Answer the question asked. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you’re doing an exam you’re going to underperform if you don’t answer the question asked, rather than the one you hoped you’d be asked. It’s just the same with jobs! Keep looking back to see if you’ve actually answered the question and if not, start again. Don’t try to tweak an answer which isn’t really working.
  4. Proof read your work and be accurate. If you’ve made lots of mistakes you just look sloppy.
  5. Check to see if the employer is going to expect you to do psychometric tests and start practising before you put in your application. Sometimes you will be sent test links very quickly after applying and it won’t give you long to get to grips with how to succeed.
  6. Follow the news in the sector area you’ve chosen. You need to know what’s going on. Look at relevant professional and trade websites and follow national and international news which looks as if it might affect your chosen job field.
  7. I am not sure I should be putting this last! Show passion and motivation to do the job. If you look as if you don’t care much you’re not going to be selected.

And remember.

The careers service is still around over the summer and it may be easier to get an appointment for help over the vacation period rather than after term has started.

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