Law continues to be an increasingly popular course to study at university but this excess of law courses, paired with a decrease in Training Contracts and Pupillages, leaves a career in the legal profession an expensive risk to take. With over 200,000 lawyers already practicing in the UK, as well as graduates from the past decade still seeking training contracts, it often feels as though there is too much competition and no room for new lawyers. As a Law student, this can be demotivating to hear and may make you wonder if it is even worth studying Law.
Most sectors, aside from supermarkets and online shopping, are suffering to stay afloat during this pandemic. With the rise in domestic abuse and housing disputes, there is still a need for family and housing legal advisors, but potentially there is a decrease in the need for commercial lawyers. In the past, following a recession, there has been a period of growth which sees the need for more lawyers as businesses start up again. I am optimistic that following COVID-19, there will again be that demand for Commercial solicitors.
The other concern for law students, beyond the immense competition, is the alarming costs to qualify. With an LPC and BPTC costing up to £17,000, as well as your degree and maintenance leaving you in £60,000 debt, Law is not always a viable career choice. However, the introduction of the SQE, as well as the recently modified BPTC, has offered both cheaper and more flexible routes to qualification. These changes in the routes to qualification are all part of making the legal profession more accessible and diverse.
In light of all the challenges law graduates currently face and will continue to face, there are organisations offering services to help see more security post-graduation. For example, Aspiring Solicitors offers mentorship for students from under-represented and aims to increase diversity in the legal profession. Participating in free competitions such as the AS and BIUCAC Commercial Awareness ones and attending networking events are accessible ways to boost your CV and increase your chances of employability. It is obvious now that securing a first-class degree is often times still not enough to ensure success in the legal profession. All the additional efforts to further your legal knowledge and experience are what will make you stand out. Of course, it must be acknowledged, that balancing a full-time law degree, a part-time job, maintaining a social life and still seeking extra events and opportunities to further your career is far easier said than done. Undoubtedly, time management is an essential skill for anyone hoping to pursue a career in the legal profession.
Work placements and vacation schemes have decreased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes gaining work experience even more challenging. This means law students are having to get creative. Whether this means emailing CVs to non-legal companies and asking if it’s possible to shadow their legal team or completing scheduled work experience over video call. It will be interesting to see if more placement opportunities arise next year, whether these are held in person or online.
Overall, the legal profession is constantly changing and adapting to keep pace with the economy and demands for lawyers in different sectors. This sometimes means there are surplus of law graduates and not enough work, but employability post-grad is still a strong possibility if you take advantage of all the free events and can demonstrate that even in a crisis you are being proactive.