What can you do with a law degree

by Barbara Galkowska on Jun 10, 2022

What can you do with a law degree

Studying law allows for developing a broad spectrum of skills and exploring multiple sub-disciplines. Depending on your interests, you can dive deep into specific subjects and experience aspects that truly appeal to you. 

With a law degree, you may not necessarily practice as a lawyer. You may find many other career opportunities outside the courtroom. These may include jobs in business, politics, diplomacy, policy, journalism, or creative industry as, for example, a producer. Law studies will equip you with intellectual strength and a practical approach to the world, will train you in the ability of abstract thinking and practical problem solving, and with these skills finding a profession that interests you and appeals to you should not be a challenge.

Why would one wish to study law?

  1. Diverse practice areas

Studying law one learns about politics, economics, history, criminology, sociology, ethics and even philosophy. A solid background in a variety of disciplines is crucial for understanding how the law works and how it is correlated with all aspects of human life.

If we look at The University of Law, which is one of the UK’s longest-established specialist providers of legal education (tracing its origins to 1876), within undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications the following twenty programmes with different sub-specializations in law are listed:

Corporate Governance, Company Law, International Business Law, International Corporate Governance, International Human Rights, Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, Medical Law and Ethics, Compliance & Regulation, Data Protection and Intellectual Property, Finance Law, Insurance Law, International Arbitration, Mental Health Law, International Energy Law and Environmental Law.

This broad array of sub-specializations is a result of increasing industry segmentation and the growing need for focusing on certain concentrations to become a subject-matter expert. Having solid basic grounds, you can specialize in several niche areas without the necessity of working within just one specialization, especially since these are often correlated.

 

  1. Job safety

Despite economic and social turbulences, certain jobs are always needed. These include doctors, teachers, engineers, but also lawyers. Being a lawyer is one of a few “recession-proof” professions.

Naturally, the latest pandemic affected all industries and the legal profession is no exception. Long-lasting instability and insecure condition of global markets enforced conducting significant employee layoffs just like in any other sector. Increased stress from finding a balance between work and family life, worry about employer’s support, and reduced client access (affecting incomes) were listed as top stress generators among those representing the legal profession (Scharf & Liebenberg, 2021).

On a positive end, as stated in Lawyers Weekly Jobs (2021) in-house lawyers ‘benefited’ from the condition. This is because hiring in-house lawyers is considered cheaper than outsourcing work to an external law firm. As a result, in-house lawyers are a cost-saving measure, which is crucial in recessions and other times of economic uncertainty. Other practice areas listed as the most recession-proof include healthcare, bankruptcy, cybersecurity, and employment law Lawyers Weekly Jobs (2021). 

 

  1. Great earning potential

“Lawyers are among the highest-paid professionals in the legal industry, and most attorneys earn salaries well above the national average” (Kane, 2019).

Naturally, one’s earnings do depend on your chosen specialization, where they are in their career, choice of employment and eventual company size, and finally how successful one is in their profession. Speaking of success, there are certain factors determining success and these include intelligence in interpretation and evaluation of sources, drive, hard work, competitiveness, resilience to stress, creativity - ability to produce creative arguments, etc.

The salary factor should not be the main factor opting for a desire to make a career in law, but certainly, it is an important one. “You will find one of the top reasons to invest in a law degree, besides the fact you will likely have job security, is you'll be able to start your career track with a high annual salary” (Audsley, 2020).

 

  1. Prestigious

Upholding the rule of law is a privilege and lawyers are considered to play a vital role in society. They are thought of as ones who can bring justice, help others and find solutions to complex problems, and therefore meet with the admiration of others. Just as medical degree studies, law studies are considered challenging and take more time and effort to be prepared for practising it.

Also, as weird as it may sound, a career in law was popularized by the introduction of TV series. In fact, according to Fletchers Solicitors, 39% of millennials’ careers were inspired by TV shows, including legal ones (Audsley, 2020). Film productions inspired young people towards starting their careers in the legal industry, making it look less hermetic, and more accessible to everybody who has enough determination and willpower to do it.

 

  1. Transferable skills and intellectual challenges

Studying law you need to gain knowledge in many other disciplines to gain solid grounds enabling analysis of the problem from multiple angles. However, apart from gaining knowledge, you are also gaining transferable skills crucial for whatever career path you end up taking. These include the ability of good writing, articulation of complex thoughts and theories, research skills, performing in-person presentations and public speaking, mediations and performing in the courtroom by running mock trials.

Law studies focus among others on problem-solving, innovative thinking, overcoming intellectual challenges, and instant factual recalling. These highly valued and in-demand skills serve as a preparation not only for careers as lawyers but in diverse policy-related fields, such as government, international organisations, the voluntary sector and business (Why study law)

Dedicating a career in law requires commitment, fortitude, a desire to uphold laws, and a will to become an expert on the legal system. There are many motivating factors behind the decision of beginning a career in this field. Whether it is a continuation of “family tradition”, ambition, a promise of having a secure and well-paid job, prestige or simply pure interest in the discipline, studying law can turn out to be a long and bumpy road. The legal industry is a competitive and a little forgiving market, but also as said by those who already practice it a very rewarding career. As stated by Sally Kane (2019) “Some lawyers travel the country, or even the world, to participate in trials, depositions, arbitrations, and business deals. Others rub shoulders with business leaders, politicians, sports figures, and even celebrities.”  Lawyers make a difference, they uphold the rule of law and help to win cases and these constitute a rewarding career, despite chosen legal practice specialization.

 

References:

Audsley, S.M., (2020) 7 Reasons to Study Law, Keystone Law Studies, https://www.lawstudies.com/article/7-reasons-to-study-law/ (accessed: 07 June 2022).

Kane, S. (2019) Hot Law Practice Areas During A Recession, Balance Careers, https://www.thebalancecareers.com/hot-law-practice-areas-2164644 (accessed: 07 June 2022). Kane, S. (2019)

The Top 8 Reasons to Become a Lawyer, Balance Careers, https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-reasons-to-become-a-lawyer-2164599 (accessed: 07 June 2022). Lawyers Weekly Jobs (2021) These Are Recession-Proof Legal Careers, According to Experts, https://www.lawyersweeklyjobs.com/these-are-recession-proof-legal-careers-according-to-experts/#:~:text=One%20final%20legal%20career%20that,to%20be%20on%20the%20inside (accessed: 07 June 2022).

Scharf, S., A., & Liebenberg, R., D., (2021) Practicing law in the pandemic and moving forward. Results and best practices from a nationwide survey of the legal profession, American Bar Association, https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/digital-engagement/practice-forward/practice-forward-survey.pdf (accessed: 07 June 2022).

Why study law, Trinity College Cambridge, https://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/subjects/law/why-study-law/#:~:text=A%20law%20degree%20can%20give,practical%20approach%20to%20the%20world (accessed: 07 June 2022).

 

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