The road to a career in law
Becoming a lawyer can lead you to a fascinating and long career working in the criminal justice system. Lawyers are always needed by both individuals and organizations to deal with litigation relating to criminal and civil law.
You are probably familiar with the classic courtroom scenes for murder trials or for other serious offences, but courts more often than not deal with more mundane offences such as careless driving, non-payment of fines, theft or abusive behavior.
Civil courts deal with a range of litigation that may have arisen when an individual seeks financial restitution from a company, or vice versa.
Ways to get into a law career
Often, the best way to get into a career in law is by taking a legal degree or another type of legal qualification that will get you onto the first step of the ladder. Many degree courses in law are studied in the traditional way by attending a university or college and studying for a bachelor’s or master’s.
Nowadays, there are many online degree courses in law and other subjects that allow students to work remotely and at their own pace. There are tens of thousands of lawyers who have obtained law degrees and certificates by both traditional and online routes who work in the many legal disciplines that exist. To discover more, you can click here to learn about USC’s masters in LLM online program and begin to take the first steps to a qualification in law.
You don’t have to have a legal degree because law firms are always interested in people who have other types of degree, provided the student has received good results. Take a science degree as an example. The field of forensics is often an essential part of criminal trials, particularly when details are being investigated, and having a scientific background could be extremely useful in understanding or contributing to the evidence in such cases. You would receive training on the job with the law firm to equip you with the essential knowledge of the legal system that you would need.
Developing a career
The fascinating aspect of law is that it is forever changing. Governments frequently bring in new laws, and it is a lawyer’s job to keep on top of what is required in their particular field. Lawyers who have an accountancy background may wish to specialize in financial crime, whereas those with linguistic skills may want to go down the route of immigration or family law.
The legal field is extremely broad, which is why there are so many opportunities for the well trained to find a position and work their way up the profession.
One of the most familiar ways to start is as a trainee solicitor in an office, learning about procedures and carrying out basic research tasks such as gathering information on a case on behalf of a senior solicitor. Your job would be to make sure that no evidence escapes your eye, whether or not the firm is taking on a prosecution or defense case.
As you move onto being a fullyfledged solicitor, you will take on your own cases and make the decision as to whether you are more interested in the prosecuting or defense side of the law. As a solicitor, the best plan is to get a good mix of both, if you can, because it will help you if you decide that you want to move to take your bar exams and become a barrister.
Many solicitors decide not to become barristers because they have either built their own solicitors’ firm or risen to the top of an established one and have made a very lucrative career out of their work.
Barristers are advocates for one side or the other in more serious cases that have gone to the upper courts. They are highly experienced at putting arguments either for or against a defendant to a jury, so your skills in persuasion need to be finely honed. Barristers usually have to take a case that is assigned to them, which is why earlier work as solicitor working both sides of the courtroom can be extremely useful.
Barristers may also be appointed as judges by the government – the top of the profession and one with much gravitas and responsibility. A judge will sum up the evidence in a trial and may direct the jury, though not by telling them what a verdict should be.
A legal career offers boundless opportunities to work in the criminal justice system and can be fulfilling in work and personal terms as well as in terms of good remuneration.