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Getting in and on
Do you enjoy working with people? Do you want to help create a safe and fair society? Do you want to do something worthwhile? Are you looking for a career that's a bit different, where you will face new and challenging situations daily?
Good communication, planning and organisational skills are essential. As is professionalism.
Many careers in this sector will require you to have a Level 3 or degree level qualification. Students with a range of degree subjects often move into law through additional study, e.g from history, etc.
There are job opportunities available for people who wish to start their careers at an assistant level and the most popular route is gaining employment after a Level 3 qualification. The sector invests heavily in supporting people to gain additional qualifications – so you might be able to work and study at a higher level.
Work experience is also valued in this particular work area and many higher level courses offer the opportunity to gain work experience. Work experience, either voluntary or paid, will help you stand out when applying for these jobs, and the more experience you have, the better.
Routes into this job sector
There are various types of qualifications available:
- At 14 GCSEs in English and Maths will help get you into this sector. Your school might also offer vocational qualifications such as BTECs, OCR Nationals, etc. related to this specific job sector.
- At 16 you have more options – A Levels, apprenticeships, vocational qualifications, and traineeships have also started in some areas.
- At 18 or 19 your options open further - you may wish to do higher education/university, with 8 out of 10 A Level students choosing this pathway and half of all BTEC National students. However there are other routes into your chosen career - through apprenticeships and vocational qualifications
Getting into Law:
To qualify as a solicitor the traditional route is to take a law degree followed by further full or part-time, job based training over a number of years.
Whilst most people take a law degree as the first step to becoming a solicitor you can also follow a non-graduate route, as a legal executive and then work towards qualifying as a solicitor. Being a legal executive is a career in its own right and whilst the process is demanding it allows you to earn while you learn. Visit the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives for more information on this pathway.
On-the-job training is well developed in the legal services sector through Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships. These provide a different option if you want to work and learn. (see the spotlight on Apprenticeships below)
To work in other law enforcement jobs e.g as a police officer, means you have to be over 18 and have to pass certain assessments (written and physical). Before you are 18, it can be a good idea to take a Public Service course at college or take relevant A Levels, including Law.
To find out more about the qualifications needed in this sector visit the Sector Skills Council’s website at Skills for Justice
Getting into politics
A career in politics does not necessarily mean becoming an MP. There are other related opportunities which do not require a politics degree. However, you will need an interest in politics and some involvement in local or student politics. Most opportunities related to politics require qualifications at degree level, such as a political researcher or public affairs consultant (lobbyist).
Spotlight on... Legal Services Apprenticeships
Legal Services have been investing heavily in Apprenticeships recently, with many legal placements opening up in some of the top law firms.
Working in the legal market means assisting trained lawyers to handle their casework and in some situations, dealing with clients yourself.
This market is regarded as one of the most competitive career paths to get into and an apprenticeship would allow you a foothold over the competition, providing a direct route into a well respected profession.
There are a variety of roles apprentices could hold depending on where you work in the legal sector. At an Advanced Apprenticeship level, you might be working in criminal prosecution, civil litigation, employment law, family law, property or working for private clients. Whilst, Higher Apprenticeships are currently available in commercial litigation, debt recovery and personal injury.
It is important to note that an apprenticeship in Legal Services will not lead to becoming a qualified solicitor or barrister (you still need a degree and post-grad for that).
The film below highlights the Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services which provides alternative entry routes for people wanting to becoming a qualified fee-earner or 'paralegal' within the legal sector.
Higher Apprenticeships in Legal Services
If you want to know more about the Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships in Legal Services, there is a lot more information on the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives website.
Websites for vacancies in this sector
- Legal Week Jobs has been designed to help you find the right legal or paralegal job as easily and as quickly as possible.
- Law Gazette Jobs is the dedicated legal recruitment website from the market-leading, official magazine of the Law Society - the Law Society Gazette
- TotallyLegal is a leading job site for Legal Professionals covering private practice, in-house and public sector roles, as well as legal secretaries, paralegals and executives.