Students and graduates in the dark about legal opportunities

Graduate recruitment service Milkround asked more than 100 students and graduates across the spectrum of degrees for their views on the legal industry, and found they don’t know the opportunities available to them or the potential earnings on offer.

Despite being a popular career choice with 84 percent considering law as their profession, many have not looked into the entry requirements.

Although anyone entering the legal industry has to start as a trainee and work for several years to qualify, law firms will often consider graduates from all degrees as potential employees.

Yet 53 percent of respondents to the Milkround.com survey said they didn’t know subjects other than law were accepted by legal companies.

London is the location of choice among aspiring lawyers: 72 percent would choose to work in the capital. England’s southern regions and midlands were the next most popular career destinations with 20 percent earmarking them as possibilities.

There seems to be a gap between what the legal industry offers graduates and the perceptions of the current crop. The respondents to the survey suggest students and graduates have lower expectations for their starting salaries in the legal world than they should be able to achieve.

Despite many trainee wages being as high as £35,000, 23 percent expect to earn between £25,000 and £30,000 while a further 28 percent think they’ll receive £20,000 to £25,000.

Potential legal workers won’t skimp on hours: more than two in five are prepared to work between 40 and 45 hours a week and another quarter would expect to clock in 55 to 60 hours.

Despite the long hours, three quarters claim a good work/life balance would be fairly or very important, some 22 percent said it would not be important for them.

Richard de Friend, Chair of the Academic Board at The College of Law said: “It’s significant that so many of the respondents to this survey appear to be unaware of the variety of routes into law, because most leading law firms and barristers’ chambers welcome the broader education and experience that non-law graduates can bring to the profession.”

Graduates without a law degree can enter the legal profession by completing a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). The College of Law’s GDL focuses on addressing the commercial realities of today’s legal environment and equipping its students with the practical skills they need when they enter the legal profession.

“Our GDL is designed to build knowledge and skills that more than match a law degree,” said Richard.

“The course has been designed in consultation with law firms and places a heavy emphasis on developing the students’ lawyering skills, including problem solving, analysis and research, in a commercial context. The ‘Preparing for Practice’ module, unique to the College, uses practical, problem-based learning focusing on real-life cases and work situations.”

Students who successfully complete both the GDL and Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Vocational Course (BVC) with the College are awarded a Bachelor of Laws degree, the LL.B, at no extra cost.

Milkround.com spokesman Mike Barnard added: “It’s surprising that so many students and graduates are unaware they can get into the legal sector: it offers some of the best starting wages and top job prospects on a very clear career trajectory. As a result, they could be overlooking their best job option to suit their skills.”

Milkround.com also asked respondents not interested in legal careers for their views of the industry. Among the 16 percent of those surveyed who aren’t interested in a legal career, the issues of long hours did not even register.

The biggest single concern based on the job was a lack of interesting work which two in five complained about, while six percent were worried about finding work.

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