Just because you’ve completed significant legal education doesn’t mean it’s essential that you get a job in law. It may actually be the best thing for you to actually NOT work in law. After all, we all know that academic law, and practical law are very different things. Legal training is useful in many professions.
But a major hurdle is getting over the “I’ve put in all this effort and money – I don’t want it to go to waste” thought. I know it was for me. I thought I’d be “quitting” and making myself look like a flip flopper in front of my friends and family. Those who I’d so confidently proclaimed “I want a career in law” to previously.
However that wasn’t a helpful way of thinking. I’d got significant work experience in the legal sector, and although I did like it, I didn’t love it. Definitely not as much as I did studying law academically. I wasn’t sure I could see myself doing it for the rest of my career. If I thought that then, what would I think in 5, 10, 20 years? The problem was made worse by the fact that it was one of the worst climates for graduates in history. Although I would have been able to get a training contract with a few years more experience, I’m not sure I had the drive knowing I’d be doing it all for a career I knew I wouldn’t love, but just tolerate.
So I’m actually glad for the tough graduate climate which existed (especially) a few years ago. Otherwise I may have got a training contract relatively quickly and be in a career I knew deep down inside wasn’t for me. Although if that was the case, I’m sure I’d have tried to lie to myself a fair bit!
Right now I work for myself by running my own eCommerce business which sell guitar equipment (you can read more about this on my about.me profile). I love it. But this isn’t a blog post about how great working for yourself is. It’s more about how what I learnt during my time studying law has really helped, any maybe how I should have kept my mind open a little sooner.
Now it’s impossible to say that if it wasn’t for my legal education, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. But I believe that it certainly gave me the confidence to start my own business. You really feel like you’ve accomplished something special when you’ve got a decent score on your LLB/GDL. You feel like if you can do that, then you can do anything. But I also found that a law degree helped me think in a certain way. It helped with my decision making processes and justifications for the actions I take. It helped me make the right decisions more often than not.
I’m sure without legal education my thinking would be based a little bit more on “feelings” or “hunches” like a detective from a 90s cop show. When picking products to sell, that’s a really bad idea! But my legal education made me justify all my choices to myself. I needed evidence and sound reasoning to back up my business based decisions.
And then there’s the more obvious stuff. The legal knowledge which law gave me such as knowledge of contracts. The ability to dissect complex information, whether it’s in the form of a new selling regulation, or just teaching yourself about shipping, customs or marketing was essential. After getting your head around an especially complex case or rule of law, this stuff seemed much easier.
Then there’s old fashioned hard work. As a GDL student the workload was brutal. So was the pressure. Again after studying law the pressure and work load in the practical world didn’t seem too bad.
All of that stuff wasn’t just beneficial for what I’m doing. It’s beneficial for all sorts of career, whether you’re working for yourself, as part of a big corporation, or everything in between.
So what I’m trying to say is keep your options open. Don’t think that the legal sector is your only choice; give yourself more credit than that. Also don’t feel like you must get a job in law, it’s possible that you’ll be much happier and more successful doing something else.
Especially if you’ve only done the GDL / LLB (this doesn’t apply as much if you’ve done the LPC), don’t think it must go into a legal career. Have a broader approach and think of all the possible other careers out there. The fact is the real world of law isn’t at all like the undergraduate course. Do all English students become authors? Do all History student become historians? No. It may be helpful to think as your undergraduate course as closer to these subjects than a subject like Medicine where you are heading towards a specific goal. I don’t think undergraduate Law is like Medicine at all in that respect.
I’m not going to sit here and list all the potential careers you can go into, because it’s practically anything. Actually I can’t think of a career where law wouldn’t be a massive benefit.
The Future of Studying Law
As I said, I’ve been running my eCommerce website full time for the past year or so. It has taken a lot of time and effort but now that I’ve got various systems in place and actually know what I’m doing, it’s taking up less time. So that means I can actually update this site a bit. I’m sure the information is getting a bit out of date so I’ll be revamping the articles a bit. I’ll hopefully add more articles too.
As for this blog, it’s a bit of a problem. Because this blog was meant to be more about personal experiences in law. And because I’m not experiencing anything in the legal sector, there’s nothing for me to write about. Hopefully there is someone out there who’d like to blog about their experiences in legal education / work. If that’s you then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There was a way to automatically set up a blog on the site but it got abused by spammers, so just ask me directly.