How to study law and avoid becoming a lawyer
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How to study law and avoid becoming a lawyer

So, you want to study law? Great news! You’re about to buy yourself a one-way ticket to a long, long life as Atticus Finch. Or Elle Woods– whichever you’d prefer. Law is a great choice; it has such a stress-free career trajectory that you don’t even have to think about. Law students can only go on to be lawyers! Simples

…or it would be if all of the above wasn’t, in fact, entirely untrue.

‘Transferable skills’ is a phrase bandied about so freely among students that most would probably like to scribble it all over their CV, craft said CV into a beautiful origami crane and hurl it off the 13th floor or a tall building. Like it or not, however, transferability is a significant asset of the lowly law degree. Trained to assimilate large amount of information, think under pressure, maintain motivation and self-discipline and manage difficult clients, ‘legal beagles’ have a surprising number of careers at their feet.

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Pic: Faculty of Law, University of Waikato.

Times are changing. Today’s global society and its industrial requirements are shifting rapidly, resulting in change even for professions as apparently traditional as law. Of course, technological advancement has a role to play; UK law firms didn’t increase their numbers of graduate vacancies this year- yet the number of entry-level positions at technical companies increased by 17.9% between 2012 and 2013.

Bad news for law graduates, you say? Not so fast; ‘transferable skill sets’ could save the day. Think about it: law graduates are an intelligent bunch who are trained to construct compelling arguments, dissect and manipulate language and analyse hugely complex scenarios. If they can do all that, surely they must be qualified for a range of positions from a broad spectrum of industries? Spot on. Read on to discover five jobs which prove that the long arm of the law is longer than you think…

1. Human Resources Director/Manager

A Human Resources (HR) Manager’s mission is to support their company’s HR department by overseeing employee relations and and improving human resources policies and practices. Such individuals are also responsible for assessing recruitment strategies and keeping tabs on new recruits to ensure that they integrate and operate successfully as part of the business over time. The organisational, time-management and communication skills cultivated by law students are, therefore, ideally suited to this sort of role. Legal training also proves hugely useful to HR professionals, as they are also required to ensure that their company is adhering to government regulations and requirements. Perfect!

2. Online Intellectual Property/Online Security Specialist

As has already been mentioned, technology-based firms are currently experiencing a significant period of growth- but that isn’t cause for law graduates to despair. In a recent interview with the Guardian, Lindsy McGowan, a Senior Manager at Hays Legal, commented:

“Advances in technology mean law graduates have new opportunities to specialise in areas like intellectual property, privacy, and software and business method patents. Recent high profile security breaches, personal identity thefts and data thefts have created demand for this area of law, as businesses prioritise safeguarding customer and business information.”

So, if you’re a law buff with a passion for all that’s new in the technical sphere, you’re in luck; it looks like this sector is in need of graduates with legal backgrounds who can provide up-to-date information and interpret legal frameworks for new products.

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Pic: School of Law, Golden Gate University.

3. Project Manager

To succeed as a project manager, efficiency, organisation, communication and confident leadership are essential. These hugely important members of staff are responsible for overseeing projects from start to finish, and for ensuring that objectives are met by dividing, delegating and overseeing all necessary activities. Leading the management of staffing, scheduling, budgeting and quality control, project managers are required across virtually every industry, from engineering and manufacturing to publishing and consumer goods. High-flying lawyers, therefore, having honed their leadership, time-management and organisational skills, can get stuck into project management and bask in the rewarding pressure of feeling accountable.

4. Content Writer

Surprising, right? While content writers don’t usually assume senior roles, they undoubtedly enjoy busy, varied creative careers that are key to the operation of their companies. This breed of professional word-smith focuses on producing engaging content across a range of channels, promoting their company’s brand and improving their marketing strategies across the board.

But how, you ask, does legal training segue into content production? For starters, lawyers are trained to be good with words. When working as part of a business, content writers’ areas of responsibility are certainly not limited to blog posts and newsletters; the vast majority of companies require compliance and internal regulatory documentation, which requires familiarity with the same sort of jargon and complex language as that which is encountered during law degree. Open that Google Doc and get to work!

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Pic: UC Hastings College of Law.

