“Oh so you’re studying law… do you want to be a solicitor or barrister then?” that’s usually how a conversation tends to go when you tell people you are a law student. Then comes the awkward admission that you don’t actually want to pursue either of those options that many think are the only options for a law student. The reality is that a law degree does not limit you to those two options, and in fact, a law degree opens doors to countless careers. And there is no shame in deciding that becoming a solicitor or barrister is not for you.
When I made the decision to study law, it was always the plan that I would go on to become a barrister or a solicitor. I completed work experience at barrister chambers, and at a solicitor’s firm, and in that moment, I fully envisioned myself stepping into this world once I had completed my degree. However not long into my degree it became apparent that this was not the career I wanted to pursue nor was it one that would fulfil me, and most importantly, make me happy. But my mind was conflicted as I was thoroughly enjoying the course. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that involved the law in some way or was similar to the law – but I did not want to become a solicitor or barrister. It was only when I came to this realisation that I began to explore the endless possibilities that my law degree could lead to.
Once I began exploring what my options were post-degree it became clear that there was an abundance of careers – from teaching, to working in the police, there is so many different careers that studying law opens a door to. And I realised that my panic once realising I didn’t want to be a solicitor or barrister was completely unjustified, I just didn’t know it at the time.
The particular path I find myself going down is the Civil Service. Working closely with people, and also the government is a truly exciting prospect, and a law degree sets you up perfectly for it! There is even a graduate scheme (The Civil Service Fast Stream) which you can find more about on their website. But if like me, a graduate scheme is not what you are looking for, you can simply apply for a job there and work your way up. An alternative to the Civil Service is also working for local governments, with the NGDP being another graduate scheme you may wish to consider.
Another option that spreads wide in scope is the Police. There are numerous jobs in the Police that would be perfect for a law student. Similarly, if you wanted to steer closer to a job similar to a solicitor or barrister without actually being one, going into arbitration and mediation is something you could consider. The final career option I am going to mention – but certainly not the final career option, is teaching. Whether in primary school, secondary school, college or even if you go on to lecture Law – teaching is a great option.
As I have stated, this is not by any means an exhausted list of careers options away from becoming a solicitor or barrister. There are endless opportunities, whether you wish to utilise your law degree, or even if you want to do something completely unrelated to law! My advice would to be to do your own research, attend careers events, and speak to the careers advisor or your tutor if you have any concerns!
It can feel quite strange whilst all your friends are applying for vacation schemes and training contracts, whilst you aren’t. And you can also question what you’re even doing here studying law if you don’t want to practice law. But it is important to remember that they are not the only career options. Do not feel pressured to enter a world, pursuing a career that makes you unhappy just because it’s what you think you should be doing, and what everyone else is doing. Prioritise yourself, and what is going to make you happy.
In summary, a law degree is a fantastic degree to have, and it opens to many doors – do not feel stressed if you do not want to become a solicitor or barrister – they are certainly not your only options!