Trainee blog: I studied a non-law degree – will I be at a disadvantage?
When deciding what to study as an undergraduate, I considered in depth whether I would be at a disadvantage if I did not study law. However, as a forensic science graduate, I can say with confidence that studying a different degree will not prevent you from getting a training contract; in fact it may even help you secure one.
Whether you intend before your degree to follow the law conversion path to becoming a solicitor, or decide to make the switch after a pursuing a career in another industry, your non-law degree can be used to your advantage.
Review the advantages of your subject
A degree in any subject will provide you with an interesting angle for your applications. Consider the skills you have developed and how they might apply to the role of solicitor. Whether your background in English Literature equipped you with excellent drafting skills or your Chemistry degree enabled you to build an analytical approach to problem solving, these skills are all relevant to a career in law. Law firms thrive on diversity and the experiences brought by individuals from varied backgrounds.
If you know there is a specific area of law you are interested in, studying a relevant subject may help you to distinguish yourself in that area. My scientific degree enabled me to gain paralegal experience in intellectual property, a field which particularly interests me. At Michelmores we have a variety of sectors which trainees are instrumental in coordinating; your degree in Engineering, for example, may make you invaluable to our Manufacturing sector.
Most law firm recruiters say that they welcome a balanced intake of around 50% non-law graduates each year; you will not be at a disadvantage in obtaining a training contract. Just be prepared to explain your decision to explore other interests. Your degree subject is likely to be a talking point at assessment days and interviews, and once you become a trainee, at networking events.
Rest assured that you will not be falling behind on the LPC either. The Graduate Diploma in Law (the year-long 'conversion' course) equips you with the requisite legal knowledge to study alongside those who have studied law at University. The practical nature of the LPC is new to almost everyone.
Things to consider
Make sure to think about what else recruiters look for on your CV, they won't focus on just the degree you studied. Showing an interest in law outside of study is vital to prove that you have a genuine passion for the profession and know what you are getting yourself into. The Michelmores Summer Vacation Scheme and paralegal work are both great ways to understand whether law is the right career for you.
Of course, there are many advantages to studying law at University too. From speaking to some trainees in my intake, this may range from being able to fully consider whether you enjoy the subject enough to pursue a career in it, to gaining an earlier insight into which areas of law you might like to specialise in through optional modules, to your University (hopefully) helping you to understand the recruitment process for trainee solicitors earlier on.
Just remember that whichever choice you make won't be the wrong one. As a trainee you will bring attributes unique to you, whatever your background.