Published on July 31, 2020 by Holly Porter

If you’ve just received your A-Level results and realised that you didn’t get into law school, one thing to bear in mind is that not all careers in law actually require a degree. If you’ve missed out on your place at university there’s no need to panic – we’ve got your back and are here to help you think about your other options.

Here are five careers you may not have thought about, or didn’t realise existed, that still allow you to have your legal career without having gone to university!

If you would like to learn more about apprenticeships, read our Legal Apprenticeship guide here:

Legal Apprenticeship Guide

1. Legal Apprentice

If you didn’t get into law school, a legal apprenticeship is a great way to learn the law on the job. It’s a unique experience that gets you employed by a law firm immediately and starts you on the path to becoming a solicitor! Apprenticeships don’t require any UCAS points, just GCSEs with some firms also looking for A-level qualifications. It’s important to note that apprenticeships are very competitive, and aren’t a guaranteed alternative. In order to gain a place on the trailblazer schemes, you have to be able to prove your passion, drive and talent.

Starting salaries range up to £18,000, and there are some great schemes accessible for you such as the Fieldfishers ‘Steps2Success’ scheme. Law apprenticeships are starting to become more recognised in firms, so if you can’t see one advertised online don’t be afraid to show some initiative and approach firms directly to ask if it’s an opportunity they could offer you!

2. Chartered Legal Executive

Becoming a Chartered Legal Executive is an alternative route into a legal career that costs less than a standard UK university degree. CILEx requires four GCSEs including English and an entrance exam to gain a place onto the programme.

What’s great about this route is that you can study and take the exams in your own time, allowing the course to fit flexibly around your life so if you want, you can have a job alongside it! The course allows you to specialise in an area of law, so the everyday work grind is similar to that of a solicitor!

You also have the option to qualify as a solicitor after becoming a ‘Fellow’, most people who go down this route are also normally exempt from training contracts! Definitely a great option to consider.

3. Paralegal

Paralegal work is a great option for your law career if you don’t have a degree. With plenty of opportunities to be in different sized law firms or working as part of an in-house team, being employed as a paralegal allows you to interact with the law and lawyers everyday with a qualified lawyer.

Work varies but can often involve supporting lawyers with client work – missing out on the degree doesn’t sound too bad when you’re straight into this paid legal career! Since you already have your ‘foot through the door’, there is often flexibility to train on the job in the firm you’re in.

4. Legal Secretary

Legal Secretaries are the backbones of most firms and in-house teams. Requiring no legal knowledge but great communication skills – this could be the perfect opportunity for you!

Legal secretaries carry a lot of responsibility and many also have direct access to the board through attending board meetings. These are opportunities many senior partners or management may not be able to access. If responsible and communicative are two words you’d use to describe yourself, check out this role.

5. Usher at Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals

Your local court may also be able to provide you a legal career opportunity if you didn’t get into law school. If hands-on court hearings attract you to law more than sitting in office meetings, an usher role could be the perfect role for you.

Ushers handle the logistics of the court; ranging from ensuring witnesses, defendants and lawyers are all present to prepping the court room for hearings.

The work can vary from being more administrative to rushing around the court, but one thing is for certain, the work will be completely law-related. This may not be the long-term solution for you, but the role could open up some great experience and networking opportunities.

Non-Law Route

If you didn’t get into law school but still want to go to university, there is still a chance to go if you choose the clearing route. After you graduate, if you choose a non-law-related subject, you can do a law conversion course and then that the SQE assessments and qualifying work experience. Following this, you’ll be able to qualify as a solicitor.

If the barrister route is for you, you can do a conversion course followed by the vocational component of bar training and then pupillage. Taking the non-law route will not put you at a disadvantage to your peers. A lot of firms look favourably upon these types of applicants because of the wealth of knowledge they can offer.

Words: Lucy Cole

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