5. Government Official or Politician

Question: what do Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have in common- other than the fact that they’re super-powerful and super-famous? Answer: they’re all hugely influential political figures with law degrees. Politics has long been a popular choice of professional sphere among law graduates, who find that their capacity for critical analysis, complex problem-solving and teamwork match the requirements of a politician perfectly. Of course, lawyers need not worry that the only option they have is to fight to be the next President; roles such as legal recruitment specialists, policy analysts, social commentators and political strategists also lend themselves to lawyers’ highly developed ability to delve deeper and assess the intricacies of complex situations.

Clearly, law enthusiasts, the world is your prospect-saturated oyster! Now, where can you get yourselves one of these amazingly useful law degrees?

TE PIRINGA – FACULTY OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO – NEW ZEALAND

Ranked among the top 150 law schools in the world, Te Piringa – Faculty of Law is dedicated to providing its students with the highest quality, student-focused practical legal education. The Faculty’s comprehensive LLB & LLM programmes are taught with a focus on national, international and multicultural law, in a climate where the Faculty’s scholars are actively engaged in teaching, research and publication. Te Piringa – Faculty of Law selects its students carefully and commits to the successful completion of their studies. This means that all students receiving an offer to study in the first year have a chance to successfully complete their degree. Read the full profile.

HASTINGS COLLEGE OF THE LAW, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – USA

The University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco (UC Hastings) was established in 1878 as the first Law department of the University of California system. For more than 125 years, UC Hastings has educated prominent leaders in the judiciary and the bar who have assumed positions in government, business, and education. UC Hastings offers an LLM in U.S. Legal Studies for international candidates who already possess a degree in Law as well as a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) for professionals who have an advanced degree in a field other than Law, such as Health, Science, or Business, who would like to learn how to think like a lawyer. Read the full profile.

GOLDEN GATE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW – USA

Golden Gate University School of Law (GGU Law) has been training savvy, creative and socially responsible practitioners for more than 100 years. Established in 1901, GGU Law remains at the forefront of San Francisco’s legal and academic communities. Its students benefit from extensive real-world training, professors who are both scholars and practitioners, and robust networking opportunities with mentors and legal luminaries from across the Bay Area. The University’s dynamic urban setting in San Francisco’s legal district offers students unmatched access to courts, law firms, and the key to various government agencies. Read the full profile.

SCHOOL OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER – UK

Renowned internationally for the calibre of its specialist research, the University of Ulster’s School of Law ranks among the top 15 Law Schools in the UK and enjoys a student satisfaction rate of 90%. Unique in its practical approach, which links classroom study with realistic professional situations, the School prepares its students to excel in their chosen disciplines within industry. To supplement its standard undergraduate LLB and postgraduate LLM courses, Ulster affords those enrolled access to a variety of specialist optional courses in areas such as Human Rights Law, Company Law and Environmental Law. The School also runs a popular student mentoring scheme to ensure that each individual has access to comprehensive support throughout their transition from school to university. Read the full profile.

DURHAM LAW SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM – DURHAM, UK

A member of the prestigious UK Russell Group and ranked among the top 100 institutions in the world, Durham University is internationally renowned its leadership and innovation in teaching and research. Its Law School is consistently rated as one of the best in the UK, ranking 4th in the Complete University Guide 2015 and 6th in both the ‘The Sunday Times University Guide 2015 and The Guardian University Guide 2015. Additionally, the School appeared among the top 100 in the 20141 QS World University Rankings for Law. Read the full profile here.

FOWLER SCHOOL OF LAW, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY – USA

Offering a collaborative, personalised and rigorous form of legal education, Fowler School of Law offers one of the best faculty-student ratios among all ABA-approved Law Schools. With a staff body which includes four former US Supreme Court clerks, a former member of the United States Congress, a Nobel Laureate and numerous other distinguished scholars and visiting professors, Fowler School of Law ensures that its students are supported and encouraged to excel by experts in their field. The School’s friendly atmosphere and welcoming student body are reflected in the fact that the institution has been ranked among the top 10 Law Schools in the country for ‘Best Quality of Life’ by The Princeton Review every year since 2005.