What Is the Cheapest Way to Get Into the Legal Profession?

“What is the Cheapest way to get into law?”

Entering the legal profession is without doubt one of the most expensive career options apart from becoming an airline pilot. It involves investing thousands of pounds in education that may or may not lead to a position at the end of the road.

Unfortunately there is no simple answer to which is the cheapest way to get in because there are all sorts of implications as to the different paths you choose to go down.

The Legal Executive route is the cheapest option. Quite a few people go down this particular route following on from an undergraduate degree, whether law or otherwise, or straight out of school. The Legal Executive route in terms of monetary cost is considerably cheaper than the Graduate Diploma in Law/LLB degree and the Legal Practice Course (the solicitor route).

We did a bit of research and the current cost in 2013 to complete both parts of the Legal Executive training (Part 3 and Part 6) is about £6,500 (course fees, exam fees etc..) The current cost of the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law is £11,000-£13,000. If you combine the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and the Legal Practice Court (LPC) the overall cost is about £18,000-£20,000.

If you combine the Legal Practice Course with the cost of completing a law degree then the usual overall price is around £25,000 to £30,000, which is gradually creeping up to around the £40,000 mark as law schools start to capitalise on the willingness and ability of potential lawyers to pay.

In the past people have been down the vocational course route or alternatively the New York Attorney route, but these are options that are now in the past because, as we understand it, the Law Society still require you to complete the LPC and a training contract or training contract equivalent, which makes it senseless to plan to do either of these two in order to become a lawyer.

So if you look at the different options, the cheapest one by far is the route through the Institute of Legal Executives and becoming a chartered legal executive before then either moving on to being a solicitor simply remaining a legal executive.

The various borders between all the different types of lawyer (legal executive, paralegal, solicitor and Barrister) are becoming distinctly blurred. Solicitors can now do work that was exclusively reserved for barristers. Barristers can see clients directly. Legal executives can gain the Rights of Audience that solicitors and barristers previously exclusively enjoyed. Legal Executives can now become partners of law firms and so can barristers. Solicitors can practice as Advocates without ever needing to take instructions from clients themselves.

However one thing remains very clear and that is that in the minds of lawyers themselves there is still a hierarchy in terms of both fee income and status.

At the bottom of the pile is a paralegal and this is very unlikely to change for a good few years yet simply because paralegals have no rights at all in terms of advocacy, and similarly cannot practice on their own without another type of lawyer being with them.

Second in the pile are Legal Executives who are starting to enjoy more status in recent times but similarly hold lesser standing in the legal profession as a whole than solicitors and barristers. It is partly because of the old-fashioned view that most people who have become legal executives are former secretaries trying to work their way up. this is still very much the case for some people and perfectly understandable as a very easy way in.

After all, being a solicitor requires you to do quite a bit of academic study at some point or other whereas becoming a legal executive is mostly something you can do on the job with a few evenings a week at night school or weekends at doing distance learning spread over a considerable length of time.

Second from the top are solicitors. Make no mistake, in the legal professional solicitors are definitely considered second rate by just about everyone including themselves, even when they are commercial lawyers earning considerable sums of money and more than the Barristers they instruct. Solicitors are seen more as wheeler-dealers and go-getters than actual lawyers, and the profession itself over time has determined effectively that solicitors are the monkeys to barristers’ organ grinders.

At the top of the pile are the barristers. The vast majority of barristers I suspect would class themselves as upper class. They are often very sharp, extremely intelligent, usually residing in exclusive villages or streets reserved for premier league footballers, doctors and senior businessmen and with cars to match.

Barristers see solicitors as a necessary evil as traditionally the solicitors obtain clients for the barristers and the barristers did their best for them even though they usually have not met the client before the date of their first hearing and have absolutely no interest at all in their welfare or personal situation.

Barristers are pure law at the end of the day and are not interested (quite understandably) in their clients’ welfare or wellbeing.

