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Getting into a legal career can be highly rewarding, but also very challenging – the process of getting from post-16 education through to a position as a solicitor, barrister, or a chartered legal executive can take a long time, and can be fairly expensive; given the current economy, though, it’s difficult to get into any popular profession without putting in sacrifices. Depending on what kind of legal career you want, where’s the best place to start?
It’s first important to consider what sort of legal career you want to pursue – solicitors, for example, offer legal advice and services to the public, and generally represent them in court, and work fro a private practice. By contrast, barristers don’t have as much direct contact with the public, and are hired to present cases in court. You can also go down the route of being a chartered legal executive with a specialist discipline, or you can gain experience and qualifications as a paralegal.
In terms of basic qualifications, you can progress to a Law undergraduate degree with a decent collection of GCSEs and A Levels, with Law at A Level being a good option; if you want to progress through to a more specialist legal position, rather than going through a full solicitor or barrister training process, you may want to take a NVQ Level 4 in Legal Practice to gain on the job experience.If you haven’t completed a law degree, you can apply to take a Graduate Diploma in Law course after an initial degree, which represents a one year fast track course that can allow you to pursue further training.
To be a solicitor, you’ll have to get a legal degree or Graduate Diploma, and should then complete a Legal Practice Course – the LPC is one year full time in length, and acts as a bridge between your academic studies and full-time work; much of the work covered on the LPC involves learning about real world situations and ethics – this can then be followed by applying to a position in a private practice, or as part of a public body.
By contrast, barristers typically obtain a law degree or equivalent, and then have to pass the Bar Professional Training Course – this covers one academic year, and is very rigorous in terms of the training and exams that it provides. Applications have to receive admission to an Inn of Court, and complete intensive training; after passing the Bar, you then have to find a pupillage with a senior barrister, which involves being supervised as you begin to take on regular work.
There is also the option of becoming a Chartered Legal Executive, which has less years of training than a solicitor or barrister course of study – CLEs can take law subjects and degrees, but can alternatively take a CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice, followed by a Level 6 fast track diploma – these courses tend to last a year or so, and provide training in specific areas of legal work, allowing Chartered Legal Executives to take up a role within a legal institution without necessarily having the same range of knowledge and qualifications as a solicitor.
Other legal career paths include being a paralegal – you don’t have to be qualified as a solicitor or take a Law degree, but can work as a legal secretary and assistant in different firms and bodies; paralegals need to have decent GCSEs and A Levels, and can complete City and can complete a CILEx Level 2 Executive Certificate in Legal Studies, with options to move through Level 3 and up to Level 6, with future career routes including being a Chartered Legal Executive, or undertaking more training to become a solicitor or barrister.
Author Bio :
Michael Taylor is a law student and blogger on law careers. He recommends the Hales Group for finding recruitment opportunities and placements.