Non-law grad: ‘How will I know if law is the right path for me?’

By on

Reader seeks lightbulb moment 💡

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, A non-law graduate agonises over whether to embark on a legal career.

“As a non-law student, how will I know if law is the right path for me? I’m not sure if other students (especially law students) feel this way but my main worry has always been how I can make a success of myself in the future. I have a non-law degree and have been contemplating going into law for some time. Should I go for it and start applying for training contracts or wait to be more certain?”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at



Have you done a vac scheme? If not, I’d start there.


I agree. This is a pretty obvious place to start


Others have suggested vac schemes – applying for those is competitive and hard work, especially on top of a full-time job. The application process will closely examine your motivation and that is the very point in question.

Do you know any lawyers? If not, the best thing you can do is try to gain some work experience in something tangential to law that will give you an insight in to the day to day reality of being a lawyer. You could work for one of the legal directories (Chambers and Partners recruit and churn out graduates in large numbers) or working for a legal recruiter (I myself did precisely this). Another option is to work for a law firm in a non-legal capacity, such as legal tech, ops or, God forbid, HR.

As a starting point, though, consider carefully what you want from your career – you mention ‘success’ as a motivator, but what does that actually mean? Law offers good pay, a degree of status and more job security than most professions. The downsides are obvious to anyone who regularly lurks these pages.

Wizened old crone

Most people never have a lightbulb moment and will remain uncertain if their chosen path is the right one for them through much or all of their careers, in law or otherwise. Don’t let it hold you back.


1. Figure out what lifestyle you’d like in your 20s and 30s.
2. If the answer to (1) involves ski trips, living in a nice bit of London, wearing Ralph Lauren/Prada and going to fancy restaurants, then decide whether you’re good at (a) numbers and stamina; (b) communicating; (c) writing and arguing; or (d) computers.
3. If (a), become a banker. If (b) become a consultant. If (c) become a lawyer. If (d) go into tech.
4. Grit your teeth and deal with the sleep deprivation, weight gain, deterioration in personal relationships, and constant anxiety for the next ten years, no matter whether you choose (a), (b), (c), or (d).
5. If the answer to (1) involves CentreParcs, living in a semi-detached in Watford, wearing Superdry and Zara and trips to Pizza Express, choose whatever job you want and enjoy your life.

That’s pretty much the only careers advice you need.


What a sad dichotomy of life choices


Unless you’re one of those people who are lucky enough to be born to sufficient wealth, life is always a series of difficult decisions between choices which are all unsatisfactory in their own ways. Corporate law just forces people to confront those choices in a starker way.


Believe me, my career in commercial law has materially changed my lifestyle. Yet I don’t accept it’s a binary choice between skiing/designer clothes/fancy restaurants or Watford/CentreParcs/pizza express.

You should find far more interesting ways to save or spend the money you earn. Life is an experience, not a commute.

Being real is fun

100% agree. A career is about lifestyle, that’s what feeds your status, your wealth, your social circles, etc.

Join the conversation

Related Stories