Law and Criminology

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There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.

Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.

Generating career ideas with Law and Criminology

Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Law and Criminology graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs (Law barristers) and TargetJobs (Law solicitors), but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.

Some career ideas for Law graduates

Here is just one example of the diverse range of careers you can enter. Peter is a Law graduate, now working for Twinkl.


Solicitors provide expert legal support and advice on necessary courses of legal action having taken ‘instructions’ from a client/s. Clients can be individuals, groups, public sector organisations or private companies. You may work in private practice, in-house for commercial or industrial organisations, in local or central government or in the court service. The work varies depending on the setting, specialist area and the nature of the case. Solicitors usually specialise to advise in areas such as: personal/family issues, commercial work or protecting individuals’ rights.


Barristers are specialists in advocacy and represent individuals or organisations in court; they provide independent sources of legal advice. They are hired by solicitors to represent/provide advocacy for a case in a court where needed. Barristers plead the case on behalf of their client and the client's solicitor. Many barristers work on a self-employed basis in ‘chambers’ offices, while others work in government departments or agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government Legal Service but increasingly work in other organisations such as charities.

Chartered legal executive/paralegal

Carry out similar work to a solicitor so combine good analytical and communications skills with a strong interest in the law. Paralegals provide support to solicitors and barristers in a variety of law firms, chambers and in private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations. Their tasks often mirror the work of a trainee or recently qualified solicitor. Specific job titles can vary depending on the organisation and legal practice area; clerks, legal executives, legal assistants or caseworkers.

Patent attorney/examiner

Patent attorneys use their intellectual property legal knowledge to lead individual inventors or companies through the required process to obtain a patent, draft the patent and then act to enforce inventors' rights if patents are infringed. They work for a firm of patent agents, very large industrial organisations or government bodies. Patent Examiners, working for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) or the European Patent Office (EPO) are responsible for checking an invention is new, clear and inventive, not merely an adjustment to something already existing.

Civil servant - fast streamer

As a fast streamer, you'll gain a variety of experience through placements, projects or postings in any number of central government department agencies as well as non-departmental government bodies. You will work in front-line operational delivery, policy and corporate services, and often in roles involving direct contact with the public. You will join over 420,000 civil servants employed in the UK who are independent of government. Fast streamers are on an accelerated leadership development programme to becoming senior civil service leaders.

Some career ideas for Criminology graduates

Social worker

Social workers work with vulnerable people and families to support them through difficult times and help ensure they are safeguarded from harm. This role involves providing emotional and practical support, guidance and advocacy to improve people’s life outcomes. Based in a range of settings; service users own homes, schools, hospitals or other public sector or, increasingly third sector organisations, they comply with a framework of relevant legislation and procedures. They tend to specialise in either working with children & families or adults/older people.

Police officer/detective

Policemen and women work in partnership with the communities they serve to maintain law and order, assist and protect members of the public and their property, prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and improve the quality of life for all citizens. You'll use a range of technology to protect individuals, identify the perpetrators of crime and ensure successful prosecutions against those who break the law.

Prison officer

 A prison officer is responsible for the security, supervision, training and rehabilitation of people committed to prison by the courts. This includes motivating prisoners to do what is best for themselves and others around them within a safe and healthy environment. Prison officers establish and maintain positive working relationships with prisoners, balancing authority with understanding and compassion, in order to effect rehabilitation. The nature of the role demands thinking on your feet, making quick decisions and dealing effectively with unexpected situations.

Probation officer

Probation officers manage offenders in order to protect the public and reduce the incidence of reoffending. They work with offenders in courts, in communities and in custody to make communities safer. Probation officers interact with offenders, victims, police and prison service colleagues; collaborating with relevant statutory and voluntary agencies. You may manage enforce the conditions of community orders/alternatives to prison sentences. You will motivate offenders to engage in components such as unpaid community payback work or run alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes.

Youth worker

Youth workers guide and support young people in their personal, social and educational development to help them reach their full potential in society. You'll generally work with young people aged between 11 and 25 in a variety of settings such as colleges, faith-based groups, schools and youth centres.

Community development workers

Bring people together often from ‘disadvantaged’ or marginalised groups in society. As a community development worker you will help communities to bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area. You have goals to help to empower individuals, families and whole communities to increase positive health or educational outcomes. You will show a genuine passion for assisting others and understanding causes and ways to tackle structural inequalities. You may be employed by charities or local authorities.

Adult/education guidance workers

Often support young people or those undergoing a period of transition (such as redundancy or ill-health/disability issues) to think constructively about their career, learning and training opportunities. You will offer information, advice and guidance (IAG) on education, training and work options available and help clients make and implement well-informed and realistic decisions about their future. You may work in a team in a large organisation or as a sole operator in a voluntary group whose focus may be on ‘hard to reach’ or marginalised groups.

Subject specific resources