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Alternative careers for Law graduates

If you are a law student who does not want to pursue a legal career, or if you are frustrated at not getting a training contract or pupillage, or if you are unsure of your career options and what you have to offer, or just want to find out about the alternatives, there are many other options to consider.

Amongst many different skills you will have developed the ability to:-

  • Work hard against the pressure of deadlines both alone and in groups
  • Communicate effectively both in writing and orally
  • Assimilate large amounts of detailed written material and make reasoned objective judgements
  • Research and analyse a topic

Some of the careers and jobs which require these skills are:-

Administration

In the private sector this could mean becoming a Company Secretary or less formally, and without the need to gain additional professional qualifications, joining a management trainee scheme with a view to working in general management or finance.

In the public sector it would mean applying to the Civil Service and working in one of 21 government departments in this country or, via the European Fast Stream, in Europe. Particular departments have a strong legal framework. These include HM Revenue and Customs and the Immigration Service and you can find more details about each department in the red files in our Careers Service Library. We have a sector site for the public sector.

There are also opportunities in local authority departments such as trading standards, planning and environmental health. Our public protection security and investigation site offers other suggestions.

Finance

Law graduates are especially attractive for roles in taxation (in chartered accountancy firms or firms of tax consultants). Insurance companies recruit graduates into their underwriting, claims and pensions departments. Investment Banks would recruit those with a legal background into either their corporate finance or research departments or into various regulatory, or "back office", roles. Finance jobs linked to training with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants can be found in many firms across virtually all sectors. All the finance options can be found in our financial services and property sector site.

Commercial Management

Again look at the management trainee schemes aimed at recruiting graduates into large organisations. All organisations, however large, will have a personnel function and where graduates are recruited into the personnel, or human resources department, law graduates are especially useful with their knowledge of contract law. Similar to personnel roles, law graduates can join recruitment consultants as either researchers or consultants managing clients and assignments to locate and hire top professionals. 

Teaching

Law teaching is mainly centred in Further and Higher Education and may require a higher degree or PGCE (FE) or in the case of professional (LPC/BVC) courses a legal professional qualification and experience.

Community Work

This includes social work, the probation service, welfare advice and housing management. At a professional level these careers require experience and further training.

Public Protection, Security and Investigation

There are opportunities in many organisations for those interested in law enforcement. Take a look at our career sector site for Careers in Public Protection, Security and Investigation.

Information Management

There are occasional opportunities to work as information specialists, or librarians, in the law libraries of large solicitors’ firms, in academic libraries and specialist information centres. A further qualification in librarianship will be required by some institutions.

Publishing

Firms of publishers, especially those with legal publications, will employ law graduates as researchers and, for those who are qualified, there are roles in their intellectual property and rights departments.

Any Degree Discipline

The above are just some of the possible careers open to law graduates, or those who qualify and then do not practice. Over 40 per cent of all careers recruit graduates from any discipline and marketing, media, advertising, and IT are all popular. A survey carried out by AGCAS of "1996 Law Graduates who entered Careers other than the Law" is available at the Careers Service. It provides some interesting detail about specific case histories with feedback from graduates who started jobs in the following functions:

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Assistant Statistical Analyst
  • Business Analyst
  • Business Development Manager
  • Finance Representative
  • Financial Services Manager
  • Fund Manager
  • Graduate Management Trainee
  • Graduate Marketing Trainee
  • Human Resources Officer
  • Project Worker
  • Public Notary
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Researcher for a head hunting company
  • Trainee Chartered Accountant
  • Trainee Tax Adviser