- August 9, 2019
- Posted by: Augusta Henning
- Category: Career Advice
Do you want to become a lawyer? If so, great! It’s a fantastic and well-respected profession where you can really help to make a difference to the lives of others. Not to mention that there are great career prospects and many different areas in which you can specialise in.
The term ‘lawyer’ generally refers to anyone who is qualified to offer legal advice. So, it may be that you want to become a solicitor who gives legal advice and support to clients, or a barrister who represents clients in court.
Either way, it’s definitely an exciting line of work to get into. And, whether you’re fresh out of school, college, or University, there are a number of ways in which you can qualify for the job. Below, we’ll explain exactly how you can become a lawyer.
What does a lawyer do?
Ultimately, a lawyer gives legal advice to individuals or organisations and represents them where necessary. As a solicitor, you could offer support on a range of personal and commercial issues: from buying and selling property and divorce, to protecting individuals against public or private bodies. On the other hand, solicitors usually hire barristers to represent a case in court.
Typically, you could work in a private law practise, in-house for a large commercial organisation, or even in your local/central government.
What do lawyers typically earn?
The Law Society recommends that providers of training contracts pay trainees £22,121 in London and £19,619 outside of the capital. However, this figure will jump up dramatically after you become qualified. In fact, according to Payscale, the average lawyer salary in the UK currently sits at £47,160. As with any industry, pay varies massively across the UK.
How do I get started as a lawyer?
Because the sector is highly competitive, you tend to need a degree in order to become a lawyer. In general, it takes around six years to become a solicitor; three of these are spent studying at university, one in an LPC and a further two-years spent doing a training contract.
You can become a lawyer without studying law; however you’ll need to complete a law conversion course (a GDL) which takes a year.
Alongside this, if you want to become a barrister, you’ll spend a year doing your BPTC after finishing your degree. After this, you need to do another years pupillage in chambers.
If university isn’t for you then some employers offer legal apprenticeships and you can also take CILEx qualifications in order to become a chartered legal executive. These generally take four years to complete and you’ll study on a part-time basis. After this, you need to spend three more years in qualifying employment.
What key skills do I need to become a lawyer?
As with any job, there a number of key skills that will help you get ahead as a lawyer. Firstly, having great people and communication skills can be extremely beneficial; you’ll work with a range of individuals on a daily basis and being able to build positive relationships is crucial.
Alongside this, strong attention to detail is a highly sought after trait. So, if you have a sharp eye for accuracy this can help you to stand out. Be conscious of the fact that employers will look out for this when you apply to their jobs; so make sure your CV and cover letter are free of spelling errors or grammatical mistakes.
Another key skill is resilience. This is becoming increasingly important in the working world; not least in the legal profession where you need to be confident in your abilities and susceptible to change. After all, it’s a challenging industry to work in. No two days are the same and you’ll need to be able to sell yourself.
Alongside this, if you do want to become a lawyer it’s worth getting yourself some work experience in the legal sector. This can help to build your skillset and might be something you do during your studies; your university may even have contacts that you can approach for more formal work placements.
What do lawyers do day-to-day?
The role of a lawyer varies massively depending what area you specialise in and whether you’re a solicitor, barrister, legal executive and so on. However, general day-to-day tasks include:
- Offering advice and support to clients
- Interpreting laws and applying them to cases
- Representing clients in court
- Gathering evidence for cases
- Presenting evidence to defend clients
- Negotiating settlements
- Supervising legal assistants
What are the best bits about being a lawyer?
One of the best bits about being a lawyer is the fact that it’s an extremely rewarding line of work. You’ll help people and guide them through a challenging situation; they’ll rely on you for expert advice and there’s nothing better than knowing you’ve helped someone through a difficult time.
Another benefit of being a lawyer is naturally the pay! After qualifying, pay tends to shoot up massively. So, you can expect to earn well if you become a lawyer.
What are the challenges of being a lawyer?
One of the main challenges you’ll face if you become a lawyer is the long working days. This is ingrained into the culture of most workplaces in the industry; largely because there simply aren’t enough hours in the working day to answer emails, complete paperwork and ultimately, meet deadlines.
Alongside this, some of the cases that you deal with may be rather harrowing; particularly if you specialise in an area such as family or criminal law.
This career is for you if…
You love a challenge, want to help others and also want to earn the big bucks later down the line. Sure, you’ll need to put in the effort now and work hard throughout your studies; but it will all be worth it once you finally qualify. Good luck!