career: Lawyer

What it's all about

Law is integrated into every aspect of your life, from when you’re allowed to go out clubbing to when you can start learning to drive.

There are plenty of aspects of law to choose from, and multiple ways to access a legal career. The profession has four main branches.

  • Solicitor
  • Barrister
  • Legal executive
  • Paralegal

Areas of Law

Not only are there different positions in law, but there are also many different areas. Lawyers usually specialise  in one of these areas, and only take on cases about that area. For example, a family lawyer would take on cases such as divorces and custody battles.

  • Corporate/commercial
  • Crime
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Human rights
  • Property
  • Private client
  • Public law

What could I be doing 

What could I be doing

  • advising clients
  • representing clients in court
  • instructing barristers or advocates to act for your clients
  • drafting letters, contracts and documents
  • researching cases
  • keeping financial records
  • attending meetings and negotiations
  • preparing papers for court

Routes in

Although you can study law at university, and go on to study further for specific areas and professions, a degree isn’t totally necessary.

If university isn’t for you, you can complete an apprenticeship after your GCSEs and A-Levels hich can then lead to you completing the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice or Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law.

While you’re studying for these qualifications, you can work as a paralegal. However, once you’re qualified you’ll be able to work as a fully chartered legal executive. Legal executives often perform the same roles as a solicitor, and generally specialise in one area of law.

What skills will I need 

What skills will I need

  • Team work
  • Organisation
  • Time management
  • Eye for detail
  • Theoretical knowledge
  • People skills
  • Confidence
  • Responsible

Been there, done that


We spoke to Zoe Ledsham, a trainee lawyer... 

We spoke to Zoe Ledsham, a trainee lawyer...

“I am working as a trainee at Clyde & Co in the commercial property department as a result of taking the alternative route into law. I started out as a legal assistant in a law firm in Liverpool and studied for the CILEx exams after work and at weekends.

“They’re expanding the perimeters now where you can qualify as a solicitor when initially you had to do the two year training contract, there are maybe twice as many graduates coming out as their are contract places but it’s been altered now that people who have worked in the law firm for four or five years and have the experience to work as a solicitor can now qualify for a period of recognised training. I think that’ll be a big factor and if people know more about that route it’d be something to consider now uni fees are so high.”

“I completed my CILEx studies in just 2 years whilst working full time and went on to move to London in 2013 where I now work for a huge international law firm and will qualify as a solicitor next year.”

Expert opinion

Sarah Baker, Baker & McKenzie inclusion and diversity partner says:

Global law firm Baker & McKenzie has unveiled a new apprenticeship scheme that will give six school leavers the chance to build a career in the legal industry. Sarah Gregory, Baker & McKenzie inclusion and diversity partner, said:

“We have met some extremely bright young people through these programmes, some of whom have taken the decision to start their career immediately after their A-Levels. The apprenticeship initiative now gives us a route through which we can harness some of that talent for the benefit of the business, while contributing to our social mobility commitments.”

According to CILEx, their apprenticeships in legal services “are ideal for younger people starting out on a new career, an adult looking to make a career change, or an employee who would like to develop their skills and knowledge to gain a promotion.”



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