Legal Profession: is it for you? A no-nonsense guide to a career in the law
V. Charles Ward
How many of you would want your children or offspring of your friends to follow you into the law? Perhaps some of you. Although a fascinating and vital profession, it is not the quick route to fame and fortune that some people still think. It must be well over 40 years ago that I was given a copy of Glanville Williams’ Learning the Law, which confirmed my interest in the profession. Forty years on, times have changed. There are now plenty of books for prospective students. Interestingly, it was just as difficult then to get articles (training contract) as it is now.
The remit of this book is somewhat narrower. It is written to help people decide on a career choice. It makes the point that there are now many different routes to qualification and different career paths to follow. It is a very good introduction to the law as a career, explaining the different types of work we do. There is an excellent chapter on legal London which is a guided tour of the capital’s buildings. The book is worth it just for that.
Conveyancing is not the mainstay of the profession that it once was. And the profession is diverse in the sense that it covers many areas of law and that coming from a poorer or disadvantaged background should not be a bar to success. The student loan system is at least equally unfair to everyone.
This book is good on the need to be streetwise and the sort of skills a lawyer requires. More on how to get training contract might have been helpful. Is the future bright for legal students now? Perhaps in 40 years’ time it will all be done by robots working from home. For now, a judicial career which offers a range of well-paid and flexible jobs is increasingly more open to solicitors.
Reading this book now we could ask ourselves ‘how was it for you?’ The profession has its ups and downs – all right, more downs than ups – but is still a profession and a vital part of society. No matter how much the law and profession changes the public still needs us. The profession is probably more responsive and representative than many other professions. For a negotiable fee, I will give work experience to one of your dearest and try to dissuade them from a life in the law.
David Pickup is a partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup and Scott