What lies ahead?

Summer. The time of year when the mortarboards are thrown in the air as you grab your graduation certificate and wave goodbye to the institute that has seen you sweat blood and tears for the past three or four years.

Many of you will take the next few weeks as downtime before starting your journey on what we hope will be a long and very successful legal career ahead. But what can you expect, what does a career in the legal profession actually look like?

We’ve worked as solicitors for the best part of 20 years, and while the sector has evolved during this time there is a lot that has remained the same. Here we take a look at what may lie ahead for you.

The legal sector in the UK is growing. In fact, over the last 12 months it has grown by 8% and is now worth around £26bn a year, employing over 80,000 solicitors in private practice throughout England and Wales.

While competition for jobs is high, the opportunities for those graduates who are successful in obtaining a position are plentiful. First there is the prestige that comes with working in the legal profession. Then there is the competitive salary  that comes with it along with the opportunity to try your hand at any of a number of specialist fields, such as commercial, criminal or employment law.

The career path you take can be wide and varied to becoming traditionally known as a Solicitor or Barrister. But of course with increasing rights of audience there are opportunities to sit both behind the desk and in front of judge and jury

The former is normally the first port of call for those looking for advice and Solicitors often represent private or corporate clients on an increasingly wide range matters such as tax, wills, disputes or property among others. Barristers, on the other hand, advise, construct and draft documentation and are more commonly known to present cases in court under instruction from a solicitor and tend to specialise in a particular area, such as family and criminal law, personal injury and catastrophic matters along with immigration and human rights.

Of course not everyone entering the profession works as a solicitor; there are three-times as many paralegals (300,000) as there are solicitors and barristers (12,000) combined.

Entering as a paralegal of course is now one of the most recognised routes of entry, to then undertake your learning via CILEX and being to now qualify as a Solicitor through this route, as well as the traditional trainee Solicitor avenue.

Then  there are Court Administrative Officers, Barrister’s/Clerks Advocate’s Clerks, Legal Executives, Law Costs Draftsmen, Conveyancers. Not forgetting those occupying the top seat in the legal system, the Judges.

The area in which you practice can influence how much you are paid. For example, those working in commercial law tend to enjoy higher salaries than those opting to work in family or employment law. But irrespective of which area you choose to specialise, the fact remains that you are about to enter an incredibly diverse and constantly evolving sector.

There will be occasions when you can don your wig and gown and make dramatic speeches in packed courtrooms that may even grab the attention of TV producers looking for the next Judge Judy. However, these are rare occasions and for the most part your job may be a little less glamorous, but no less important.

If you are about to graduate or have graduated in the last year and would like advice on how to get a head start in your legal career, give us a call. Our directors have each practised law for over 20 years, so they understand the challenges you face at this important stage of your career – they faced them themselves.