Vocational Opportunities Within The Legal Industry

Eager to get started in a career in law, but haven’t followed the traditional route of getting a degree? Consider these career options instead.

With over 133,000 practising solicitors in the UK, and almost 16,000 barristers, the legal industry is a competitive environment. In fact, only around 72.5% of applications to study law at UK universities are successful according to the Lawyer Portal, leaving more than a quarter of applicants disappointed.

If you’d love to get a foot in the door of the legal industry, but don’t have a law degree as your golden ticket, then check out these alternative three ways to kickstart your legal career.

Legal Apprentice

One advantage of becoming a legal apprentice over attending law school first to gain your qualifications is earning a salary! Instead of taking on an average of £40,000 worth of debt to complete your studies, you can instead come straight out of school or sixth form college and join an apprentice program instead. Glassdoor prices the average starting salary for an apprentice as £16,059 which is far better than accumulating debt. Better still, as a law firm will have sponsored you, they’ll be keen to keep you at the company, helping to progress your career over the next few years. In fact, apprenticeships are an excellent way to see common areas of law put into practice in the real world, rather than having to wait years at law college reading theory and case studies.

To get started as an apprentice, you don’t necessarily need UCAS points, although strong GCSEs would help. However, you will need to demonstrate a passion for the legal industry.

Legal Secretary

Secretaries and administrative support are the backbone of any business and this is no different in the legal profession. As a specialist type of secretarial work, legal secretaries can expect to earn a higher pay grade than they would for standard admin work, as they will become familiar with caseloads and legal terminology.

In terms of skills, you’ll need a typing speed of at least 50wpm, excellent proofreading skills, a professional phone manner and legal transcription work would be a bonus too. If you have your heart set on a step up, then there’s always the option to upskill your qualifications by studying as you work.


With an excellent understanding of law, paralegals will closely support solicitors and barristers with their caseloads. As a paralegal, you could land a role in either chambers, private, public sector or a not-for-profit legal organisation.

You can expect to mirror the work of a trainee or newly qualified solicitor, helping to prepare court cases, by undertaking research or liaising with clients as required. Junior paralegals can begin on a starting salary without having a law degree, although if you wish to gain a position in a high-profile firm, then the competition will be fierce. In this case, it would be advantageous to have gained a Graduate Diploma in Law or complete the Legal Practice Course.

At smaller firms, you can often train around your job, gaining extra qualifications alongside essential industry experience.

There are plenty of careers in the legal industry that don’t require you to have a degree. Whether you’re a career changer or are fresh out of school and eager to get started in a law practice, check out these options to get started.