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Law careers for non-law students

The value of non-law students to employers

You don’t need a law degree to become a lawyer – in fact, non-law graduates are common in the modern legal profession, and the skills and experiences gained studying and working in other fields are assets that make you a strong candidate.

Non-law students can demonstrate their suitability for law via work experience and the skills they develop on their degrees. For example studying modern languages helps to develop global understandings of culture, science your logical thinking and history your research and analytical skills.

Conversion courses

A law conversion course is an intensive course that allows non-law graduates to acquire important legal knowledge developed by students completing a law degree. Usually a one year full-time course but flexible and part-time options are available. There are a number of different courses available but most common is the PGDL or CPE.

Note: Changes to qualification for Solicitors in autumn 2021 with the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) means it is no longer a requirement to complete a conversion course before completing the SQE. However, it is likely that the majority of non-law students will complete an appropriate conversion course or SQE preparation course to provide the foundation legal knowledge and successfully prepare for SQE assessment (stages 1 and 2).

There are no guarantees that qualifications alone mean success in securing a role as a Solicitor or Barrister. Alongside qualification, a keen grasp of the legal sector, relevant work experience, skill development and application technique are important at every stage. The following timeline can provide a structure to support you in achieving this - but remember it’s never too late, the average age of solicitor qualification is 29.6 years.

Your journey into the law profession will be unique to you and may not be linear. If you are uncertain about a career in law being right for you or need time to prepare for entry, you may consider taking time out after your undergraduate degree to develop relevant skills and experience.


First year

Explore your interests & understanding of legal careers

Use the information in our introduction to the legal sector to:

  • Research different areas of law - develop your understanding of why you are interested in law- think about the kind of law that interests you - commercial, family, crime are all practices that are very different and organisational culture of firms can be different. See Prospects: Areas of law and Chambers Student: Practice areas
  • Understand roles - do you want to work in a large organisation with a team of solicitors and paralegals or the relative solitude of working independently as a barrister?
  • Be aware of the different training routes into Law for Solicitors, Paralegals, Barristers
  • Consider what skills are important for lawyers

Develop experience

Set your preferences on myAdvantage to legal sector to get alerts for legal opportunities

On campus
Other skill development opportunities
Off campus
  • Attending court - visit a court to understand how they operate and observe cases
  • Citizens Advice Bureau - volunteering opportunities
  • Marshalling
  • Events
  • Part-time jobs which develop customer service or administrative skills
  • Blog writing
  • Consider organisations supporting aspiring law professionals e.g. Bright Network, Rare Recruitment and Aspiring Solicitors (see diversity and representative groups)
  • Work shadowing - during your first year consider making speculative approaches to local firms. To find small firms use Find A Solicitor and Find A Solicitor in Scotland
  • Keeping in touch with the news and legal news- reading blogs, news, podcasts - BBC; law portal
  • Virtual internships - accessing online opportunities

Penultimate year

Develop your experience, refine your ideas, set preferences on myAdvantage to legal sector to get alerts for legal opportunities. See first year and additionally:

  • Join a law society - open to non-law students
  • Continue networking and attending events with firms on campus in preparation for interviews - see myAdvantage for events
  • Understand breadth of legal opportunities including regional firms and in-house opportunities and public sector
  • Look for opportunities to secure an executive role on university societies to demonstrate relevant skills such as leadership
  • Understand your individual skill gaps - book an appointment with a Senior Careers Consultant if you need further support
  • Ensure you can clearly articulate your personal motivation for the legal sector
  • Understand the timelines for any insight days and vacation schemes
  • Begin researching individual firms, understand their culture, values and practice areas and what differentiates them. Consider how you fit with these aspects
  • Look out for competitions and pro bono work
  • Develop your commercial awareness- through work experience and staying abreast of legal news
  • Continue with engagement in part-time jobs and other extra-curriculars
  • Think beyond obvious legal experience, if interested in commercial law consider work with commercial companies, interested in the media- secure work experience in media organisations
  • Start to research legal conversion courses
  • Pupillage – explore and apply for openings for mini pupillages
  • In your penultimate year start to practice psychometric tests in preparation for autumn term applications

Final year

Make applications, understand the legal recruitment market.

  • Join a law society - open to non-law students
  • Continue to research firms to fully grasp their specific expertise, practice areas and organisational culture and refine your motivations for a specific firm
  • Meet employers and attend events- research the firm using internet resources before meeting them on campus and at virtual events – as a minimum law firms will expect you to have an understanding of their practice areas
  • Refine and keep abreast of commercial awareness in preparation for applications
  • Be able to articulate your personal reasons for a career in law. Understand your individual skills, strengths and motivations for the application process
  • Apply for vacation schemes and training contracts or mini pupillages - be clear on deadlines
  • Secure support and advice on applications - workshops (see myAdvantage) and one to one appointments
  • Apply for conversion courses and or SQE prep courses
  • Investigate funding for postgraduate courses - see Chambers Student: How to fund law school
  • Reach out to useful alumni contacts for support and advice - you can also use LinkedIn to search for alumni working at your target firms
  • Continue to develop skills and legal experience as previously specified in first and penultimate years
  • Prepare and practise for interviews, including case studies, through events on myAdvantage and online resources

Book into a careers appointment if you:

  • have not managed to gain relevant experience
  • don’t meet academic entry requirements
  • have not secured a training contract by the end of your final year
  • are not entirely sure if law is for you
  • don’t have a place on a conversion course
  • are confused about your next steps
  • want support disclosing any extenuating circumstances