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?

Alternate Careers Lawyers Should Consider

With the economy being what it is these days, more and more people are feeling the pinch. Many lawyers are feeling the pinch, as more and more students graduate from law school and enter the super competitive legal field. Some are even considering making a career change. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of alternate careers lawyers can get into. Here are three easiest alternative careers lawyers can break into:

1. Freelance legal work. If you’ve just been laid off from your big firm, you may not need to make an actual career change at all – a lateral move can often be just as satisfying (and lucrative!). This is an especially simple way for lawyers to break into different legal specialties, too. If you’re tired of working with tax law 60 hours a week, try devoting 10 to personal injury. Why not?

2. Freelance writing. There are all kinds of journals, papers and magazines that could use a fresh legal perspective – your legal knowledge could earn you money, without having to do any actual legal work. Write up some query letters and send them off to as many editors as you can find. With such an advanced degree, lawyers doing freelance writing work can command a high per-word fee.
3. Consulting work. This is one of the easiest career change moves for a lawyer to make. There are lots of businesses, both large and small, that are in need of legal consultants. This work can often be rewarding, and is a fantastic way to break up the monotony of day-to-day legal work. As an added bonus, contracted consultants usually are able to charge significantly more per hour than their salaried counterparts. The hardest part of making this kind of career change is finding the actual consulting gigs, so having above average networking skills are important.

Law Careers – 7 Steps to Boost Your Law Career

Lawyers always do not need to be good at fighting if they want to boost their career. There are lots of other things required to take your career to the top. When you enter into the job market these days you will naturally find a great competition among the job seekers.

People these days choose their career very carefully. They usually do not want to waste their career opportunities by taking some wrong decisions. There are various things that you need to check before you choose your career.

Law careers are one of the most interesting careers that can change your life as well as your future. People who choose this career must always be ready for hard work and must also be ready to face new challenges with every new case.

When you get into the legal careers you should always look forward to make fast developments in your career. There are certain steps that can help you boost your law careers.

1. The first thing that you need to do is choose the best law school to get a degree in law. Your performance in the law school has a great role in shaping your career. So always try to get good marks and perform well in the tests. There are firms that hire lawyers who have been performing consistently in their law school.

2. You might get plenty of law jobs opportunities but it is important to choose the one which will help you boost your career. Always check out whether you have the opportunity to climb up the ladder of success. Start with the entry level jobs to learn the job and gather experience.

3. After you pass out from the law school and start working you must not leave the habit of studies. The more you study the more you can work towards boosting your career.

4. Planning is an important action that can help you become a successful lawyer. People who choose lawyer careers must always think about the end result of a case when he starts planning the case.

5. To boost your lawyer careers you can work with the government law firms. They offer great opportunities to the lawyers and here you can even learn from your own mistake which can help you move up the ladder of success.

6. You can even choose the alternative law careers if you do not want to fight cases. You can choose to become a paralegal or a legal secretary which can also fetch you a good salary at the end of the month.

7. Finally you can take up certain online courses related to law careers. Other than theoretical studies practical studies are equally important to boost your career in this field.

Law Career Options – Best Actions for Great Decisions

Are you thinking about working legal services but still wondering what law career suits you best? Are you a graduate of another field of decide to shift your career in later life to get into law school? What career path are you seeking for full satisfaction?

The field of law, like any other fields, offers a lot of career options that will not make you stuck in the office or in a firm handling almost the same case every year. You will not just also end up as a barrister or a solicitor. You have a lot of options to choose from, it is important to focus on your interests, and passions before you decide which law career choice are you planning to excel on.

Here are the various career options or areas of expertise that you can dwell on to match your goals and natural passions.

1. Public Service

If you are a lawyer who got much interest in serving the public and taking various administrative roles, you can apply to any federal or state public service providers. This sector offers a great opportunity for a lawyer with a heart for public service to administer public legal work as either a project manager or a policy officer.

2. Business Sector

The field of business also needs lawyers who can help them with the complexities of legal issues in the business context. Big companies and international businesses hire their own company lawyers to attend to their business legal standards and processes to meet government demands for the continued growth.

Corporate lawyers and in-house lawyers are greatly in demand these days with the rise of international businesses and huge companies worldwide. Career choices in the business sector are in the field of telecommunications, energy, mining, banking and other private roles that in-house lawyers take within a company.

3. Legal Research

You may be a type of lawyer who is not accustomed to sit in the office or a firm handling lots of paper works and other professional responsibilities in a regular office setting. You could be a smart adventurous lawyer who loves exciting challenges all he time for more action and satisfaction in the legal context, a legal research position is what you exactly need to jam into.

4. Non-government Organizations

This is commonly known as NGO. The scopes of these organizations are the charitable institutions, advocacy bodies, social service agencies and humanitarian organizations. They always seek for lawyers who naturally show sincere interests in this nature of work.

