If you're interested in working in the exciting, fast-paced law industry, we've got all the information you need to start your career. Read on to find out how you can smash into the law industry with legal internships, legal graduate jobs and other work experience.
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Apply for Internships, Placements and Graduate Jobs in Legal & Law
Working in the law industry
There are so many benefits to working in the law industry. Not only will you get to live your best Judge Judy life, but you’ll also develop key traits that you'll use for the rest of your career.
An understanding of how best to work in teams
Fantastic communication skills
The ability to lead and manage others
An impressive collection of smart wear.
Not only are the professional benefits a plus, but there’s also money to be made. Salaries are high across the legal profession, with the average salary sitting at over £68,000.
What can you do with a law degree?
When you started doing a law degree, you were probably dreaming of Legally Blonde and Suits. You’ll soon realise there’s so much more to the industry than a power suit and bend’n’snap!
Law graduates begin careers as solicitors, barristers, and legal or paralegal executives. Alternatively, you could use your law qualification to chase a job in another sector, like business or finance.
As a student, it's essential to consider what kind of legal professional, or 'lawyer', you want to be early on in your career. This can help you gain those all-important training contracts or pupilage applications.
Solicitors are members of the legal sector who offer advice and assistance, often acting as the initial point of contact for those asking for representation. These professionals can work in law firms, government departments, or companies' in-house legal departments.
The job itself often revolves around...
Speaking to clients
Explaining how they can help
Researching and understanding the law
Offering a plan of action
Creating legal documents.
Career progression often involves entering the UK law sector as a newly-qualified solicitor and working your way up to associate or partner-level (e.g. in a law firm).
A barrister’s role differs from a solicitor, though there are shared aspects too. These legal professionals advise clients and represent them in court.
They work closely with solicitors who often help them gather relevant information. Rather than working in a law firm, these legal experts do something called 'working in chambers'.
It's here that they prepare case arguments, which they later present in court.
Legal & Paralegal Executives
Legal executives tend to specialise in one area of law. This might be litigation, the process of taking a dispute to court, for example, or it could be conveyancing which has to do with property.
Paralegal executives work to provide legal advice and prepare documents. However, they are not as qualified as solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives. It’s possible to gain work experience in law as a paralegal without a degree.
Deciding which area of law you want to specialise in before looking into law internships is a good idea. The sooner you narrow your focus, the better your chances of landing a graduate role in that area.
Criminal law professionals
Legal professionals specialising in criminal law may represent their clients in court and defend them against charges, including speeding to theft.
Commercial and corporate lawyers
People working in the commercial or corporate legal sector can offer their clients advice on everything from transactions to mergers and work with various businesses.
Can non-law students work in law?
In fact, coming from a non-law background can actually be an advantage, as law firms look for well-rounded people with a range of skills.
While it's not required for students interested in law to have studied a course in the subject, non-law students will have to undertake either the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Common Professional Examination (CPE) at some stage. These are also known as law conversion courses.
The GDL is essentially an in-depth postgraduate qualification that helps you learn a lot of crucial legal foundational knowledge in one year, including seven core subjects: equity and trusts, EU, contract, tort, property, and public and criminal law.
Once you've passed the GDL or CPE, you'll be on the same level as other law graduates.
This means you can undertake either the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and get involved in a law firm training contract or pupillage in chambers in the future.
An internship is a short period of time that you'll spend working for either a law firm or a company's legal department. Law firm internships are often run in the summer months to allow students to participate between academic years.
During a law internship, you’ll be able to do the following...
Visit courts and see the legal system in action.
Work across several different departments
Understand the culture of a law firm
Work within a team and contribute to projects.
You also practically benefit from having support while you're on your programme, including mentorship, a manager and colleagues.
Why do an internship in law?
The benefits are limitless...
You get a first-hand appreciation of what's required to work in a legal career
Great experience to include on your CV
Many law firms will use their legal summer internships to screen potential recruits for graduate roles and training.
One of the best ways to earn yourself a place on a legal training contract is to do well on your law internship.
What do legal internships involve?
While the exact format of a law internship will differ from company to company, everyday tasks include:
Helping to draft and proofreading legal documents
Filing and copying
Sending communications and attending meetings
General office administration
Drafting memos that practising lawyers can use in their cases
Attending court hearings and mediations
Pulling critical information from transcripts
Conducting research using legal libraries
Reviewing police reports, medical records and other essential documentation
Drafting memos that help lawyers to make their arguments.
When should you apply for a legal internship?
To give yourself a good chance of landing a law internship, you need to know when to apply.
Competition is fierce. So one thing you want to do is apply early because places fill up fast, and law firms often make offers to students well in advance. In fact, applications for training contracts open up to two or three years in advance!
