As I was reading a headline in a recent Times2 article ‘A Law Degree: is it a waste of money?’ I thought how disheartening it must be for current students contemplating embarking on a law degree. How much simpler it was for me, a number of years ago, when I chose to read law for the thrill of doing something new and learning about the world, life and commerce whilst also gaining new employment skills for my career.
But what are the facts behind this discouragement? Yes there has certainly been a challenging time during the recent recession which has made jobs in the legal profession harder to get. Law is always going to be competitive and demands high levels of commitment and motivation. Nevertheless examine the facts and figures before giving up on your dream career!
A law degree is a great qualification to obtain employment – law graduates have the 6th highest employment rate - and bear in mind up to 60% of all law graduates chose to use their law degree to gain jobs other than in the legal profession. So a law degree itself is attractive to a whole range of employers outside the professional legal employers. Students worry less about reading English or History which have worse employability rates and no one writes headlines about these degrees being a waste of money!
But what if you aspire to qualifying as a solicitor? Prospects are definitely improving. Latest Law Society figures show that training contracts have risen by 6% this year taking the number to 5,302. Compare this to the SRA’s figures for the number who sat the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and you find that there is a ratio of less than 1 to 3 students per training contract. These are only bald figures but the odds don’t seem that discouraging to me!
Solicitors will have challenging jobs and the first challenge is getting that vital training contract, so approach it the right way. Use careers services in school, university and at legal training providers. There are a whole range of skills and employability sessions on offer from training providers as well as from university careers services and Law Societies, so make sure you use them! And don’t forget, we have an award-winning careers and employability service here at The University of Law.
It’s also worth checking training providers out carefully and looking at their employability stats. For example, 98% of The University of Law’s full-time LPC students who graduated in summer 2013 had secured employment within nine months of graduation*.
My advice would be to start getting legal work experience as soon as possible and take great care over any job application. Don’t put it off - start today!
*Based on known destinations
Written by Imogen Burton, Director of Business Development, The University of Law
Imogen qualified as a solicitor and specialised in real estate work in the City. During her time at the University she has designed and taught courses for the postgraduate programmes, written resource books, been Course Director, and also the Centre Director in Guildford before moving to her current role.