• Emily Kelly

When your law degree teaches you that you don’t want to be a lawyer


I’ve learnt a lot during my time at law school. While some of it is on par with the Pythagoras theorem in terms of its relevance, I’ve certainly gained knowledge and experiences I wouldn’t have had, had I ventured down a different study path.

But the most important thing studying law has taught me is something I never could have foreseen as a naïve first year student, eager to immerse myself in the wonder of the legal world…

I don’t want to be a lawyer.

I just don’t. I don’t want to do a clerkship and I don’t want to compete for graduate positions. Having worked alongside students who do yearn for those things, I have immense respect for people who choose to go down that road but for me, the further I get into my studies, the less inclined I am to complete my PLT and get admitted.

Am I concerned that the past four years of my life may have been for nothing? Not in the slightest. The skills and techniques we learn at law school transcend the confines of the legal profession. We are taught to be confident, well-read and independent. We learn research techniques that can be applied to many other fields and, above all, by actually getting through a law degree we learn the value of committing to something, and seeing it through to the end.

The wonderful thing about our degree is that we can go into a variety of professions with that piece of paper in our pocket. Banking, Politics and Diplomacy are just some examples of careers where those with a law degree can excel. Further, like many others, I’m completing my law degree alongside a second degree, and my knowledge of the law will (hopefully!) give me an advantage when looking for jobs in that field.

In truth, I could change my mind. I could wake up tomorrow and decide I do in fact want to be a lawyer, and that would be okay. One of the great things about Uni is that, for the most part, we can afford to try different things, and test out different ideas, without too much worry for the long-term consequences. But if I don’t decide I want to be a lawyer? If you are up to your neck in your Civil Procedure assignment, but decide you don’t want to go to the Bar anymore? That’s okay. Ideas change, life goes on – who knows what you’ll want to be NEXT year!

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