The law is a competitive and difficult profession, and there’s no guarantee that training to be a lawyer will result in a successful career. In 2015, 23,855 people applied to study law at UK universities, beginning the process of training to become a lawyer. In the same year, only 6,077 people were entered onto the roll as registered solicitors
Even if you get over these initial hurdles to find work as a lawyer, barrister or solicitor it’s a stressful job. Billable hours with a client are far outnumbered by intense solo preparation required to be able to give the right advice. Lawyers are also largely self-employed, finding each client themselves.
It’s not a life that suits everyone. Fortunately, training in the law and expertise with a legal contract are valuable skills in the job marketplace. There are many different ways for trained lawyers to put their experience to use.
Joining the legal team of a business is a good way to use your knowledge and experience without submitting yourself to the higher pressure of life as independent lawyer.
You’ll be expected to keep up to date with the latest developments, especially in business law as it concerns your employer, so you can advise them on keeping their business compliant with the law while also ensuring they aren’t spending unnecessary resources to do so. You may also have to protect their interests by issuing legal letters to those infringing intellectual copyright, or challenging contracts.
While this is difficult and specialised work, requiring a lot of research, you will be in salaried position taking away a lot of the uncertainty of working as an independent lawyer.
Law is regularly questioned, debated and reformed and there is quite a market for experts to engage in legal research. The Law Commission regularly takes in Research Assistants on 12 month posts to work on projects, and government institutions and think tanks always require legal experts to give input on proposed policies.
This choice removes you from the adversarial nature of work as a lawyer: you work on a team investigating the implications of changes to law. It would suit someone with a close attention to detail, and good communications skills to present their findings to people without a professional understanding of the law.
The Law Society offers a guide to alternative law careers, so if you feel the lawyers life doesn’t suit you, more help and information is available.