This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Law Careers So you want to be a… lawyer

First Eleven looks at degrees that can prepare you for more than one career in life. Oundle’s Head of Careers, Carolyn Gent talks about law


he first thing to do is to distinguish between law as an academic discipline and law as a profession.

An aspiration to be a lawyer in the future does not mean that you must or even should read law at university. Equally, reading Law does not mean that you have to practise as a lawyer; there are few more highly regarded disciplines. Many firms, including some of the most prestigious London firms and chambers, recruit non-law graduates or those who combined law with another discipline, such as a European or Oriental language. Not all degrees with “law” in the

title are “qualifying law degrees” exempting would-be practitioners from the Graduate Diploma in Law (the “conversion course”). All qualifying law degrees cover the seven exemption subjects: Constitutional Law, Equity, Contract, Criminal, Tort, Land and European Union Law. If you wish to move straight to the post-graduate professional qualifications, check that your undergraduate course leads to a qualifying law degree. Failure to do so is potentially expensive and adds a year of study.

Which university? This is a matter of personal choice. Open days and informal visits are crucial. There are annual Law Conferences for sixth formers at Oxford, Cambridge and taster courses at London and the University of East Anglia, among others. When it comes to recruitment, firms and chambers tend to mention the Russell Group, but they are also positive about several “new” universities, including the University of the West of

England (in Bristol), Oxford Brookes, and Nottingham Trent. Admissions Officers are invariably looking for academic rigour and very high grades (typically A*AA – AAA for the top universities). Subjects like English or History are useful for demonstrating skills in analysis and evaluation, in handling large amounts of text, and in structuring clear, reasoned, linear arguments. Subjects like Science and Maths can be equally relevant, however, as they promote problem solving and lateral thinking. Several universities use pre-tests.

Cambridge has its own test, sat at the University, and others use LNAT (the National Admissions Test for Law), sat at test centres nationwide. Sample tests are available on the Cambridge University and LNAT websites respectively. Neither requires any specialist legal knowledge; they are looking for the ability to think in a particular way.

Law requires good communication skills,

How to succeed on paper and at interview Law is a rigorous academic subject. Universities look for application, motivation and the capacity for sustained and intense work. Candidates who have expressed their interest in the subject by shadowing lawyers or visiting court are favourably regarded and if you organised your placement yourself this shows initiative and motivation. Law requires good communication

the ability to express ideas clearly and effectively, to listen and to give considered responses

passage, and understand two or more sides of an argument? You will have to demonstrate reasoning ability – can you analyse and solve problems using logical and critical approaches, draw fine distinctions, separate the

relevant from the irrelevant? Do you

have a capacity for accuracy, and for creativity and flexibility of thought? At interview, these skills are often

tested. Commonly a brief law report may be given to the applicant. No legal knowledge will be required, but you may be asked what the case is about. You may then be asked to pick out the main arguments. On which side did the Judge come down and why?

skills, the ability to express ideas clearly and effectively, to listen and to give considered responses. Can you formulate, express and defend an opinion? Can you extract the salient points from a written

How can you prepare? Attend court and shadow lawyers. Debate, do a mock trial, use your initiative to build the relevant skills. Above all, start early and be methodical in your approach.

Autumn 2011 FirstEleven 45

Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84