Half of prospective solicitors want to join the profession because of a primary motivation to help people, according to new research.

In a University of Law survey 49% of respondents cited wanting ‘to help people’ as the main reason for their career choice, compared with 61% of aspiring barristers.  

Max Harris (pictured), chair of the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division (JLD), said that the figure was encouraging: ‘Helping people can range from helping large in-house legal teams with their corporate considerations, to helping vulnerable children or adults in family, housing or other human rights matters.’

‘With the recent cuts to legal aid, the latter type [of help] is under great threat,’ he added.

A recent JLD survey revealed only 4% of junior lawyers were working – or interested in working – in legal aid. ‘The Society, the JLD and so many other organisations are fighting hard to ensure that a career in legal aid remains a viable option for law students,’ Harris said.

In the University of Law survey, more than two-thirds of students cited ‘intellectual challenge’, ‘interest in law’, and ‘interesting and varied work’ as drivers for joining the profession.

More than a quarter of respondents were aged between 16-18 when they decided they wanted to work in the legal sector, which Harris said was unsurprising, ‘but highlights the importance of the profession’s engagement with students at all levels and in all areas of society’.

Over 1,200 newly enrolled LLB, GDL, LPC and BPTC students took part in the university’s survey.