These are traditional views on the legal profession and the way it is structured. How you choose to interpret the above article is a matter for yourself, but it is based on my own experiences in law, whether as a lay person undertaking cases myself or as a qualified solicitor working with barristers and other solicitors.

The reason I put this level of detail into this article is to show you that if you decide to go in the cheapest way into the legal profession there is always a catch, and at the moment the catch is that your status for the remainder of your time in the profession will be diminished by the decision you have made now.

Once a legal executive always a legal executive. The lawyers recruiting you at the moment are usually “pure” solicitors. They will hold your status as a legal executive against you and probably for the remainder of your career. Your salary will often be affected as solicitors traditionally believe that legal executives are worth less money than qualified solicitors. I would estimate that over the time of your career remaining you will lose around £5,000 to £10,000 per year at the very least through your decision to go down the Legal Executives route, at least up until you have been in a solicitors job for 5 years min.

Furthermore, certain doors will be shut to you from then start. If you qualify as a legal executive you very often have to qualify into an area where legal executives are used and practice. This invariably means debt recovery, some types of employment – usually contentious, crime, family, conveyancing, wills and probate and sometimes commercial property. Whilst some of these are not known to be too bad in the long term – commercial property and wills and probate are not too badly paid at the moment – it does mean that the majority of commercial law for example is going to be outside your remit.

It is very difficult to move from one field to another once you have specialised in one particular area of law. So for example if you qualify as a legal executive undertaking crime work and have 5 years’ experience you cannot then use your legal executive status (or indeed your solicitor status) to move across and practice in corporate finance.

If you are an able student or graduate with excellent grades then you should almost always make an effort to go down the solicitor or barrister route. Going down the solicitor route is not as expensive as people think it is.

For example you do not need to pay the College of Law or BPP to do the Legal Practice Course or the Graduate Diploma in Law. There are far cheaper alternatives and regardless of what the more elite institutions tell you, the vast majority of law firms don’t care two hoots where you do your LPC because most qualified lawyers view these courses as burning hoops to jump through in order to qualify than any sign of your ability.

Employers are always interested in your undergraduate degree. For the rest of your career. Forever!

They are also interested in your A level grades. Forever!

This plus your A- Level grades will determine whether you are a student or graduate with excellent academics. If you have straight A’s at A Level or AAB or possibly ABB then you will be an excellent student to come into law.

If you have a 2:1 Degree in anything other than pop music or country dancing (my first degree was pop music), then you stand a very good chance of training and becoming a qualified solicitor.

If you have less than this then your life as a lawyer will be considerably harder to start out with. The Legal profession do not view 2:2 degrees as being something that entitles you to practice as a lawyer. It will go against you for the remainder of your career and there is no way round it. I suspect that if you are sat there reading this with a 2:2 degree you have been badly misinformed by anyone who has told you to go into the legal profession. It is not impossible – I have trained and coached many students and graduates who have 2:2 degrees (sometimes even a 3rd) and they have gone onto enjoy rewarding careers as lawyers in some capacity. However, their road into law has been considerably harder as a result of their inability to obtain a 2:1 degree.

So getting back to my statement that if you have excellent academics you should always consider becoming a solicitor so as not to damage your career in the long term by going down the Legal Executive route.

If you do not have excellent academics then you should always consider alternative options and one of these will be to go down the legal executive route.

However I would not recommend paying to undertake a legal executive course until you have legal work experience, you are able to use in the longer term to secure yourself a good legal career.

By this I mean that if you are a student or graduate you should definitely not go straight along to the Institute of Legal Executives and sign up for any legal executive course. If you are going down a non-conventional route into law then academic study once you have completed an undergraduate degree or your A-Levels is completely immaterial. Experience is what matters and nothing else will do. Legal work experience is the key to gaining a successful start into law.

You cannot skip this, circumvent or navigate round it as so many people try every year.

This is why academic institutions have been bought out by overseas companies looking to make a quick buck.

There are a lot of people out there undertaking postgraduate and undergraduate courses with no hope at all of ever finding a job in the profession they are going into.

