It is safe to say that a career in law is one that will be both interesting and rewarding. The law profession is one of the oldest professions in history, and it is one that garners a lot of respect and typically a high salary. If you are considering a law career and not sure where to start, here are some considerations to make and possible pathways to get you there.
The discipline of law employs many different types. A law clerk does not have to have a formal law qualification, and other administrative roles within a law environment can also enter this profession. For individuals who want to practice law as a lawyer, it is critical that they obtain a law qualification. In Australia, this is a requirement. If candidates are finishing high school and want to start law, they will undertake a Bachelor of Law. Candidates who have already studied at university and have successfully graduated with a degree can study for a Juris Doctor Degree. Juris Doctor Degrees are quite versatile in the delivery and community they foster.
Both a Bachelor of Law and Juris Doctorate Degree will result in the same law qualification, although the course material might vary slightly to cater to different life experiences. The duration of these qualifications will depend on the education institution, whether studying part-time or full-time and other factors that might impact a straightforward start to finish.
The varying roles of a lawyer
Being a lawyer is not a blanket position with the same roles undertaken therein. The setting in which lawyer practices will largely drive the type of work that is done. For example, a lawyer practising corporate law in a corporate environment is going to face similar kinds of litigations and other laws relating to business practice. A human rights lawyer, while still holding the same law degree as a corporate lawyer, will be focusing on issues that promote and protect human rights and other specific law areas.
Putting aside the position of a lawyer, there is also scope for a graduate with a law degree to become a barrister, a prosecutor, legal counsel, a judge and other legal positions. It is quite typical that a lawyer will start and stay in the same field rather than jumping around from corporate to human rights so that they can progress in that field and develop deep expertise.
The Bar Entrance Exam
When a student graduates with a Bachelor of Laws, they are inducted as a lawyer in Australia, although they still have to take the Bar Entrance Exam to be able to practice law. This Bar Entrance Exam will typically take place within the first 18 months after the student has graduated, and it may happen after the law graduate has found a job. Studying for the Bar Entrance Exam is important, although it will capture everything that was learnt in university, so no new course content will be required post-graduation.
Interning and study requirements
Unlike other qualifications and career paths, the law requires intern work and an intense amount of reading. Most qualifications will encourage internships and will have set reading requirements, although the law readings are essential as they will underpin the student’s grasp of legal studies. The first year of law is rather dry as there are so many foundational laws and information that the student must understand before they proceed through the rest of the degree. It’s very common that a law student will undertake this demanding degree while still interning at the same time. Interning can set students up for success in the future, and many internships can turn into a job when the qualification is complete.
It’s hard to see any drawbacks when it comes to studying law, save for the hard work and perseverance required. Understanding what is required from this role will ensure that you have the tools to succeed and the vision to get you through study, internships, the Bar Entrance Exam and all the challenges of this rewarding career.