Are you looking to change careers? Perhaps you’ve spent some time in an industry, and are looking to try something new. While unemployment rates are at record lows, and with advancements in automation and machine learning, it’s more important than ever to explore career options that are in high demand and offer financially stable employment.
One such career path involves roles in the legal industry. With more than 70 percent of legal graduates successfully acquiring full-time employment, and lawyer salaries in Australia higher than the national average, let’s explore some potential careers on offer after a legal degree’s successful completion.
Why Should You Consider a Legal Career?
A legal career can initially sound daunting. Modern media representations, unfortunately, don’t do the role of a legal professional justice – in fact, some representations (such as that of Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul) can be entirely unhelpful for those wishing to understand how a legal career can benefit them.
A legal career can involve many elements – from understanding and interpreting the legal rules and regulations that form civil and criminal justice systems to applying that knowledge in a variety of situations, from policy development to legal proceedings. This may appeal to those with a thirst for knowledge, and a desire to learn about the legal structures that shape the world that we live in today.
You should consider a legal career if you’re passionate, looking to make a difference, and are willing to look at things through a legislative and regulatory lens. Let’s explore some of the potential career options that may open up, upon successful completion of a legal qualification, such as a Juris Doctor (JD).
A Legal Adjacent Career – the Role of a Policy Officer
While many legal dramas portray anyone with a legal profession as an attorney, barrister, or lawyer, as a matter of fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, many professionals pursue a career that isn’t explicitly in the courtroom, opting to focus on the issues that face corporate entities and businesses.
One such field is the pursuit of a policy officer. In these roles, legal professionals can use the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired through their legal qualifications to provide guidance in the review of legal strategies conducted by an organisation. In fact, a policy officer can provide crucial insight on legal matters before they hit a courtroom, providing assistance on matters such as workplace policy, and internal dispute documentation.
From Policy to Contracts – the Eagle-Eyed Lawyer
While some choose to pursue a role in legal policy, a large number of graduates also choose to begin a career as a lawyer. There’s a lot that a lawyer may do – typically this will involve a mix of drawing up legal contracts, participating in elements such as dispute resolution, or even reviewing legal claims.
A lawyer may not always have to be present in a courtroom, however, it’s not uncommon for a lawyer to attend a legal proceeding. In some cases, they may have specialised domain expertise, such as knowledge in family court proceedings or financial matters, and this knowledge can be incredibly helpful in the courtroom.
Lawyers form a highly respected component of today’s legal system, and completion of a legal qualification may enable you to take that on as a degree if that’s a field you’re interested in.
Roles in the Courtroom – Careers as a Barrister
That’s not to say that all roles avoid a courtroom. For example, while a policy officer or lawyer may not always step foot inside a courtroom, a barrister’s predominant role is to make court appearances and representations on behalf of clients.
This can cover a variety of matters – from contract disputes to criminal law. Typically, a barrister will focus on a particular field and specialty of law.
Barristers with a high quality of work may also be nominated by State and Federal bodies, such as the Supreme Court, for further legal roles, such as judge or magistrate. These are highly respected roles and are considered the upper peak of the legal profession in Australia.
If you’re looking to pursue a financially stable career in law, there’s never been a better time to speak to a careers advisor and take those first steps, if that’s something of interest to you.