Furthermore, there are lots of people out there who have the academic qualifications but lack any work experience or activities or interests who similarly are very unlikely to ever get ahead in law or get through the easy way.

No careers adviser will give you this advice, but the main thing to do to get into law is to get experience, more experience and even more experience. This may cost money in itself, and you may say that I have my fees to pay and I have to live. This gets me to my point that if you want to invest in your career then spending money on academic qualifications is not the way to go. Getting experience is and this in itself will cost you money.

To give you a quick example, as I write this a vacancy has come in from one of our central London law firms. They are looking for a fee earner to go and assist for a month or two with a load of admin work. They will pay well for this, and it is a job probably most suited for an LPC graduate.

I have one in mind.

It is not an LPC graduate with a 2:1 law degree or good A levels. It is not an LPC graduate with an LLM from a good university or some sort of summer school academic qualification. It is an LPC graduate with similar experience to that the firm are seeking.

The firm will not give two hoots what the LPC graduate has in terms of additional qualifications but they will study the LPC graduate’s work experience to date to decide whether or not to take them on for this particular role.

It is so important to understand this that when somebody says what is the cheapest way into law that there is no easy answer. You cannot just take a decision now that will affect the rest of your career simply on the basis that it may cost one or two thousand pounds more to go one way into the legal profession rather than another.

You will notice that so far I have not mentioned anything about barristers. This is because in my experience training to be a barrister is almost always a complete waste of your money and time. You would probably be shocked to hear this and perhaps put it down to my natural bias against barristers having been a solicitor myself. I would grudgingly accept that probably I am a little biased against barristers having run around courts for them, I’ve dealt with some pretty awful ones over the years (as well as some absolutely fantastic ones) but the barristers’ strand of the profession is pretty much tied up and it is very important to understand this.

The word nepotism could almost have been invented for this part of the profession. Let me give you an example.

Back many years ago when I had just qualified as a solicitor our practice used a local chambers which had a very good reputation in the area and was probably the top set of barristers by a considerable distance. I cannot remember any of their barristers being unsuited or incompetent and most being incredibly talented advocates.

At some stage in my first year after training I remember that they advertised for two pupil barristers to join them. There were a considerable number of applications, as you would expect because this was a top quality set of chambers, outstanding reputation with quality work coming in, in an area where there are not many barristers’ chambers.

I do not know how the recruitment process occurred but I do know that the two pupils selected were children of one of the senior barristers in chambers and one of the more junior barristers. I am afraid that the barristers’ profession can talk about diversity and equal opportunity to their hearts content but when recruitment like this occurs in a chambers of that size it is completely irrelevant.

It is always going to be the case that if chambers at that level recruit their own then anyone else will either have to set up rival chambers or alternatively work for a lesser standard of chambers.

It may be that the two children of the barristers already in practice were the best suited for the role, and I am sure they went on to be absolutely outstanding barristers but the point is these two people gained their pupillages with chambers to which they were already affiliated through their parents.

Without any sort or recruitment process that eliminates this (and after all why should it – I would have done exactly the same myself as a barrister if my children wanted to practice as barristers!) then this is not a strand of the profession to go into unless you have family or extremely good friends who are able to assist you in your search or pupillage.

The vast majority of people who complete the Bar Professional Training Course do not end up as barristers. They end up working as paralegals or non-qualified lawyers with a views to taking the Legal Practice Course at a future point in their career, costing even more money.

This is a false economy because the cost of completing the Bar Professional Training Course and the Legal Practice Course is verging on the ridiculous for the returns that you will get at a later stage in your career.

So in summary I recommend anyone coming into the profession to do one of two things.

1. If you have excellent academics and the ability to add legal work experience to your CV to bolster this then go and try and qualify as a solicitor. Do not go down any other route.

2. If you do not have excellent academics do not go down the route of qualifying to be a solicitor. You can go and get work experience and prove me wrong (and I hope you do) but you would be better suited to a life as a legal executive with a view to cross-qualifying at a later stage by competing the Legal Practice Course or simply being happy doing what you are doing as a legal executive.

