A Career in Law
The quickest route into law is to do well at your exams, get a good university law degree and then do further training. Barristers need to do a one-year Bar Vocational Course and a pupillage in a barrister’s chambers for at least 12 months. Solicitors have to do a one-year Legal Practice Course followed by a two-year training contract with a solicitors firm or the law department of a government department or company.
Top grades are required throughout your academic studies to become a solicitor or barrister. The quickest route into the profession is to get top marks in GCSEs and A-levels, at least a 2.1 university law degree, and then further training and qualifications.
The further training depends on whether you wish to become a barrister or solicitor. For barristers, the one-year Bar Vocational Course (BVC) followed by at least a 12-month pupillage in chambers is necessary. Pay varies from £10k to £30k at the top chambers. Solicitors take the one-year Legal Practice Course (LPC) followed by a two-year training contract, usually with a firm of solicitors, or the legal section of a commercial firm or government department. Trainees’ pay varies, but at a major London firm can be between £25k and £35k.
Both the BVC and LPC can be done at universities and colleges across the UK.
If you are a graduate, but not of law, you can do a one year Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before taking the LPC/BVC.
There are other routes in, though. Solicitors can qualify as a legal executive through the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) and do on the job training. To do an ILEX course, you need four GCSEs at C or above, including English. Legal executives can work in any area of law, but tend to specialise in the following areas:
- conveyancing - the legal side of buying and selling property;
- family issues - advising on divorces and matters affecting children;
- crime - defending and prosecuting people accused of crimes;
- company and business law - advising clients on legislation that affects their business such as tax, contract and employment law;
- litigation - where a client is in dispute with someone else;
- probate - dealing with wills, trusts and inheritance tax; and
- personal injury - handling accident claims.
Starting salaries for legal executives tend to be between £14k and £18k, but qualified legal executives can earn over £50k and partners in law firms considerably more.
More information: http://www.lawcareers.net/Information/
WorkingMums spoke to Helen Climance, our employment law expert, to find out how she got into the profession and about the qualities she thinks are necessary to become a lawyer.
What qualifications did you take to get into law?
Did you specialise early?
Do you think there are any particular personality traits that suit people to law?
Is it possible to do your work flexibly?
Is there a lot of extra work to do in the evenings?
How many hours a week do you work?
What are the advantages of a career in law?
What is the average salary for someone in your specialism or does it depend on the law firm, etc?
Focus on.. A Career in Law is in association with SJ Berwin
We are a leading international law firm. We believe that working here is certainly challenging, but the rewards are clear. Our people take responsibility early on for their client relationships, allowing them to develop real leadership skills at a firm with a genuinely international outlook.
We’re also proud of the supportive culture that’s developed here. Our unique mentoring and career development initiatives and award-winning Insight training programme means that no matter what your role, you’ll be supported every step of the way.
SJ Berwin has a very strong commitment to diversity. We have embodied this in a clear set of policies and have an enthusiastic Diversity Committee and energetic working groups focused on issues that are important to us: age, disability, ethnic background, gender, religion, sexual orientation and social inclusion. SJ Berwin’s Diversity Committee comprises representatives from across the firm led by one of our senior partners.
Our emphasis on the diversity of people is part and parcel of our overall strategy of creating and maintaining an inclusive working environment.
Find out more about working with SJ Berwin.