A Non-Law Student's Guide to Law
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
No matter what your degree is, whether it be Music, Maths, or Classics, there is a place for you in
As a non-law student, it can be difficult to know when, where, or how to pursue the legal career path. Here are a few myth busters which show that your subject of choice at university is only one aspect of an application:
1. Most law firms aim to recruit 50% law/non-law students for vacation schemes and training contracts.
2. If firms are hiring non-law students, they are not looking to hire a legal machine. They favour students and graduates they can get along with.
3. Firms are also looking for diversity - in background, experience, and perspective. Your non-law degree can be a considerable contribution to the way you think and approach legal issues in an inventive manner.
4. Legal work experience is not absolutely necessary! Any form of work experience/volunteering/ extra-curricular activities says something about YOU as an individual, and helps to develop a wide array of transferable skills. From being a waiter/waitress in your local pub, to volunteering at your local food bank: the transferable skills such as teamwork, organisation, and leadership, can be used in the legal industry. So have a good think about your work experience before you discard it for not being legally relevant.
BOOSTING YOUR LEGAL APPLICATIONS:
Vacation Schemes - (penultimate / final year).
• Vacation Schemes range in length between two and four weeks of work experience with a law firm. Participants are usually paid between £350 and £450 a week. The selection process is rigorous for these schemes since the majority can lead to an offer of a training contract following participation in the scheme. Some firms recruit for the training contract DIRECTLY from vacation scheme participants, e.g. Mischon de Reya.
Insight Days - (first / penultimate / final year).
• Insight Days are a fantastic opportunity to meet law firms in a more casual setting in which you can ask questions and find out more about the culture of the firm. Take note that some firms assess your performance and networking skills during an Insight Day in order to fast-track you to a later stage of the Vacation Scheme recruitment process, e.g. DLA Piper.
Brand Ambassador positions (first / penultimate / final year).
• A role as Brand Ambassador is a great way to gain legal experience at such an early stage of one’s legal career. There is the opportunity to create and maintain lasting relationships with firms, and, the possibility to fast-track to a later stage of the Vacation Scheme recruitment process, e.g. Herbert Smith Freehills. Most applications close in the summer.
Mini-pupillage - (non-law applicants must have started the GDL to apply).
• Mini-pupillages are an opportunity to gain an insight into life at the Bar. Mini-pupillages tend to last between one and five days.
Virtual Internships - (The Forage / Legal Cheek Virtual Vacation Scheme / Bright Network Commercial Law Virtual Experience Programme).
• Virtual Vacation Schemes are a way of gaining more experience in the legal industry in the current climate of the pandemic. These internships are accessible to all and are becoming more abundant as we move in and out of lockdowns.
Volunteering in the legal industry, eg. Citizens Advice Bureau.
• The Citizens Advice Bureau provides a taste of pro bono legal work, by advising members of the public on matters regarding tax bill payment, benefits research, and understanding a client’s housing rights.
Joining University Societies
• University societies allow great opportunities to attend exclusive events and talks with excellent speakers. They are also a forum for engaging with like-minded people who have similar aspirations. The skills gained from being a team member or on the committee of a society will enhance your application.
Non-Law Work Experience - (any year).
• Insight into Strategy and Management
• The Oxford Strategy and Consulting Agency (TOSCA)
• Hospitality industry work
• Secretarial work
The most common institutions to study for the GDL and LPC are the University of Law and BPP Law School, which have several locations across the country. However, most City firms will require you to take the course in a London-based institution, such as BPP Holborn. The GDL is available as a course at several non-specialist Universities such as the University of Sheffield, Oxford Brookes, and the University of Westminster, however, the specialist law universities may provide more support in gaining training contracts through connections between the institution and partner firms.
The Oxford University Careers Service: https://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/sectors-and occupations#widget-id-1510466
Application Help / Deadlines
• Legal Cheek: https://www.legalcheek.com
• The Lawyer: https://jobs.thelawyer.com
• The Lawyer Portal: https://www.thelawyerportal.com
• Lex 100: https://www.lex100.com
• The Chambers Student: https://www.chambersstudent.co.uk
• Bright Network: https://www.brightnetwork.co.uk
Work Experience / Volunteering / Societal Opportunities
• Citizens Advice Bureau: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
• The Forage: https://www.theforage.com/dashboard
• The Oxford Law Society: https://www.oxfordlawsoc.com
• Oxford Commercial Awareness Society: https://www.ox-cas.co.uk
• Oxford Junior Lawyers Against Poverty: https://www.facebook.com/OxfordJLAP/
• BPP: https://www.bpp.com
• The University of Law: https://www.law.ac.uk/