A career in law doesn’t have to start with a degree in law. Employers are looking for more than just legal knowledge from the aspiring solicitors and would-be barristers they take on.
In fact, up to half of young lawyers now begin careers in law without a law degree.
So how can you get into the legal profession without that law degree, qualify a lawyer without an LLB?
Get a taste of the trade
Legal firms and barristers’ chambers place value on personal, professional and educational experience. Their first chance to look at future graduates is through solicitors’ vacation schemes and barristers’ mini-pupillages, which are essentially work experience. Find firms that might be interested in your specific skills – for example, intellectual property specialists might like people with engineering degrees – and apply to their schemes. Many practices and chambers offer traineeships to people who have been through their scheme, kickstarting a career in law, with training contracts more likely to be offered to people who have already been through their schemes.
Do a conversion course
There are one-year conversion courses that people with degrees in other subjects can undertake. The graduate diploma in law (GDL) and common professional examination (CPE) are for would-be solicitors and barristers. The courses cover the seven areas all legal professionals must know, plus an eighth area which they research themselves – a crucial skill for a career in law.
Become a legal secretary
Legal secretaries keep any law practice running smoothly. There are courses up to degree level that provide the understanding of the machinations of the law that allows them to do that. With further study, plus the accrued expertise of dealing with cases day-to-day, making the leap from secretary to a lawyer is an option.
Take a legal apprenticeship
There are opportunities for bright school-leavers to learn on the job. Companies fund training to LLB or Masters level. Apprentices begin their careers in law without a law degree, but earn as they learn.
If you’re educated to degree level and have built a career in a field of use to a legal firm – and there are firms which specialise in so many different areas – it’s possible to leap into the world of law. We’d refer you to points one and two on our list if you’re considering careers in law without a law degree.
Cross over jobs
A common route into legal roles is via cross over jobs – for instance, someone from a project management background working within a legal team as a people manager, but not actually practicing law. They could potentially have some law experience or partial qualification, but such roles are not dependent on it, so many diversely skilled people can enter the legal sector in this manner.
The CILEx qualification
The CILEx qualification (Chartered Legal Executive) is a good route to becoming a qualified legal professional without a law degree or a graduate diploma in law. A Chartered Legal Executive is a qualified lawyer specialising in a particular area of law. By completing several stages of training and working in qualifying employment for at least three years, people can become a CILEx ‘Fellow’. You can find out more here: Qualifiy as a Chartered Legal Executive and How to Qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive Lawyer.
Working as a contractor in support roles on legal projects (such as some that Momenta Legal Resourcing finds people for), is a good way to gain legal experience without actually practicing law. If you’re looking to qualify as a CILEx Fellow, any project that’s overseen by a qualified Lawyer this would be classed as ‘Qualifying Employment’ for your fellowship.
You can see all our latest legal sector contract opportunities in our vacancies page.
If you are interested in Registering with Momenta Legal Resourcing as a contractor – please check our registration page.