Legal internships in the UK often open for applications quite early, sometimes as early as August. So make sure you keep an eye out on impending application deadlines.Apply for Law Internships and Placements
What is a law graduate job?
Law graduate jobs are for students who:
Recently finished university and are looking for permanent roles at a company
Want to get on the career ladder and develop soft and hard skills that employers need.
In a law graduate job, you’re expected to:
Give your all, share ideas with the team and help the business grow
Are law graduate jobs paid?
Law graduate jobs are paid - yes! And a fair bit too.
The current salary for a law graduate is £25,000 a year, but that depends on your employer, experience and location. For example, a London-based company will have a higher starting salary than a Manchester one as the cost of living is higher in the capital.
Commercial and corporate law pay the most, while family law pays a tad less. But don’t let that put you off. Your salary will increase as you gain experience and promotions.
Want to take home £125,000 a year? Apply for a graduate job at one of these law firms:
How long do law graduate jobs last?
As long as you want them to! Law graduate jobs are permanent roles. So you decide how long you want to stay with the company. You can stay on and progress to a more senior position. Or move onto another role that’s more aligned with your career goals.
If you’ve just finished university, a graduate job will give you the ability to earn while gaining experience and figuring out your next step.
What’s the difference between a law graduate job and a law graduate scheme?
You’ve probably heard the term graduate job and graduate scheme used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between them.
Permanent VS temporary
Last one to three years
You’ll rotate around different departments like due diligence or procurement
If you work hard, your employer might keep you on permanently after your programme.
Permanent employee from day one
You’ll work in a specific team/department, performing a specific role.
Full training given in the legal sector, so you can work out if law is right for you
Clear structure to how you learn and develop in your day-to-day role.
Minimal training given
You’ll enter the company after finishing your degree and will have a manager on board to support your growth and development through set tasks and 1:1 meetings.
Tougher application process
You’ll sit exams and psychometric tests, and will need to pass a series of interviews before you can bag the position.
Simpler application process. A graduate CV, cover letter and interview are usually enough to get you the gig.
Applications open in the autumn term, between September and November
Interviews are in January
Your scheme will start the following year.
Advertised throughout the year
Employer sets the application deadline.
How can graduates find jobs in law firms?
Many law firms promote their training contract jobs online, so to be clear about which companies you want to apply to and potentially work for, do plenty of research and list the ones that appeal to you.
The big thing about legal training contracts is that they're advertised years in advance.
This means that, unlike other graduate jobs that you may be able to apply to once you've finished university, with law training contracts, you'll need to apply while you're still an undergraduate.
There are various stages that students and graduates need to go through to secure training contracts. These include work experience in law (which you can read more about below), the LPC (or conversion courses and the LPC for non-law students) and pupillages.
What are the entry requirements for law careers?
If you want to become a solicitor, you need to be aware of the standard path you need to follow, as well as the entry requirements.
UK legal firms will look for people who...
Have or are on track for a 2:1 degree in law or any other subject
Have good A levels and GCSEs
Have done a Legal Practice Course (LPC) before starting work as a trainee solicitor on a training contract
Have done a Professional Skills Course (PSC).
The path to becoming a barrister is the same in many ways, except that this career requires applicants to complete the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
After that comes a pupillage, which lasts for 12 months (two six-month periods). After completing that, it's possible to start taking on court cases and representing clients.
"Day to day, you could draft documents, attend team and client meetings, do legal research and, where applicable, attend court. It's hands-on learning complemented by interactive workshops, training sessions, discussions and fun social events. By the end of your scheme, you’ll have built up an in-depth understanding of life as a trainee, developed invaluable skills, and actively contributed to the firm’s progress." Hogan Lovells Vacation Scheme
Companies offering work experience in law
Law firms aren't the only places where you can find relevant experience. Many companies, especially those that operate on a large scale and employ thousands of people, will have in-house legal teams and departments.
By working as a placement student or intern in one of these legal departments, you can gain insights into employment law and how it impacts human resources (HR), licensing agreements, commercial fraud, bankruptcy, legal compliance and infrastructures.
Work experience at a law firm can help you develop crucial skills, mainly because you'll be involved in the same sorts of projects as graduate trainees.
This could include researching relevant legal aspects, preparing papers for court, drafting legal documents and arranging/attending client meetings.
Law firms offering work experience that made it into our 2022/2023 Best Student Employers list include:
Click to learn more about these companies and why they made it into our Best 100 Student Employers Table.
Where can you find work experience in law?
We advertise jobs for the best UK law firms, so it's always worth looking at our live jobs to see what work experience law firms offer.
We also host thousands of law internship reviews online, which provide an authentic and honest behind-the-scenes look into what it's like to work for law firms.