Law - Introduction

Potential Careers


For those doing a qualifying law degree, pursuing postgraduate study to become a solicitor via the Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a popular option. A small number choose to start training to become a barrister via the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Taught Masters degrees are also a popular option with most courses reflecting a continued interest in the legal field eg International Law, Intellectual Property, European and International Business Law.

Although a large number of graduates go on to further study, many choose to enter employment. Some are employed as paralegals, legal assistants or in other associate legal roles to gain experience but others choose to pursue careers in quite different areas. Examples range from accountancy and financial management, banking and pensions administration through to retail management, recruitment consultancy and the Armed Forces. Those who combined their law degree with a language may choose careers which use their language skills for instance, in international business, translation or education abroad.

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LLB Law and Criminology

The LPC is a popular option for Law and Criminology graduates with a qualifying law degree, although a greater proportion choose to undertake Masters courses such as International Criminology and LLM in Corporate and Commercial Law; International Law and Global Justice; and European Law.

Others find work both in the legal profession, e.g. as paralegals, as well as in a range of other jobs where their degree subject is likely to have relevance such as work in prisons, probation services or the police, either as an officer or in research. Others choose to work in areas which deal with financial crime in banks or with the Financial Ombudsman, for example. Some graduates choose to work in areas not commonly associated with their degree, using their transferable skills to work in areas as diverse as chartered accountancy, sales, marketing and teaching English as a foreign language.

Masters students

Possession of a postgraduate Masters may increase your chances of getting into a related field as it can demonstrate commitment and genuine interest. Many employers will still seek relevant work experience to complement your academic achievements. A Masters degree also increases a graduate’s likelihood of progressing into research programmes or positions in universities or research institutes.

BA Social Policy and Criminology

Not all students studying in the Law School undertake qualifying law degrees. Those doing BA Social Policy and Criminology tend to move into careers associated with their degree such as housing officer, welfare support worker, debt adviser, youth work, schools project work or working for a relevant charity in outreach or fundraising. Others will opt to go into postgraduate study relating to their degree. As with all law graduates, some social policy and criminology graduates go into careers where they are using their personal attributes and transferable skills rather than their discipline-specific knowledge. Such graduates choose careers ranging from business and finance through to IT and local government administration.

A number of Law graduates from all courses are also working in non-graduate positions six months after graduation, mainly in administrative, retail and customer service roles, developing further skills and experience in preparation for their graduate career.

Step 1 - Look at the career paths of recent graduates

Understanding what recent graduates from your subject have gone on to do can be a valuable source of information to help in career planning, but bear in mind that what you choose to do will be a personal decision based on many other factors, such as what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what you want from work.

Understand yourself and your options

Read this section first, if you have not already done so, as it will help you explore these factors and get ideas for possible careers.

Law - what University of Sheffield graduates do six months after graduation

This data was collected six months after graduation, so although useful, it doesn't provide a reliable indicator of longer term career paths. Some graduates are still in transition and may be in short term jobs, mainly in administrative, retail and customer service roles, developing further skills and experience while at the same time job hunting, travelling or taking time out.

Graduate case studies

Our graduate case studies database allows you to search by department and read the case studies from graduates who describe their career path and provide a realistic insight into the world of work.

Step 2 - Research options linked to your subject

We have put together a number of resources to help with this.

Options with your subject - Law

Make a start by reading this section of the Prospects website and develop ideas on how best you can use your degree.

Explore types of jobs - Prospects

There are a number of obvious jobs that you may wish to consider such as solicitor or barrister for those undertaking a qualifying law degree or the police or probation service for those interested in criminology. However, there are many other alternatives. A large proportion of vacancies advertised to graduates are open to any degree subject so you should be prepared to explore all your options and be open to new career ideas, investigating roles with small companies (SMEs) as well as the large organisations you may already be familiar with.

Detailed profiles for specific occupations are available from Prospects which includes job descriptions, case studies, salary and conditions, entry requirements, training and typical employers and vacancies.

What else can I do with a law degree

If you are not interested in pursuing a career in law, this guide should help you think about the skills you have and the jobs they can be applied to.

Search courses and research

If you are interested in postgraduate study, a good place to start is Prospects which offer a database of courses and research opportunities.

Graduates with a qualifying law degree can pursue a career as a solicitor by undertaking the Legal practice Course (LPC) or as a barrister via the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Those without a qualifying law degree must first do the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). Other graduates might progress into a number of different postgraduate study specialisms including International Law, Commercial or Corporate Law, Criminology, International Criminology, Intellectual Property or Law and Ethics.

Postgraduate Masters students may subsequently pursue a PhD or MPhil. In a few cases, it may be possible to progress directly into such postgraduate research from an undergraduate degree.

Step 3 - Search vacancy databases for jobs of interest

Career Connect

We advertise over 5000 vacancies each year for graduate jobs, placements, part-time, voluntary and vacation work.

Information resources

Our Information resources database includes a section covering a large number of general and regional graduate vacancy websites. Within the ‘Occupations’ section we include recruiters who specialise in a particular sector. Many professional organisations and government bodies also include vacancies as part of their website.

Other suggested vacancy sources

How to Become a Solicitor

Training Contract

Vacation Scheme

Commercial Awareness

Legal Work Experience

Philip - Law graduate