Using your science degree in a law career, written by Taylor Wessing

We spoke with Taylor Wessing’s graduate recruitment team, Sarah Harte and Lydia Block, about the benefits of a science background in law. You don’t need an undergraduate degree in law to qualify as a lawyer and your logical reasoning skills will be popular with employers. What’s more, there are a number of specialisms you could enter that involve working with clients in the science and technology sectors – your background will be particularly useful if you choose this route.

The link between law and science may not be an obvious one. Why do scientists make good lawyers?

Scientists have a huge range of skills that can be transferred into the legal profession. Their ability to communicate and present, problem solve, write detailed and factually correct reports and their ability to extensively research an issue and come up with an evidence-based recommendation, all go hand in hand with what lawyers do on a daily basis. Additionally, scientists’ logical thinking, problem solving skills and ability to plan, provide the ideal platform for a successful transition into law.

What does your firm’s focus on the science and technology sectors mean for trainees and their training contract experience?

Taylor Wessing's focus on tomorrow's industries, such as life sciences and technology, means that trainees will get the chance to work in emerging sectors, presenting a real opportunity to get to the heart of new and in-flux areas of the law. Being one of our four key international industry focuses, our Life Science and Pharma sector's objective is to be a market-leading one-stop shop for pan-European and Asia Pacific legal advice for life sciences companies. Through our six-month seat rotations, trainees will have an opportunity to get involved and make an impact in this area of great strategic importance within the firm.

How can non-law students best research the legal profession? How can they show their commitment to the career choice when they haven’t necessarily been exposed to university law societies, law clinics and mooting events?

Non-law students can show their commitment to pursuing a career within the industry in a number of ways. Most law firms will hold open days and insight days specifically targeted at students from a non-legal background. This is a chance to spend some time with a prospective firm, finding out the opportunities available to you, understanding the application process and experiencing the company culture. Non-law students are also able to apply for most summer vacation schemes, on which they are automatically considered for training contract positions. Additionally, there are a number of online publications available to students which give an insight into the different law firms, their industry focus, trainee reviews and much more information to help any non-law students to make an informed judgement about firms that interest them.

Are non-law graduates at a disadvantage when applying for training contracts?

Absolutely not. Our training contracts are open to both graduates with law and non-law backgrounds; we welcome a diverse range of backgrounds into Taylor Wessing, as this helps ensure we are able to meet and exceed our clients’ needs, spanning across many different industry sectors. In fact, we have found that direct applications to our training contract are often a 50-50 split between law and non-law students, leading to a similar split in offers subsequently made. If you have done something different, we want to know about it!

What do they bring to the firm?

Non-law graduates undoubtedly bring a different perspective to the firm – our broad client base means there are very few backgrounds not relevant to a role at Taylor Wessing! Non-law graduates often display a defined commercial awareness and knowledge base of their subject area: invaluable understanding to transfer to our clients. Non-lawyers tend to display high levels of tenacity, resilience and commitment; completing an undergraduate degree, followed by the GDL and LPC is certainly no mean feat!

How do clients benefit from dealing with lawyers from a science background?

Our client base within life sciences ranges from small biotech companies to global pharmaceutical giants – clients appreciate lawyers who are able adapt to changing environments, utilising their finely honed critical and evaluative thinking skills in order to meet their needs. Additionally, scientists often have a good work ethic, derived from their busy university schedules. This places an amount of confidence that the lawyer will have the stamina to act as a trusted advisor for the client, something we are seeing increasing amounts of at Taylor Wessing.

Why is academic ability a must for future trainees, no matter what their degree discipline?

Working in the legal sector requires you to demonstrate a high level of academic ability and acumen at all times – dealing with clients with complex issues can be intellectually challenging. Your prospective employer will want to see the evidence that you can handle these challenges – no matter the subject this comes from.

Applications for Taylor Wessing’s open days, first-year insight scheme, summer vacation scheme and training contract are now open. Please visit www.taylorwessing.com/graduate for more information.

Please note this is not TARGETjobs content and written by the employer.

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