Always think – why are you going into law? What do you want to get out of it? How much will you need to earn in order to get what you want out of life?

Advantages of Choosing a Career in Law

Choosing a career in law has several advantages. Law is an intellectual stimulus. The lawyer develops the capacity to analyze cases far better than most people can imagine. This requires the individual to have the ability to develop sound arguments and to articulate them in a persuasive and practical manner. A career in law can be exciting and challenging.

Exciting opportunities

Law career offers a wide range of opportunities in different areas of law and in various types of practices. A lawyer or attorney should have a sound knowledge of the law and its legal process. It gives an opportunity to earn handsomely, as well as to start one’s own business. But this won’t happen at the initial stages. He has to first work with a senior lawyer or firm to get practical experience of working with the system. Practicing law gives an opportunity, to effect important changes in the system and in the client’s life. The hours of work put in by members in the legal profession is much more than members of any other profession. Private lawyers work at all hours. Many of them meet clients out of working hours as their clients may be employed. In a law firm, promotions are competitive and based on merit. Associates in law firms bill about 80 to 100 hours per week. It is not a 9 to 5 job, bosses don’t ask them to work out of office hours; they are required to do so.

Existing businesses are growing and expanding and new businesses come up each year, opening avenues for making a career in law very possible. Corporate law defines the rules for business corporations. Businesses require corporate lawyers. Corporate lawyers have a strong role to play in a business establishment. Their duty is to advise their corporate clients, draw up business contracts and argue cases in court especially when parties are involved in foul play.

Social aspects

Lawyers are treated with respect and deference after all they know the laws of the country and they deserve it. Dressed elegantly and smart, they ooze confidence. However, there is another side to the social aspect of a career in law. The legal system requires very intricate and highly specialized skills. But the one sad aspect in choosing a lawyer job, especially criminal law, is losing faith in mankind. You will experience real life situations on a daily basis and encounter disheartening examples of human depravity. Betrayal, fraud, back-stabbing and callousness make people hate lawyers and can be extremely difficult to cope with.

Law Careers – Top 10 Law Careers

If you are studying law or considering a career in law then you must at the very beginning analyze what do want to become after passing your law course. In the field of law like the other fields there are abundant career options. If you don’t want to get stuck in an office you can practice independently. Just make sure the profession you choose must be one that matches your temperament, interests and passions. After a point of time, you might get bored and in case of heavy hectic schedule you might just end up quitting. These are a few career options available in the field of law –

1) Public service lawyer take up the administrative roles in the larger interest of serving the public. You can also take up job with local NGOs and do legal public work, fight cases for the underprivileged or the poor. You can also take up administrative roles like that of a policy officer and a project manager. A guy with a big heart would just fit into this field. The money might be a little less compared to other sectors but there is a lot of personal satisfaction.

2) The legal issues are most common in business sector. In order to get a stabilized and continuous growth businesses to indulge in certain misconduct and hire lawyers in bulk to attend to the legal standards of the business and especially be able to meet the demands of the government to have to continuous growth. In corporate sectors and huge multi national companies have a huge demand for corporate lawyers and this profession will have a great lucrative value for a long time to come.

3) You can also go in for legal research which is a more adventurous brand of work. You have immense personal satisfaction and the work will be interesting if you have knack and passion for it.

4) A lawyer can take up work with he non government organizations or humanitarian centers working for the same purpose. The lawyers in this field must be sincere or they don’t stand a chance.

5) The lawyers can also find jobs in law enforcement agencies like the secret service, CIA and so on. They can enroll themselves with the police and any such law enforcing group who always need lawyers.

6) They can find jobs in hospitals. Hospital is a very volatile and sensitive area and if5. Hospitals always have a high job requirement for lawyers to support their entire system.

7) Working in regular government offices more like an administrative job is very common for those who have pursued law; they have a better sense of administration. This is not a public service job as such.

