A career in law is an appealing option for many students deciding on what to study at university.
It’s also seriously worth considering if you’re looking for apprenticeship opportunity, thanks to the recent introduction of legal apprenticeships.
Whether you’re considering studying law to ultimately become a legal apprentice, solicitor, barrister, paralegal or chartered legal executive – or if you’re still undecided – we have all the information you need to get ahead!
Many people study law because of the career options available to them, the prestige of the profession, and a desire to make a difference in society. Legal professionals are highly respected and have many transferable skills, making those with legal qualifications attractive to many employers.
You should study law at A-Level if you have plans to pursue a law degree at university and get into the legal profession as a career. A-Levels provide a fascinating introduction to law, and offer a route to university to study law at degree-level. Many people study law at A-Level to progress to university and continue their studies.
If you want to tackle the social or environmental challenges faced by society, studying law gives you the power to help deal with these issues. You will gain valuable skills and knowledge that you can use to help people from all walks of life.
The key reason to study law is to learn how the legal system works and how laws are made. If you plan to pursue a career in the legal profession, understanding the law helps you to give valuable legal advice to people when they need it most.
It is also important to study law to gain knowledge that will help you master critical thinking, strong reasoning and analytical skills – attributes that are essential for legal professionals. Studying law will give you the ability to analyse both sides of complex situations and pursue the best solution based on strong reasoning and critical thinking.
Studying law is equally important for understanding the duties and responsibilities that come with being a legal professional. You will need to be able to communicate clearly and decisively on several different levels, and studying law will empower you to develop an ability to present and argue cases on the basis of evidence.
A degree-level university course is an effective way to study law and expand your knowledge of the legal system and how it works. The study of law at degree-level can also open doors to work experience opportunities, giving you the option to combine your studies and gain practical experience of working in a busy law firm.
Such experience can be added to your CV, making you more attractive to employers. Plus, working in and studying law will better position you to decide if a career in the legal profession is right for you.
A law degree also carries weight in non-legal professions. For example, a degree-level legal qualification is valued in civil service, teaching, politics, advertising, marketing and PR, banking, finance and accountancy and more.
For certain careers in the legal sector, a law degree is very useful. Some examples include:
Most degree-level university courses in law are taught by current or former legal professionals, representing an opportunity for you to learn from those who are, and have served, on the frontline of the legal system.
Studying a law degree is also an opportunity to experience university life and network with a potentially new generation of legal professionals.
University offers flexible ways to study law. Undergraduate courses at university include a BA (Hons) Degree in Law or an LLB Law Degree. Some universities offer an accelerated LLB Law Degree, which can be completed in two years rather than three.
If you want to purely study law at university, the LLB Law Degree consists of seven core modules focused entirely on law that you must take to obtain a ‘qualifying law’ degree.
As a qualifying law degree, the LLB Law allows you to move straight to the next step in your legal studies, the LPC or SQE for solicitors or Bar Course for barristers – without having to do a GDL conversion course beforehand.
Unlike the LLB Law, a BA in Law is not a qualifying law degree, but gives you flexibility over what you can study. If you study for a BA in Law you will have the option to substitute some of your modules for non-law subjects.
The key difference between a BA in Law and the LLB Degree is that the BA will not usually enable you to practice or qualify as a solicitor or barrister through the traditional route. This means that you will have to complete a GDL course – otherwise known as the law conversion course.
If you’re already a graduate with a BA in a subject not related to law, you can convert to law via the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
If you want to become a barrister, then you should study law at university as you will have to complete either a:
Qualifying law degree (with 2:2 (hons) as a minimum); or
A non-law degree (with 2:2 (hons) as a minimum) and a law conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)
Getting into law is not conditional on going to university. If higher education is not for you, then there are several options you can pursue, including:
Amid rising university costs, a legal apprenticeship offers a direct route into law firms, enabling you to combine study and work. This will help you to gain experience, and give you the opportunity to develop your skills, build your commercial awareness and increase your legal knowledge across several areas of law.
Legal apprenticeships have been developed by a high profile panel of law firms as part of a government initiative to remove barriers to widen access to law careers and remove the financial barriers associated with higher education.
The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) have each advised the government on legal apprenticeships.
Several legal apprenticeships are currently available, including:
Most legal apprenticeships will require you to have:
If you want to become a solicitor, a level 6 or level 7 apprenticeship is the equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. While you don’t need a degree to sit the Solicitors’ Qualifying Exam (SQE), introduced in 2021, a level 6 or level 7 apprenticeship means you will be admitted as a solicitor if you pass the two stages of the SQE.
If an apprenticeship doesn’t appeal to you, a CILEx Professional Qualification (CPQ) is another route to becoming a lawyer.
CILEx is a professional association and governing body for more than 21,000 Chartered Legal Executive Lawyers, other legal practitioners and paralegals. CILEx offers training and a professional qualification for specialist lawyers.
The CILEx Professional Qualification (CPQ) provides three levels of qualification:
To join CILEx, you must have at least four GCSEs (including English) or qualifications of the same value. You will need to pass exams to qualify as a member and then as a CILEx fellow. You will also need to be in a CILEx-approved job in law.
As a CILEx qualified lawyer, you could become a:
You should consider a CPQ if you want to specialise in a specific area of law. Unlike solicitors and barristers, who qualify as generalists and only begin to specialise post-qualification, the structure of CPQ means that as a CILEx Lawyer, you will qualify with practice rights in at least one specialist area of law.
If you do not plan to go to university to study law, you can enter the legal profession via a law job that does not require a university degree. There are several job roles in law that do not require a university degree, including:
You should consider a job in law that doesn’t require a university degree as a means of gaining experience in a legal environment. It’s an opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills, plus it offers the potential to build a successful legal career by working your way up.
A law degree is a gateway to becoming a solicitor, a barrister and other careers specific to law.
Equally, there are alternative career options you could pursue with a law degree if you don’t want to work as a lawyer. For example:
The list goes on, and having a legal background is extremely useful for a wide-range of careers.
Choosing law, whether to study or pursue a career, requires commitment, motivation and resilience.
Law as a career comes with many benefits, including:
Earning potential – Legal professionals are among the highest paid in the world. Pursuing a career in law is an opportunity to reach a level where you could earn well above the national average.
Intellectual ability – The top legal professionals are analytically-minded, focused and highly intellectual. A career in law is an opportunity to unlock your creative, linear, logical, categorical and rational thought processes each and every day.
Varied career – There are many specialities that you can focus your law career on. Criminal law, family law, environmental law, tax law and corporate law are just some of the options.
Helping others – There are a lot of personal benefits attached to choosing law as a career, but you will have a unique opportunity to help individuals, communities, groups and organisations. You can make a real difference in people’s lives when you choose law as a career.
If the jury is still out on whether you want to study law, take our two-minute quiz to find out which LLB law degree university module you are.
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