Legal School Leaver Jobs - Careers Guide

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What comes to mind when you think of top-paying jobs? Lawyer is usually one of them, and with good reason - while they're not all how you see them on TV, lawyers do have a lot of responsibility.Legal

There is a lot of studying, reading, writing and learning that goes into becoming a qualified solicitor or barrister, but if you’re interested in what the legal profession does, you'll find opportunities to work in it by getting other kinds of qualifications.

What’s it all about? TOP ^

Being a lawyer is about more than just arguing a case in front of a judge - a lot of preparation goes into working out what points to make and how to proceed, as well keeping track of the admin side. You can work in one of these supportive roles if you have a bit of secretarial experience, and a certificate or diploma from City & Guilds. Experienced legal secretaries can go on to become paralegals, who have more responsibility and involvement in a case, but need a bit more training to get there.

These options are still open to you if you want to go on to university. If your plan is to become a lawyer, you need to decide whether you want to eventually become a solicitor or a barrister. The majority of legal professionals are solicitors, and their work can be fairly general, though this depends on the law firm they join.

Barristers (called Advocates in Scotland) are the ones who wear wigs and gowns in court, and will specialise in an area of law. Students who want to become barristers or solicitors will start off learning exactly the same things, but then will receive different training as they finish their degree and complete work experience.

Hours and workload in this profession vary greatly depending on the organisation you work for, but there will very likely be travel involved for research purposes, or simply to be present in court. There's a lot of research involved, and very strict deadlines to keep.

What will I earn? TOP ^

New legal secretaries can earn £12,000-£15,000, which can increase to over £20,000 as they gain experience. The starting salary for a paralegal is around £20,000, with experienced paralegals making around £40,000.

Solicitors can start off earning £18,000-£20,000, though starting salaries in large firms can be around £30,000. Barristers are self-employed, but can earn over £50,000 in their first year depending on the amount of work they do.

Where can I work? TOP ^

If you want to work in the administrative side of law as court clerk or progress to be a paralegal, City & Guilds offers qualifications that give you the skills and legal knowledge you'll need.

If you want to become a solicitor or barrister, you'll need a law degree. You can work in private practices, as legal aid or for the government.

Careers in law are all about experience, so expect to spend plenty of time training and getting on the job skills.

What skills will I need for a legal job? TOP ^

However far you want to progress in the legal sector, you’ll need excellent organisation and research skills, as well as tact in keeping client details confidential. Liaising with clients requires good communication skills too. You may need to act on your own initiative when it comes to further training, so a passion for what you do will give you the drive you need to succeed.

More general skills that are seen as standard for work across the legal sector include:

What entry level legal jobs can I do?TOP ^

A legal career will require you to get qualified, so school leavers will need to make sure they get qualified. You can take a legal qualification at university or through on the job training. The kind of legal qualification you need depends on the career you want.
Some entry level legal jobs include:

  • File clerk
  • Document coder
  • Legal assistant
  • Court messenger
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