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If you’re a law student or graduate and you’re having second thoughts about whether you want to work as a solicitor or barrister there are plenty of career paths open to you.

Whether you’re interested in a career that will make direct use of your legal knowledge or want to change direction and work in a different industry, this guide is for you.

It should help you think about the skills you have, the jobs they can be applied to, and the options available.

Skills for your CV

Some of the skills you will have picked up include:

  • communication skills
  • ability to state a case (orally as well as in writing)
  • good analytical skills
  • problem solving skills
  • ability to see the bigger picture
  • assimilation of facts
  • self-management
  • precise expression (especially in writing)

Job roles and career areas you could work in

Alternative career areas that are popular with law graduates include finance, marketing and HR.

The skills developed through studying for a law degree would be of use in the following job roles, though further qualifications or training would be required:

If you want to pursue a career in law after your degree, our advice on the difference between solicitors and barristers explains the key choice you have to make and the steps to take next.

Our advice on twelve jobs you can do with a law degree gives you more detail and insights into your options.

What do law graduates go on to do?

Here’s what law graduates who finished their degrees in 2018 were doing around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment 56
Part-time employment 6
Voluntary or unpaid work 2
Working and studying 12
Further study 11
Unemployed 6

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Key areas of employment for fresh law graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2018 law graduates around fifteen months after graduation, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Areas of employment Percentage
Professional, scientific and technical 53
Public administration and defence 8
Wholesale and retail trade 6
Education 5
Human health and social work 5

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Which careers attract law students?

Working as a solicitor was the most popular career choice for law students identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Trendence UK, a research business owned by the same company as TARGETjobs. Just over three-quarters (76.1%) of law students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area, while 56.2% said they were interested in careers as barristers. The most popular careers for law students were as follows:

Career Percentage
Law – solicitors 76.1% expressed an interest
Law – barristers 56.2
Accounting and financial management 1.7
Hospitality, leisure and tourism 1.4
Consulting 1.3

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

Famous people with law degrees

If none of those careers are for you, don’t worry. Think about what the world might have lost if these people had gone down a different degree path:

  • Nicola Sturgeon – originally became a solicitor after graduating but then moved into politics, eventually becoming first minister of Scotland.
  • Harper Lee – author of To Kill a Mockingbird, featuring fictional lawyer Atticus Finch.
  • Rebel Wilson – plays the role of student a cappella singer Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect films, and was once a student in real life: she has a Bachelor of Laws degree.
  • Jon Snow – journalist and Channel 4 presenter… not the Game of Thrones character.
  • Hilary Mantel – author of Wolf Hall, a novel about the Tudor lawyer Thomas Cromwell.
  • Gerard Butler – studied at the University of Glasgow and initially began to train as a lawyer before becoming an actor.

Supported by

This describes editorially independent and objective content, written and edited by the GTI content team, with which the organisation would like to be associated and has provided some funding in order to be so. Any external contributors featuring in the article are independent from the supporter organisation and contributions are in line with our non-advertorial policy.

Advertising feature by

This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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