Separating fact from fiction – is a legal career for me?

legal dramas can spark legal careersLegal dramas are never far from our TV schedules but while programme-makers generally take advice from professionals, they don’t claim to provide a rounded view of the day-to-day realities of a legal career.

Qualifying as a lawyer is a long and difficult process, so if the small screen has sparked your interest, how can you find out if this could be the path for you?

Court visits

Both Magistrates Courts and Crown Courts are usually open to the public. You can sit quietly and listen at the back of the court in the public gallery. Daily case listings for Crown and higher courts are available from the Court Service website; Magistrate Court listings are usually posted in the court on the day.

At the Central Criminal Court, commonly known as the Old Bailey, public galleries are open each day for viewing of trials in session.

Work experience

Big law firms tend to run formal work experience schemes, holiday placements, internships and workshops – application details can usually be  found on their websites. Smaller firms are more likely to consider requests on an individual basis – you can find a local practice through The Law Society.

Depending on your circumstances, The Social Mobility Foundation and the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme can help with placements.

Another option is to try and get a temping admin role within a legal context. Photocopying, filing and simply being in a legal office environment can provide a real eye-opener into the sector and the realities of day-to-day work, and you may also get the opportunity to ask colleagues about their experiences.

Online research

There’s plenty of information available online which may help you decide if you want to investigate  a legal career further. Get first-hand insights through icould’s video stories and visit our law careers directory for details of relevant organisations and resources.

BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action features reports and discussion on matters relating to law. Similarly, following legal cases, developments and issues across the media will boost your background knowledge and is a way of demonstrating your interest in the subject at course interviews.

Undergraduate law students

If you’re already studying for a law degree, there are several other ways to explore your career options, such as marshalling, which involves shadowing a judge and mini-pupillages where you shadow a barrister. Your university careers service or tutor should be able to provide further information.