Legal wannabes urged to rethink

June 18, 1999

University careers advisers are warning law undergraduates they may never get the chance to work in the legal profession. But they say there is evidence that a large proportion of law graduates go on to find fulfilling jobs in other fields.

Approximately 16,000 students are eligible each year to go on

to professional legal training having completed their university courses.

But the legal profession is able to absorb only 5,000 new members a year -- and many of them will be non-law graduates.

Richard Lidwell of Hull University's Career and Appointments Service and Rose Conway of Bristol University Careers Service carried out a survey of law graduates from 12 universities. It established where the cohort went to work at six and 18 months after graduation.

They found that the graduates entered a wide range of careers outside the legal profession, including administration, accountancy, IT and management.

"The initial results show the graduates in 13 different occupational areas employed in a variety of roles," the report finds.

"Furthermore, the majority of these graduates were finding considerable satisfaction in their work and were often achieving responsibilities at a faster rate than their counterparts," the report continues.

Of the 214 employed graduates whose work history was known, 51 supplied more detailed information. Of these, 84 per cent indicated that they had made use of their law degrees either directly or indirectly.

Just over half saw their careers developing within their current position.

Asked whether they still wished to become a solicitor or barrister, 37 said no, although four said they had not ruled out pursuing a career in law after a break.

Some 43 of those surveyed said they had once intended to be a

lawyer.

"We are trying to get the message across to young people that the writing is not on the wall that you are going to become a lawyer," said Ms Conway, who specialises in legal careers advice.

She said the survey was aimed at informing undergraduates about the reality of finding further legal training and was not designed to put them off taking law degrees.

"We want them to feel positive about using their law degrees in areas other than the legal profession," she said.

Survey of Law Graduates in Careers other than Law was produced with the help of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and the Law Careers Advice Network. It is available from Richard Lidwell at Hull University, tel 01482 465481.

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