A law degree can open doors into many other career options aside from private practice, writes Jason Rickersey.
I’m a lawyer (well, actually, a restricted practitioner) and a career counsellor. I was also a provisionally registered psychologist in a former life. And I used to be an employment consultant, which involved helping clients on welfare returning to work. So, you might say I have a diverse background.
In more recent times, I was a liaison officer in student support at a university. This included running a support program to help elite athletes balance sport and study so they could have a career after sport.
My background has made me a fan of the chaos theory of careers. Basically, the theory holds that chance events can have a significant impact on your career. In my case, that couldn’t be more true. Between recruitment, HR and employment consulting, I also managed a year of FIFO hospitality on the mines in Western Australia — and I went back to university because I was working in tertiary education. Doing my law degree while I was working at a uni was a natural progression.
Career counselling is a real passion of mine. I love the idea of helping people navigate career issues and helping them find great roles that fulfil them. Something about it just appeals to me. I have realised that law is a profession where you have a lot of options. The traditional path of going to law school, doing a clerkship and scoring a gig at a law firm is great. It’s just one of many options law grads can take.
My advice for a successful career in law — start early. In your second year of uni, try to get a gig as a legal assistant or paralegal at a law firm. If you don’t manage that, see if you can get a role in hospitality or retail. Having a part-time job during uni shows employers you’re reliable and motivated. And do the extracurriculars — mooting, competitions and the like. Go to the careers days too. Make contacts with recruiters at law firms and follow up with an email. It shows confidence and doesn’t go unnoticed. Build those relationships throughout your degree.
The landscape for law grads is pretty good. Your degree opens a lot of doors. Legal practice is a rewarding profession. That said, you can do lots of other things too. I’m a big fan of aligning skill sets with jobs. Don’t worry about what the job title is. See if your skill set matches and explore opportunities. There are lots of great government roles in policy. Plus, you could always try being an investigator.
Law is a great degree, no matter what you do with it. The right job is there for you. Always remember that.
Interested in employment opportunities within the legal industry? Check out our latest listings at legaljobs.com.au
Jason Rickersey is a careers counsellor and law graduate.