How important is the university you graduate from for a career in Law?

Last year, the UK’s legal sector was worth £26 billion, with an industry growth of 8% from 2015 figures. The research noted that, for every 1% the UK’s legal service sector grows, 8,000 new jobs are created with £379 million added to the economy. Employers increasingly have a greater variety of candidates to choose from due to the year on year increase of legal sector workers.

The legal sector is extremely difficult to crack, but offers highly prestigious roles, great career prospects, excellent salaries and is an evidently a growing industry across the UK economy. With an estimated 370,000 people working in the legal sector in the UK, nearly 66% of these legal professionals work as solicitors for legal businesses.

While Cambridge is ranked the number one university for law, followed by Oxford and then College University London, you don’t have to visit a prestigious ‘redbrick’ university, attend lectures and seminars, or even graduate with a law degree to make your mark. There are alternative routes of entry into law which could land you your dream job in the profession.

The most common way of entering law is the typical ‘graduate route’ – attending university for three years of study to obtain a law degree. Another route is obtaining a law degree, or similar degree, through personal home study in your own time, from the Open University, which can take an average of six years if opting to complete the course part-time. You could also study for a Graduate Diploma in law course, or undertake a Legal Practice Course. The final route is a period of recognised training such as an apprenticeship scheme with a legal firm.

In 2016 going into 2017, just over 25,000 students opted to study law at undergraduate level in England and Wales, but only 17,000 students were accepted – 67.5% of whom were female and 32.5% male. However, not getting into a ‘redbrick’ university course to study law doesn’t mean you’ve exhausted all of your options.

Another route into law that doesn’t require you to attend university is an apprenticeship programme, and it’s now possible to qualify as a solicitor this way. The Law Society says:

“The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) is proposing to introduce a Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which would comprise a series of centralised assessments of knowledge and skills. This would replace the existing routes to qualifying as a solicitor. The Law Society is also calling for the routes of entry into the profession to be much clearer to ensure that the best candidates can enter the profession, irrespective of their background.”

The legal sector is booming, with more career prospects than ever. Attending a ‘redbrick’ university looks enviable on a CV, and obtaining a law degree from such establishment looks great from an employer’s perspective, but there are other ways to break in to the sector.

At Zest, we understand that securing the right role for your future is pivotal. Our experience is well versed in matching your repertoire of skills and experience with an exciting role. For advice and support in funding your next legal role, speak to us. Or take a look at the latest roles we’re working on right now.