If you’re considering a job in the legal profession, the outlook is positive.
Wanting to have a legal career is a wonderful aspiration. It’s a rewarding career, no matter what area you work in. But it can be tricky to know where to start. The legal profession is exploding, which means it’s an in-demand career, especially as there are so many areas in which to work.
With the right qualifications and experience, you could become a law consultant, work in negotiation and conflict resolution, business law, government or politics, become a journalist or, of course, become a lawyer, barrister, or even a judge.
So, how can you get your foot in the legal door?
- Consider whether you’re the right fit
It’s all well and good to want to do law, but are you the right fit for the profession? Every job can be stressful and a legal career is no exception. Of course, it depends what area of the profession you end up working in and what job you end up finding but it’s important to be honest about whether you can make it in the legal world. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and be objective when you think about your skill set, communication skills, ability to adhere to deadlines, organisational abilities and attention to detail, as these are all areas where you’ll need to be a strong candidate.
- Get the right qualifications
Most jobs in the legal profession will require some form of qualifications and training. In some areas, you’ll need an advanced degree or professional certification, while others will require a certificate or diploma. While getting the right qualifications gives you the knowledge and skills you need, it also shows how committed you are to forging the right legal path. Depending on the qualification, you may also be given an opportunity for work experience in a legal firm or department of your choosing. Of course, there are plenty of careers in law that don’t require a degree, if you don’t want to go down the university or school route. Just make sure you’re looking at all of your options.
- Figure out the right field for you
Understanding your strengths will go a long way to figuring out where you should be working and in what area of law. For example, if you have experience or expertise in another field such as nursing, journalism or accounting, this may impact how you want to move forward in your legal profession. Those with a journalism background, for example, may be able to work in policy or consulting for media companies, or those with a medical background may find their niche working with a hospital or pharmaceutical company. All expertise counts. Leverage what you have.
- Network with the right people
One of the best ways to research the legal profession is to talk to those already working in it. Word of mouth and connecting with the right people can have a huge impact on your career progression. Go through your little black book and see whether there’s anyone you can reach out to on a personal level. It’s also worthwhile finding a mentor who can educate you regarding all areas of the legal profession – from benefits to challenges. They can also help you get your foot in the door if you wish. Many law firms already have established mentoring programs if you need a place to start.
- Embrace technology
No matter what area of the legal profession you want to work in, you’ll need to understand technology and the digital world. Technological advancements are revolutionising the legal industry. Whether you’re a lawyer, paralegal, consultant, legal secretary, or support personnel, people with a tech-savvy mind and outlook have a significant advantage. Remember, a lot of jobs are now accounting for work-from-home capabilities – in fact, there are some roles in the legal world that are perfect for remote working – so embracing the digital world is crucial.
- Get some on-the-job experience
There’s no experience like on-the-ground, direct work experience. It’s all well and good to read books, study for exams and be able to recite facts from memory, but nothing will prepare you for a job in the legal industry better than shadowing a legal professional or working in a legal department. Many universities and law firms offer internships, clerkships or work experience programs. But if there’s nothing official on offer, don’t let it stop you. Going and getting a placement yourself shows just how keen you are to understand the inner workings of the profession. Work experience provides you with insider knowledge including what a typical work day looks like and gives you the opportunity to ask questions of those who are in the know.
If you’re considering a job in the legal profession, the outlook is positive. Legal professionals are in high demand as the industry starts to embrace new products and services, and adapts to an ever-changing world.
So, what are you waiting for? Kick start your legal career now.