It may not be a career that automatically springs to mind when PPLS students turn to considering ‘What Next?’ after university. However, the many and varied skills needed in the legal profession can be found within the PPLS disciplines, if you are keen enough to gain relevant experience and undertake at least 2 more years of further study (3 in Scotland) and a traineeship (2 years) – to become fully qualified.
Although grads from all the PPLS subjects have gone on to study law conversion courses, skills developed through the study of philosophy are particularly relevant to the legal profession, as Thomas, an Edinburgh philosophy-grad-turned-Scots-lawyer explains;
‘Studying philosophy involved constant analysis of arguments, logic and semantics – and the use of thought experiments to test one’s theories. Law involves much the same; questions such as “does this law apply to this set of circumstances” and “does the meaning of this word extend to X?” do arise! Studying philosophy gave me a really good foundation for tackling legal arguments in a logical way and the skills to distil complex issues for clients.’
Thomas, enthusiastic as he is about his chosen career area –
‘I specialise in health, safety and environmental law and most of the clients I work for are in the energy, renewable and oil & gas sectors. It’s a varied role in a team
environment and I enjoy it a great deal.’
– also sounds a note of warning about the vital necessity for research before embarking on what can be a very costly career path, in the first instance:
‘Choosing to study for a further 3 years involved a significant financial burden – I certainly did research the path to becoming a lawyer and I talked to firms at careers fairs prior to starting the LLB. Later on, the research was more about the choice of firm to train with………Post economic meltdown, it’s harder to obtain training contracts with law firms, which is a necessary step on the path to qualifying as a lawyer. It’s competitive and academic performance is scrutinised, so if you’re going to do further study, put in the work and stand out from the crowd. Work experience and placements in law firms, companies and institutions are all valued by law firms.’
To help you with your research, if you’re interested in exploring the wide range of opportunities this profession offers – from commercial to criminal to public sector to human rights and beyond……check out the following:
- our legal careers information online, and in the Careers Service, including information on the profession in Scotland and England & Wales, gaining experience, how to qualify, different areas of the legal profession, and more
- major city law firm, A&O’s, presentation at the Scotsman Hotel on Monday 4th Nov.
- Philosopher Thomas’s full case study Thomas Herd, lawyer
- case studies of Edinburgh grads working in different areas of law.
You’ve got the skills from your degree; if you’ve also got the interest, enthusiasm and tenacity, a legal career may be just what you’re looking for.