Working in the legal sector doesn’t automatically mean becoming a solicitor or a barrister. Here are four careers in law that you may not have considered.
Legal Executive Career
The role of a legal executive is similar to that of a solicitor and a chartered legal executive is a lawyer. One difference is that legal executives specialise in one area of law such as civil litigation, criminal litigation or perhaps family law. To find out more about areas of specialism visit the chartered institute of legal executives’ website.
The day to day work of a legal executive might include: assisting solicitors, giving legal advice, researching and preparing cases, writing legal documents, High Court or county court work, dealing with legal matters such as writing wills, property conveyancing, custody cases and divorce settlements, and litigation.
Becoming a legal executive
If you are interested in a career as a legal executive there are several routes into this. You could study for a law degree and then take a fast track diploma, you could study for a non-law degree, take the GDL (graduate diploma in law) conversion course and then take the fast track diploma, or, you could undertake a legal apprenticeship.
Like legal executives, paralegals specialist in one area of the law. Whilst a paralegal is not a qualified lawyer, they often carry out a lot of the activities normally associated with a solicitor role.
The work of a paralegal can be broad and may include administrative tasks, research and providing clients with legal information.
Typically a junior paralegal will:
- Prepare legal documents
- Conduct research
- Undertake general office tasks
- Once a paralegal is more experienced they can:
- Interview clients
- Provide clients with legal information
- Handle a caseload
- Attend court
Becoming a paralegal
You do not have to go to university or study for a law degree to become a paralegal. One route into this career in law is through the legal services apprenticeship which is available at both intermediate and higher level.
Legal secretary careers
Administrative support for lawyers, including legal executives is provided by legal secretaries. They are essential to the effective running of any legal firm. Legal secretaries will help draw up court documents and other legal papers, such as wills. As such, although you don’t need to study law as such, there are specific legal secretary qualifications available to study and which many employers would want you to obtain.
Becoming a legal secretary
There are specialist qualifications, such as the legal secretary diploma available if a career in law as a legal secretary is what you fancy. Generally, a good level of education is necessary as it is for any secretarial position and this should include excellent English and communication skills as well as proficiency in computing.
A Career as a researcher for the Law Commission
The Law Commission is the statutory body set up under the Law Commissions Act 1965 to keep the law of England and Wales under review and to recommend reform, by Parliament, where it is needed.
The research assistant role involves a mix of legal research, policy analysis and administrative work. Research assistants will:
- Look at the present law
- Examine commentary from practitioners and academics on the problems with that law
- Conduct comparative research, considering both common law and civil law jurisdictions.
- Look at current court practices or socio-economic research.
- Be closely involved in the preparation and publication of consultation papers.
- Assist with press or other communication work
- Evaluate and analyse the consultation responses.
- Prepare policy papers and reports
Becoming a research assistant in law
Most candidates for the role of research assistant will have a law degree or will hold a combine degree, two thirds of which is in the study of law.
Applications are made after graduating (usually with a minimum of a 2:1 degree) and often after the completion of a post graduate qualification. For full details of the entry requirements for this very specialist role you should look at the document provided by The Law Commission.
Law Careers Events
If you are interested in careers in law, it is a very good idea to visit University Law Fairs. Here you can speak directly with recruiters and representatives of law firms where you can find out what different firms have to offer and pick the brains of those in the know.
Becoming a solicitor
This year saw the very exciting introduction of the solicitor apprenticeship. This is a higher level apprenticeship which is available to those with or without a degree and it is the first time that people have been able to access a career as a solicitor without having to study law at university full time.