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THE UK: Subject Guides

Law careers

Law is a highly desirable career path, given both its honourable reputation and the financial rewards. find out more about this exciting career path.

Crime scene
1971

Law is a highly desirable career path, given both its honourable reputation and the financial rewards. Before deciding which firms to apply to for training contracts, graduates are advised to do at least one period of vacation work. This gives them an insight into the firm, as well as a chance to shine, and allows the firm to assess their prospects and suitability as a lawyer. If you decide a career as a lawyer isn't for you after all, your law degree will still give you the skills to go into almost any other area, including business and management roles

Thinking of working in the law field? Here are a few options for you:


Barrister

Barristers give specialist legal advice to solicitors and other professional clients, and represent individuals and organisations in court at tribunals or public enquiries.

Qualifying as a barrister requires following up your law degree with a Bar Vocational Course (BVC), which runs for one year, or two years if undertaken on a part-time basis. You will need to be admitted to one of the four Inns of Court before registration on the BVC. There is always great competition for places but, once you are there, the training is excellent.

In the UK, working for one to two years as a pupil is the final stage of qualification for the Bar. During pupillage, students gain practical training under the supervision of an experienced barrister. Training used to be unpaid, but now the law firm is obliged to fund graduates throughout the pupillage. Only then are students qualified to practise law.

Salary 
Within five years of being called to the bar, a self-employed barrister's earnings can sit anywhere between £40,000 and £200,000. Salaries for employed barristers again vary widely, ranging from £25,000 to £130,000. The ratio of self-employed to employed barristers is currently around 4:1. A top Queen's Counsel (QC) can earn upwards of a million pounds a year.

The Bar Council
 


Solicitor

Solicitors advise clients about the law, and act on their behalf in legal matters. Your clients could be individuals, groups of people, companies or public organisations. Most solicitors choose to specialise in a particular area of law, such as property, family or employment law.

To become solicitors, law graduates must take the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which lasts for one year (two years part time). They then complete two years on a training contract, sometimes known as 'articles'. Under the contract, the trainee traditionally works in four different areas of law, known as 'seats', for six months each, then completes a professional skills course before acceptance onto the Law Society's roll of solicitors.

Salary 
A solicitor's salary depends on the type of client and the size and location of the firm that employs them. The Solicitors Regulation Authority currently recommends a minimum trainee starting salary of £16,650 a year outside London, and this can rise to over £150,000 a year for a partner in a large firm or a head of an in-house legal department.

Solicitors Regulation Authority
 


Paralegal

Paralegals carry out legal work, although they are not fully qualified solicitors or barristers. Employed by law firms, civil or criminal courts, private companies or the public or not-for-profit sector, paralegals prepare legal documents, carry out research, interview clients and witnesses and attend court, as well as typing, filing and other general clerical tasks. With further experience, they might eventually carry out most of the work that a solicitor does.

Some employers will prefer you to have a law degree, and some may even ask for the solicitor's Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the barrister's Bar Vocational Course (BVC). Many law graduates take jobs as paralegals if they have not yet found a solicitor's training contract or barrister's pupillage.

Salary
Starting salaries for paralegals are normally between £16,000 and £25,000 a year, and can rise to up £40,000 with experience. Top salaries in large law firms can reach £70,000 a year.

Institute of Paralegals
National Association of Licensed Paralegals



Some other law-related career paths:

Coroner
Court Legal Adviser
Court Reporter
Crown Prosecutor
Family Mediator
Immigration Officer
Legal Executive
Patent Attorney
Police Officer
Probation Officer
Victim Care Officer
Welfare Rights Officer 



Related Articles:

Studying law in the UK

Law: The Reality of Studying and working

 

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