Skills for career development
As independent learners, law graduates have developed literacy, communication, problem solving, presentation, numeracy, cognitive and organisational skills, and can apply an academically coherent methodology to current debates in law. This is excellent preparation for a career as a legal professional and is also an asset for many careers such as roles in finance, commerce, human resources, education, local and central government, the voluntary sector or management.
Studying law opens up many career options, whether in law or law-related fields, including solicitor, barrister, legal executive and paralegal. Solicitors and barristers usually work in private practice, in central or local government, commerce, industry, the armed forces or in professional bodies.
In England and Wales
Becoming a Barrister
If you wish to become a barrister, you require a degree which covers the seven Foundations of Legal Knowledge (contract law, tort law, public law, criminal law, trusts law, land law and European Union law). This will exempt you from the academic stage of training and you can progress to the required professional training. However, for intending barristers, a minimum honours degree classification of 2:2 is required.
There are strict time limits for those wishing to become a barrister and as a graduate – claiming credit transfer for a previous degree – you must complete the required modules (240 credits in total) within six years. If exceptional circumstances prevent you from completing the degree within this timescale you can apply for an extension, which is typically one further year. If you don’t intend to become a barrister, the six-year time limit does not apply.
There is a further period of professional training required, followed by practical work experience, before becoming qualified to practice as a barrister.
Becoming a Solicitor
If you wish to become a solicitor, you do not require a law degree. Your degree can be in any subject. You’ll have to pass both assessments forming the national Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE1 and SQE2) and pass the Solicitors Regulation Authority character and suitability requirements. You'll also need to have two years’ qualifying work experience.
In Northern Ireland
If you wish to become a barrister or solicitor, you will require a degree which covers the seven Foundations of Legal Knowledge and evidence law. This will exempt you from the academic stage of training and you can progress to the required professional training. For intending barristers, a minimum honours degree classification of 2:1 is required.
There are strict time limits for those wishing to become a barrister or solicitor. Please see the Application Booklet for the Institute of Professional Legal Practice at The Queens University of Belfast. If you don’t intend to become a barrister or solicitor, the time limits will not apply.
There is a further period of professional training required, followed by practical work experience, before admission as a solicitor.
The knowledge and skills you will gain from studying this degree are recognised and highly respected by employers outside the legal profession. Roles in finance, human resources, local government or general management all benefit from a legal background and from the discipline of studying law.
Other relevant jobs include Citizens Advice Bureau caseworker, Crown Prosecution Service caseworker, magistrates' court legal adviser, court reporter or administrator, licensed conveyancer, patent attorney, trademark agent, teacher, or lecturer in law.
Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience.
- barrister's clerk
- legal executive
- legal cashier
- legal secretary
- civil servant
- company secretary
- patent attorney
- tax adviser.