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Various Fields of Job Opportunities for Law Graduates

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Public Administration

Civil service employees are government employees. There are also a large number of organizations that employ personnel, including law graduates, in areas of work broadly described as public administration. These include appointments in local authorities, quangos, i.e. quasi non-governmental organizations such as Equal Opportunities Commission and Scottish National Heritage-universities and health trusts, all of which employ a significant number of administrators. Indeed, almost any organization you care to think of is likely to have posts for which a law degree is a suitable qualification.



Industry and Commerce

A significant number of law graduates are recruited directly into industry and commerce each year. It is perhaps odd that little legal traineeship is offered by industry. They appear to prefer to leave the professional training to private practice and recruit only qualified solicitors to their legal departments. The range of possibilities for those entering industry and commerce straight from law school is infinite, but commonly accountancy and tax firms, banks, building societies, insurance companies and all businesses offering financial services attract law graduates. If you envisage any of those as a career option, you should aim to select some subjects in your degree that reflect these interests and seek to gain vacation experience with one or more of them. Not only does this give you a foot in the door if that company is recruiting when you graduate, but it makes you more knowledgeable about the business generally if you are interviewed by any similar organization.

Separate from the companies that appoint lawyers to do their in-house legal work, there are many businesses which recruit law and other graduates as management trainees. For example, companies that are household names, such as Debenhams, Marks & Spencers and Tescos, all have a graduate recruitment program which actively seeks applications from graduates in any discipline. Typically these companies are looking for "management potential" which has been interpreted as candidates with "interpersonal skills ... the ability to keep a cool head in a crisis… numerate and analytical... and able to interpret data accurately and forecast its strategic impact" (Marks & Spencer, 1998). If a career in industry or commerce appeals to you then flexibility and mobility are important. Often these companies regard it as essential that you have an understanding of the customer and the business in which you are working. To have such a complete understanding will involve you in undertaking many of the activities of the business which you may not regard as immediately attractive. For example, some companies require all those recruited as graduates to learn the business of selling and to build up their own group of customers with whom they interact over some months. This activity is used as one measurement of the caliber of the candidate.

Journalism and Broadcasting

Lawyers are trained to value and respect language. Not only is it fundamental to the skills involved in drafting basic documents or pleading a simple case, but dexterity and creativity with language is essential to the production of more complex and sophisticated legal work. Lawyers who have a natural flair for language may find themselves attracted into journalism or broadcasting. If you wish to practise as a lawyer in journalism and broadcasting then you will of course first have to gain the professional qualification. If you feel that media law is your niche then you should ensure that you take one of the various courses in that subject during your undergraduate years, or as a postgraduate course. However, this article is directed more towards those who do not wish to stay in law but nonetheless wish to use their law degree for some other purpose. There are a few jobs available in journalism as legal correspondents. Many of the national newspapers have specific journalists designated to report on high-profile legal cases or on proposals for law reform or other articles of wide public interest. Equally, some of the specialist law journals will rely on the services of those who are capable of writing law articles. However, the contributors to the latter tend to be freelance and, while it is quite possible to carve out a career as a self-employed person, it may prove too unpredictable in terms of job security and income to be viable long term.

Law Librarian

You do not have to have a law degree to be a law librarian, but if you have a fascination for books, are by nature a methodical and organized person, and relish the calming working environment of a library then a librarian-ship may be attractive to you. Becoming a law librarian is a graduate entry profession, i.e. you must either study librarianship as a first degree or have a prior degree (such as law or legal studies) and then take a postgraduate qualification. A period of relevant work experience is often required before undertaking a postgraduate library course. Graduate training opportunities are coordinated by the Library Association. More information can be obtained from the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL)-the only professional body to represent the interests of law librarians in academia as well as in industry, commerce, archives and other information providers. You might also gain helpful advice and guidance from your own law librarian. Employment opportunities for law librarians extend beyond universities to the information services of the large law firms, courts administration, legal publishers and local and central government.

Law Publishing

In the last decade there has been a flourishing law publishing business in the United Kingdom. Advances in I.T. have made the production of legal texts financially more viable, while increasing pressure on academics to write books has given publishing companies a ready source of material. Law publishing requires legal editors, and candidates with a law background will be at an advantage both in their ability to commission books and to supervise the editing process, though they will also be expected to demonstrate keen business acumen. For example, a recent advertisement for a commissioning editor by the publishers of this book sought to appoint someone with commercial vision and, while a knowledge of Scots law was not essential, a "strong law background and a clear understanding of the needs of lawyers" was.

Paralegals

The term "paralegal" has different meanings throughout the United Kingdom. It is a term that is more familiar in England and Wales than in Scotland. In the former it usually means a legal executive who may well in fact be someone with a law degree but who has not completed training to become qualified as a solicitor. In Scotland the term "paralegal" has a less formal meaning, often referring to someone who may have no particular legal qualifications but who, through experience of working in a legal office, has become skilled in carrying out some of the work of a fully qualified person. In recent years there has been a move to ensure credit is accorded to such individuals, and their status can be officially recognized if they gain a formal qualification and become eligible for membership of the Conveyancing and Executry Board. Some universities such as the University of Abertay in Dundee offer a specific qualification leading to such membership. It is unclear how much demand there is in the profession for paralegals. To some extent the advent of sophisticated I.T. packages has reduced the need for much of the work that was done in the past by paralegals. Undoubtedly, though, they contribute a great deal to the smooth functioning of many legal offices and for those who for whatever reason do not aspire to become a solicitor, they can nonetheless become highly valuable members of the law firm. There are also certain jobs within Scotland which have specific job titles and comprise the sort of work carried out by a paralegal. For example, the Registers of Scotland, the official land register of all title deeds in Scotland, employs legal examiners whose job it is to examine legal titles and oversee the completion of standard applications for land registration. While a legal qualification is not essential, a recent advertisement for such a post stated that "an appropriate legal qualification/experience in Scots law and conveyancing is desirable."



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