5. Law Enforcement Sector

You do not have to be a police officer to join such famous groups as the CIA, FBI, and the Secret Service or in any other law enforcement agency. These major law enforcement bodies employ lawyers to handle some complex legal issues that are covered by the state or the federal government.

The lists are almost endless. The law enforcement and business sectors usually offer higher compensations and benefits. Most of these law career fields even include various insurances, paid leave or vacation advantages, special options for early retirement and other valuable packages. The key factor to consider here is not the salary or benefits but your individual choice and preferences that will truly make you happy and satisfied in your chosen career.

6 More Alternative Jobs For Lawyers

After repeated requests for more alternative jobs for lawyers, I have decided to add to the previous article 6 Alternative jobs for Lawyers Jobs. These are merely some thoughts which can perhaps get those brain cells working to help you to discover your talents and give some direction as to where you may concentrate your efforts.

o Motivational Speaker

This was motivated by a comment left by an anonymous reader. There could very well be something in the suggestion that lawyers should try public speaking. Look at some of the well known motivational speakers like Les Brown and John Dmytryszyn. What skills do these guys possess? They are comfortable speaking to a large audience, they can tell personal stories of their own unhappiness or discontent, they can speak of overcoming adversity and they can convince you to make the choices they recommend. So they are usually eloquent, persuasive, engaging and perhaps flamboyant raconteurs. I would say that pretty much sums up a fine trial lawyer. Francine Ward is one lawyer who did it.

o Poker Player

Interestingly this was also inspired by a lawyer/commenter who was quite likely speaking tongue in cheek. Now don’t laugh and don’t end up like the compulsive lawyer/gambler Arelia Taveras. The point of this suggestion however is to stress that you can make a living out of something you love and it has been done as evidenced by the story of Greg Fossilman Raymer who rose from relative obscurity as a Patent lawyer to achieve notoriety as the 2004 World Series Poker champion. As Greg himself states on his website, he took from the strengths he gained as a lawyer and applied them to poker.

“If you’re a litigator or do a lot of negotiation, then you have to be able to read people well, and determine when they’re bluffing or lying, and when they’re not. As such, lawyers who have that type of practice, and who do well at it, are probably in a position to quickly become very good poker players.”

o Career Coach

Who better than someone who has been through the rigors of law school and the legal profession to guide attorneys both inside and outside the law. I already mentioned Monica Parker who helps unhappy lawyers careers outside of the law. Julie Fleming-Brown is also a trained lawyer who provides professional and personal coaching for lawyers. You may be very organized or perhaps you notice aspects of the practice that you feel strongly could do with improvement but your firm gives little or no value to your ideas, you may have a gift for organizational or human resource management or you may be an excellent motivator. Instead of holding your head over a stack of files for hours or butting heads with other lawyers in the court room you may be happier helping them to achieve better work/life balance inside or outside the law.

o Legal Recruiter

A legal recruiter with a legal background is often viewed as an asset. Here is a person who understands how the legal profession works, how lawyers think and interact and the needs of law firms. Some of the talents for a career coach may be applied here as well and a legal recruiter with excellent coaching skills will probably gain an excellent reputation and build a great business. Here are two examples of lawyers turned legal recruiters Felig/Lindy Legal and Abacus Legal Jobs. Note they both reject the notion that they just offer employment service. The former emphasizes the breadth of their offerings and the latter relies on the reach of their expertise across the globe with their slogan run by lawyers for lawyers.

o Legal Correspondent

You have seen them haven’t you? Star Jones and Cynthia McFadden come to mind. You take the inside knowledge you have of the law and with your excellent communicating skills you explain the wranglings and machinations of a civil suit, a criminal case or issues concerning judges, lawyers and the esoteric legal community as a whole to the public. Who knows you may even step up and get your own show or an anchor position on primetime TV.

o Private Investigator

Oh yes. I am sure you have read novels where the protagonist is the lawyer turned private eye. They always seem to be down and broke however. So it is likely that most lawyers would view this as a step down but some of us are more than snoops we have strong investigative talents and are quite competent at intelligence gathering with some business savyy to back it up. We are also masters at reading between the lines or seeing through the scam so why not consider this field. You won’t be limited to checking out whether Mr. R and his colleague are spending their lunch hour at the colleague’s apartment but the range is wide encompassing Business Intelligence Gathering, Database Investigations, IP investigations, Civil and Criminal Investigations and more. Michael D. Rothman and Todd A. Carozza both qualified attorneys established their own investigative firm.

Greg the poker player discusses the contribution of both his science and legal background. This is enlightening. Most lawyers already have at least two degrees. If you can harness and leverage the sets of skills you gained and developed in those areas you most likely could find a way to find the job which is ideal for you.