Whilst you may have images of intense courtroom battles and black robes when thinking about a career in law, you might be surprised to know the law industry plays a part in almost every aspect of your life, in everything from your birth certificate to your wedding vows.
The law industry is vast and according to the Law Society, in 2019, the number of solicitors with practising certificates (PC holders) reached almost 150,000- the highest recorded to date. Whilst a career as a solicitor is a popular choice, there are many other opportunities for a career in law. Keep reading as we discuss just a few.
As a legal secretary you will provide administration support to solicitors and other legal professionals in your office. You’ll often be working on complex documents, such as contracts and even wills, so it’s essential you type accurately, but quickly- usually about 40-50 words per minute. You’ll also be required to type up often lengthy dictation, liaise with clients and respond to any incoming enquiries.
Whilst you will be expected to offer support to solicitors and barristers, as a paralegal, you will have your own specific role that often precedes a fully qualified solicitor status. You may work across different law offices, or for not-for-profit organisations, but generally your role involves drafting documents, analysing data, attending court inquests, and working within litigation. A more experienced paralegal may also be required to take witness statements and conduct legal research.
As a mediator, you’ll act as an impartial third party to help solve disputes between a range of people. You could be mediating between divorcing couples, landlords and tenants and even between professionals. You’ll often be arranging and hosting face-to-face meetings with the conflicting parties to help find ways to work through their disagreement, whilst keeping everyone on track and ensuring everyone gets their viewpoints across. You’ll also be expected to take accurate and impartial notes and help agree an outcome that satisfies both parties.
Your role as a solicitor will require you to offer confidential legal advice to your clients, based on whichever area you choose to specialise within. Once you achieve a law degree, you will need to complete your Legal Practice Course (LPC), followed by a training contract.
You can then offer advice to clients who may be dealing with personal issues, such as wills, divorces, selling property, tenancy agreements and personal injury. Alternatively, as a commercial solicitor, you could advise clients on company mergers or acquisitions and disputes between businesses. In each of these fields, you’ll be expected to meet and interview clients to provide the best legal advice and course of action. You’ll also be expected to negotiate with the opposing solicitors and even represent your client in courtroom proceedings.
As a barrister you will advocate and represent your clients in court. However, barristers are often hired by solicitors to also represent their clients. As a barrister, you’ll need excellent communication skills as you’ll be expected to plead your clients’ case in a logical and clear manner. You’ll need to have a strong understanding of the law in order to interpret and support your clients’ case, as well as having the ability to examine and cross-examine witnesses. The most successful barristers are those who negotiate the best outcome for their client.
There are lots of opportunities to pursue a career in law and often, it involves getting creative with opportunities for career progression. At Walsall College, we have excellent links with the Magistrates courts and West Midlands Police that can provide you with the experience you need to make your case.
Apply now to secure your place for September. See our Law courses.