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Revealed: The non-law careers law students are considering

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Legal Cheek exclusive research shows most want to work in business, consulting and management or the public sector upon graduating

There has been an influx of students enrolling on law degrees in recent times but not every single one will want to pursue a career in legal practice as a solicitor or barrister. After all, the undergraduate law degree is often touted as an academic, rather than vocational, discipline, and one that can equip students with solid transferable skills to enter a wide range of professions.

In fact, 81% of rookies are open to an alternative career to law, as per Legal Cheek‘s exclusive survey of 525 law students.

More than half of the respondents surveyed were undergraduate law students (55%) with the rest in postgraduate study, such as the GDL, LPC and BPTC, or completing a master’s. A small percentage (1%) were sixth-form students.

The field the current crop of students most want to join is business, consulting or management, with 58% of the vote. This could mean these students are eyeing up graduate placements at the ‘Big Four’ — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC — which offer opportunities in consultancy, among others. The next most popular vocation among respondents, with 56% of the vote, is within the public sector, including the Civil Service.

Thirty-nine percent are considering careers in marketing, PR and journalism, which came in third, closely followed by 38% open to non-lawyer roles in legal operations. A training contract isn’t the only way into a global law firm; as many now offer graduate schemes that mimic the TC’s two-year, four-seat structure. Linklaters, for example, launched recently a legal operations graduate scheme, while Ashurst and Norton Rose Fulbright have similar programmes geared towards grads with an interest in business and legal operations. Participants on these programmes don’t, however, qualify as solicitors.

Academia or teaching received the interest of 36% surveyed. A further 35% are open to non-lawyer roles in legal technology, which, again, some law firms actually offer training programmes for. Allen & Overy offers a tech-focused graduate scheme and houses Fuse, its very own tech incubator which recruits bright legal minds. Slaughter and May‘s Collaborate and Mishcon de Reya‘s MDR LAB are other examples.

Elsewhere, 34% want to break into the world of banking and finance, 30% are interested in HR/recruitment, 17% in insurance and just 3% are looking to enter the line of engineering and manufacturing which doesn’t come as much surprise due to the technical nature of the work.

The research follows the news that law students are pessimistic about their career prospects in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The overwhelming majority agreed that the current public health crisis has reduced the number of job opportunities in the legal sector, and worry that the disruption will slow their career progression.

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