In the UK, if you are a legal recruitment agency, the most common candidate you will have approaching you is a law graduate or LPC graduate looking for paralegal jobs UK and eventually a training contract.
Unfortunately there are not enough training contracts to go around and most will have to resign themselves to either paralegal jobs UK in Personal Injury or Residential Property, or a change in career choice.
A student typically has to study for 3 years to get their law degree and then a further year full-time at a college of law to attain their LPC. This is expensive and many can find themselves heavily in debt with no promise of a training contract.
There is another option available at the University of Northumbria, of a 4 year course which exempts the students from the LPC. Given the current ratios of training contracts to LPC graduates one would have thought this option should be made more widely available.
Once the prospective Solicitors have gone through this expensive academic process they then have to hunt for that fabled pot of gold – the training contract. At present those who have not attained a 2:1 at degree level will find this extremely difficult.
Training contracts are now often awarded two years in advance and as legal practices can now pick and choose the best, experience as a paralegal is becoming important. This means it can often be 2 to 4 years after graduating that the successful law graduate actually starts their training contract.
Outside of London most paralegal jobs uk will start on between £15-20000 per annum and can over a number of years progress to between £20-30000 depending on the area of law in which they practice. So those who are heavily in debt after their LPC will see no immediate fixes to their financial obligations until 5-10 years down the line if they are able to secure a training contract.
Legal Clerks who had practised law but were not qualified were common twenty years ago. However, the competitive nature of Residential Property and Personal Injury law over the last 10 years has led towards the proliferation of the career Paralegal and Legal Executive. Legal practices can take advantage of the large number of legal graduates on the marketplace desperately seeking further experience to increase their chances of a training contract, and quite often the best place to start is a legal recruitment agency.
This move towards a move assembly line practising of the law in certain areas such as Conveyancing and Personal Injury is also spreading to other fields such as Wills and Probate, Immigration, Family and Crime; although it is more the nature of Legal Aid funding rather than the competitive nature of the marketplace which is driving these changes.
So what does this mean for our prospective law student? Well we can say for certain that to progress through a career in law is not for the faint hearted. This will be an expensive and demanding process in which only the few will be very well rewarded at the end.
It is worth at an early stage looking towards those areas of law which tend to pay better, such as Corporate and Commercial Law and Commercial Litigation. Or perhaps look at areas of law which are in high demand such as Insolvency, Construction and Charities and avoiding those which are reliant on an ever decreasing legal aid budget such as crime and family.