Alternative law jobs for graduates
So, you have completed your Bachelor of Law studies and realised that you are now not so keen on qualifying as a lawyer, or perhaps you studied another subject at university and want to kickstart your career in law without completing the Graduate Diploma in Law.
Fortunately, there are several rewarding career options within law, both in-house and in practice, suited to graduates who do not wish to immediately qualify as a lawyer. This is our comprehensive guide on alternative law jobs for graduates.
While they work alongside solicitors, barristers and in-house counsel, paralegals are not qualified to independently practice law.
Yet, this does not mean a paralegal career will prevent you from working closely to the law. Many paralegal jobs – particularly entry-level positions – will see you providing administrative support, carrying out legal research, drafting documents and generally supporting senior colleagues.
However, with experience often comes progression and paralegals can become fee earners with their own caseload of clients. Law firms often offer training contracts to their brightest and most talented paralegals.
Some law firms and in-house teams will recruit paralegals without experience or qualification, but often they require a paralegal practice certificate or similar.
Where Solicitors cover a breadth of practice areas in their training, legal executives focus on just one.
Becoming a legal executive will entail completion of a qualification offered by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). Which qualification is right for you will depend on your current education and qualification level, but as a law graduate you will likely be eligible for the CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma.
Legal Secretaries, PAs and administrative assistants
Legal secretaries work in law firms, providing administrative, secretarial and office management support to solicitors, legal executives, paralegals and all other personnel.
The responsibilities of a legal secretary are akin to those of a secretary working in another industry, albeit with a legal focus. As such, your daily tasks may include answering and directing telephone calls, taking minutes, drafting documents, maintaining databases and organising meetings.
There are often no minimum qualification requirements to becoming a legal secretary, but you will have to demonstrate strong academics, good administrative skills and a genuine interest in the legal profession. That said, a legal secretary diploma – such as those offered by our partner the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs – may go a long way towards securing a high-quality legal secretary job.
As a legal secretary you may be inclined to climb the ranks of the firm, becoming a paralegal and eventually a qualified solicitor. Alternatively, if your preference sways more towards the administrative side of things, you could work towards becoming a legal PA.
Legal PAs, while undertaking similar work to legal secretaries, often support just a handful of partners or senior associates in a firm as opposed to a whole team.
Conveyancers are the legal link between people and property, helping clients to make sense of the administration, finances and legal obligations involved in the purchase and sale of land, residential property and business premises.
To become a licensed conveyancer, you will first need to pass the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) exams alongside 1,200 hours of practical work experience. However, as a law graduate you are likely to qualify for an exemption – meaning your study time will be reduced.
In addition to law firm work, conveyancers can craft in-house careers with building societies, banks, estate agents and property businesses.
For conveyancers, the future holds many possibilities. Many go it alone as self-employed freelancers or build their own practice while others undertake further study to become fully fledged solicitors.
Risk and compliance
Jobs in risk and compliance offer an excellent entry point into the legal profession for law graduates who do not want to qualify as a law practitioner. Compliance is a burgeoning area of expertise in law, directly influenced by the continually changing regulations imposed on industries such as technology, healthcare and financial services.
Responsible for mitigating risks, compliance professionals design, implement and enforce policies and procedures that ensure all business activity is carried out within the boundaries of the law and in compliancy with rules set out by sector-specific regulatory bodies.
While some compliance officers and analysts work in law firms, many are directly employed by the in-house team of corporate organisations and public sector bodies. As a full law qualification is not always required for these roles, they are often seen as low threshold entry points for in-house careers.
To find out more about life as a compliance officer, read the full compliance career guide on our blog.
A company secretary is a senior professional within an organisation who provides independent advice to the board of directors on key areas including corporate law, risk and compliance, strategy and governance.
A law degree is a great starting point to becoming a company secretary, but you will also likely need to study towards the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) qualification to make the most of your career, reach the boardroom in the shortest amount of time and have the chance to make a six-figure salary.
If you are interested in business management, want to work in-house and have a firm grasp of corporate law, compliance and governance, a company secretarial career could be for you. While you will not be able to go straight from university into a full-blown company secretary role, it is a rewarding and realistic goal to have.
A range of assistant company secretary and company secretary jobs can be found on TotallyLegal.