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Using legal skills outside the law

Like many before me, I defected from the legal world on completion of my law degree. Although I fretted constantly that I had wasted an extra two years at university (and a landed a sizeable HECS debt), I can now honestly say that a law degree is a very useful qualification in the professional world – even if you’re not a lawyer. Below I share how I’ve used my degree in my day job as a public policy analyst, and have won a few arguments along the way!


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By far, the most useful skill I gained in my law degree was the ability to methodically solve a problem. While IRAC technically flies out the window once you leave university, I’ve found myself constantly solving the problems I face at work in the exact same way. Although there generally aren’t any hard and fast ‘rules’ outside the legal world, reasoning by analogy tends to be both informative and persuasive. It’s also a skill that’s well regarded by employers – because chances are, any occupation you work in will require some level of problem-solving.

Reading regulations and legislation

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This one might not come up for everyone, but I personally find it comes in handy. Knowing how to read legislation and regulations – and understanding how they function – will often make you the ‘go-to’ person for this sort of work. In the end, almost all industries are touched by regulation or legislation in some way, and if you’re called upon to understand exactly how that works, you can guarantee you’ll be thankful to have four years’ experience before saying yes!

Writing well

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While not all professional occupations require a lot of writing, I find I’m constantly ‘on the tools’ and writing report after report at my job. Contrary to popular belief, I think that my law degree taught me to write clearly and concisely, with just the right amount of long word usage. I also know how to structure a kickass essay, which is surprisingly similar to business writing.

Reading fast

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Being told to read and understand a one hundred page report would have many in a panic – but after spending years trying to get the hang of skim reading, I find it doesn’t bother me at all. Reading fast is certainly a skill, and a useful one at that!

Winning arguments

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Who doesn’t want to win an argument, eh? The inevitable office banter will no doubt leave you in an intellectual discussion at some point or other. Luckily, law graduates have had many years of practice (mooting, anyone?), so you’re well on your way to arguing your point reasonably and thoroughly. Your colleagues will either learn to give you a wide berth, or go out of their way to fire you up!

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