Sunday, May 28

Where can a Law degree take me? Alternate Career Paths: Part One

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For students who are unsure of what do after graduation, university can be a stressful experience. If you don’t immediately want to become a solicitor or a barrister, then the road to employment can be daunting. However, the great thing about studying law is that there are a wealth of other legal careers available that may excite or interest you. Here are 5 of the top alternative legal careers, which students can follow upon graduation.

In-house legal work

For the more practical, business-minded law student, the possibility of working in-house for a company could be the ticket to an exciting legal career. In-house lawyers are situated in the corporate field, catering to the legal needs of the enterprise which employs them. Companies who need in-house lawyers range from telecoms giants to clothes manufacturers, to football teams; and lawyers will need to be flexible to the requirements of their organisation. To begin a career in-house, students will need to qualify as a lawyer, yet some companies offer in-house training contracts. Once qualified, the role allows a lawyer to be on the cutting edge of business practice, whilst retaining the practical application of the law.

International and European law

In an increasingly globalised world, legal practice regularly extends beyond borders. The internationally minded law student would do well to consider a career in international law, focussing on the laws and institutions which regulate the international community. Whilst Brexit is likely to limit access to the European institutions; the world is still full of places for graduates with an international focus to work. There are various routes into this field, but most require an LLM in international law or a related field. After the masters, graduates can search for work in institutions such as the UN, ICC or WTO. Further roles as lawyers, advocates and legal advisors to NGOs around the world mean that despite significant competition, there are many jobs for international lawyers.

Human Rights

Similar to a career path in international law, those disillusioned with the private sector may be attracted to a career in human rights. Human rights workers defend the interests of victims who have suffered across the world, through advocacy and strategic litigation. The work is notoriously poorly paid, yet the benefits of helping those in need often outweigh this. Again, a master’s degree may be required, and voluntary work and internships are highly regarded by employers. Upon completion, a graduate can follow a career in international civil society, working for NGOs such as Amnesty International to uphold human rights across the globe.

Academia

A student with a passion for research and a love of the university environment should consider a career as an academic. Academics do much more than just lecture students; they push the boundaries of the law through their research. Those who wish to pursue a career in academia must be self-motivated and have an ability to devote themselves to one particular area of law. Unfortunately, a master’s degree and a PHD is a minimum requirement to qualify, which takes at least five years. Nevertheless, once a member of a university faculty, legal academics will split their time between teaching, researching and most likely providing expert advice for organisations outside of the university.

Paralegals

Finally, law graduates are increasingly taking up roles as paralegals. Paralegals are primarily legal assistants, a phenomenon borrowed from the American legal culture. The job provides the chance to be involved in practical legal work, without providing legal advice to customers. An interesting career in its own right, paralegal jobs are increasingly being used by graduates to gain experience before applying for a training contract. Law graduates are the ideal candidate for a paralegal job, and it is often a good way to get your foot into the legal world, without committing to long-term training contract or pupillage.

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About Author

Tom is a graduate in Law and Criminology with a First Class Honours from the University of Sheffield, and has been writing with Legal Loop since November 2015. He has an interest in International and European Law, and is currently studying an LLM in Advanced studies in Public International Law, specialising in Peace, Justice and Development at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

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