8) They are required in large numbers in media houses. Being a controversial field it is, media houses need legal support to save their skin all the time as they keep landing in trouble.

9) Lawyers can go in for journalism as well as any political news have a legal angle to it and the lawyers can help them analyze the nuances of it.

10) They can go in for social service as social workers. They will be more capable of doing this than just working with them as a resident lawyer.

How to Become a Paralegal – Find Out How You Can Be a Lawyer’s Right Arm

Do you yearn for a fast past exciting career in the field of law? Then perhaps you should learn how to become a Paralegal.

A Paralegal is a legal assistant; he or she does not necessarily train and practice as a lawyer. However, he or she enjoys the thrill and the exhilaration of working in the same field. Yet, to be successful within this field, you must possess the passion as well as the patience to dedicate yourself to researching and preparing various cases.

Educational Requirements

Anyone interested in how to become a paralegal should put some effort into finding out about the training and education required for this job. First, you must first complete high school or pass the GED exams. Next, you should complete a two-year associate degree program in criminal justice from a community college or a vocational school. An alternative way to go about this is through an online program. Finally, you can choose enroll in an American Bar Association (ABA) approved program as it will enhance your opportunities later on. A word of advice though – whatever program or college you opt for, make sure that it is accredited by the National Federation of the Paralegal Association.

Duties and Responsibilities

In order to understand how to become a Paralegal, one must also have a detailed understanding of what he or she may be required to do.

The most basic and essential duty of a Paralegal is to assist lawyers in their preparations for hearings, trials, and closings. However, since a majority of paralegals work for law firms, corporate legal departments or even government agencies, they may have other responsibilities such as:

  • Collecting and organizing all the necessary data and records required by the lawyer for the concerned court cases
  • Drafting and writing legal reports and documents
  • Preparing for trials under the supervision of lawyers
  • Providing suggestions for the method in which the case can be litigated
  • Drafting documents for litigation, contracts, separation agreements and other such tasks
  • Running searches over properties along with various other tasks such as preparing for transaction closings for real estate.

Career Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is one field that is growing like wildfire. Compared to other careers in criminal justice, paralegals are expected to earn more by 28% by 2018 and an average yearly income of approximately $46,000 to $73,000.

So, now that you know everything there is to know about how to become a paralegal, perhaps you will start considering this career seriously.

Researching Criminal Lawyers Before Being Charged With A Crime

Researching criminal lawyers could be something that could save your life in some sense of the word. If you believe that you are a suspect in a serious case or even one that is not so serious then you would be wise to look into hiring a lawyer. All criminal lawyers are not alike, so it is important to consider what traits to look for a in a law professional.

There are specific traits that are important as you look at criminal lawyers. Traits that are important include a long-standing professional career with a good reputation for their work. Excellent people-skills are another important trait. Also important is the cost that you will have to pay for help.

As you are researching criminal lawyers and are considering their traits, you should consider whether or not they have a long-standing professional career. Part of this career must be a good reputation in the surrounding community or even nationally. Finding such a lawyer might be easier if you live near a larger city, but you can locate them on the Internet and contact them still to see if they will represent you. Those who have been in business longer might be willing to travel to represent you.

People skills are an essential to look for as you look at various criminal lawyers. The people skills will help your lawyer to represent you in the best way because they have the confidence to stand in front of people and speak as well as meet one-on-one with witnesses and others involved in the case.

The cost that you end up paying for hiring a lawyer is also important to consider. The better the lawyers, it is likely the more costly the service will be. Take this into consideration, but try to be balanced at the same time as you look for law professionals. You may have to spend a little more than you had planned, but hopefully it will end up being worth it in the end.

After you take the time to research and consider the various traits in a lawyer for you, hopefully you will find one that fits what you are looking for in a lawyer. It is so important for you to begin early in looking for the right lawyer perhaps even before you have actually been accused of a crime. This will give you a chance to find a good lawyer without the pressure you would have if you have actually already been accused.