Building my caseload knowledge at the AGCAS Legally-Related Jobs event

“What can I do with my law degree?”

I see a lot of law students during my one-to-one appointments, and although some want to be solicitors (and a handful barristers) many have little interest in these kinds of roles. “What can I do with my law degree” is one of the most common questions I get asked by law students who come to see me: they want to know what they can do with the legal knowledge and skills they’ve built but they don’t know what else is on offer in the legal sector.

As a careers adviser, this is where building caseload knowledge can help significantly. Having an awareness of alternative career routes means I can introduce law students to positions they may not have considered, and for those that aspire to enter the more traditional roles, caseload knowledge can inform discussion of a back-up plan. Students from non-law backgrounds are even less likely to be aware of what else is on offer, so being able to discuss alternatives can help them too.

I’ve been building my caseload knowledge for over a year and a half, and law is one area that I used to feel quite intimidated by. When I first started working as a careers adviser it took me a while to learn about the entry routes and application timelines (not to mention how to correctly pronounce the names of law firms!). Even though I’m much more confident advising students about law careers now, when I heard about an AGCAS Legally Related Jobs event taking place in London I thought it was the perfect opportunity to build my caseload knowledge further. The event featured eight speakers talking about seven different roles, and as I found it so useful I thought I’d feature some of the individuals I heard from and provide further information on their legally related jobs.

Trade Mark Attorney

Lara Elder is an Associate at Carpmaels & Ransford, a firm of patent and trademark attorneys. She started working for the firm in 2011, after applying for a Trainee Trade Mark Attorney position. Lara’s background is in linguistics and she has a PhD in German Literature.

What can I do with my law degree

What do Trade Mark Attorneys do?

Trade Mark Attorneys provide advice to everyone from start-ups to multi-national companies on the use, protection and enforcement of trademarks, including company names, signatures, logos and any other unique features of a product or service. The majority of Trade Mark Attorneys work in specialist private practice, but the number of general legal firms with trade mark departments is increasing. Large companies who have enough trade mark interests to warrant having someone in-house may also employ their own Trade Mark Attorney.

What are the entry-routes for Trade Mark Attorneys?

There are two main routes to become a qualified Trade Mark Attorney. The first is how Lara entered the profession – through a Trainee Trade Mark Attorney role, and the second is via a Trade Mark Administrator, Paralegal or Assistant role. Lara talked about both routes involving an apprentice-style period of working and training, resulting in a Certificate in Trade Mark Law and Practice. It’s possible to enrol on a postgraduate course before working in the trade mark field, but the qualification stipulates that you must have a certain amount of experience before becoming fully qualified.

What are the entry requirements?

Lara told us that some people confuse Trade Mark Attorneys with Patent Lawyers and therefore think they need more of a scientific or technical background. However, this isn’t the case, and although a law degree can be advantageous even this is not always essential. Given the global, digital and cultural reach of contemporary company activities, modern languages, business and arts degrees are looked upon favourably by many firms. The Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA) website has a useful careers section which provides more information about entry routes into the profession.

What’s the job market like?

The profession itself is relatively small (according to ITMA there are only 1500-1600 Trade Mark Attorneys practising in the UK at any one time) but it is a growing field. This is partly due to the way that local and global markets are becoming increasingly complicated and interwoven, alongside the growth of companies’ digital operations and e-commerce activity. In other words, having more ‘spaces’ in which companies can operate means there will be greater demand for Trade Mark Attorneys who can provide advice and expertise.

Who might be suited to working as a Trade Mark Attorney?

Students interested in marketing, branding and the law would be particularly well-suited to working as Trade Mark Attorneys. As mentioned above, business, arts and modern languages students would also have the kind of skills that many firms would look for.

Costs Draftsman / Costs Lawyer

Joshua Mayo is a Law Costs Draftsman for DWF. He has an undergraduate degree in Law and also completed the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) but was unable to secure pupillage and the rising costs involved made it difficult for him to pursue his ambition of becoming a barrister.

Costs-Lawyer

What do Costs Lawyers do?

A Costs Draftsman or Lawyer deals with any matter that has legal costs associated with it. This may include providing general advice on costs, bills of costs, points of disputes, costs management and costs budgeting. Most Cost Lawyers can be found within in-house cost/legal departments and large law firms. Cost Lawyers work in three main areas: recovering costs between disputing parties, ensuring solicitors charge appropriate fees to their clients, and lastly preparing claims for costs where a party is in receipt of legal aid. Although Costs Draftsmen can do all of the above activities, only Costs Lawyers are able to undertake reserved legal activities such as appearing in court, conducting litigation and swearing oaths.

What are the entry-routes for Costs Drafstmen/Lawyers?

There are no formal training requirements for Costs Draftsmen, and although a law degree would substantially help, students from all disciplines enter the profession. In order to become a Costs Lawyer it is necessary to obtain the Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) qualification. This involves completing a level six qualification and three-years of qualifying employment. Although the qualification is required, membership of the ACL itself is voluntary. Many people working in costs do not have this qualification but having it is likely to help when applying for future jobs.

What are the entry requirements?

Students often think that they need to have superior maths skills, but the minimum level of qualification needed to become a qualified Costs Lawyer is a GCSE in Maths in grade C or above. Candidates with specific qualifications such as a qualifying Law degree or Graduate Diploma in Law may be exempt from some modules that form the ACL qualification. A detailed explanation of the entry requirements can be found on the ACL website.

What’s the job market like?

The demand for Costs Lawyers has significantly increased following the Jackson Reforms in 2013, which were introduced in part to avoid disproportionate legal costs. Law firms are using Costs Lawyers more than ever, and this means there will be new opportunities and areas in which Cost Lawyers can contribute to broader legal work.

Who might be suited to working as a Costs Lawyer?

In addition to the skills and qualifications outlined above, Joshua advised that being stubborn and argumentative has been useful, and an eye for detail has been essential – particularly when drafting detailed high value bills of costs.

Licensed Conveyancer

Sally Lane works as a Licensed Conveyancer for Farrer & Co, where she has been since 1994. She has extensive experience in the legal property sector, having also worked as a Legal Secretary at a London law firm and a Planning and Legal Assistant at a local authority.

Licensed-Conveyancer

What do Licensed Conveyancers do?

A Licensed Conveyancer is a professional property lawyer who specialises in the legalities surrounding the buying and selling of property. Anyone who has bought or sold a house will know it is quite a complicated process, and Licensed Conveyancers make sure that all the relevant documents, contracts and finances are present and correct. Their role involves providing advice to clients, handling contracts and leases, and dealing with boundary disputes and rights of way issues. Licensed Conveyancers have the same legal authority to act as solicitors and are Commissioners for Oaths, giving them the legal authority to administer and witness official documents. However, as Sally explained, whereas solicitors have a broader range of responsibilities Licensed Conveyancers have a more specialist role. They work in a range of settings including law firms, housing associations, local authorities, banks/building societies and property development companies.

What are the entry-routes for Licensed Conveyancers?

To become a Licensed Conveyancer you must pass the Council for Licensed Conveyancer (CLC) exams and spend at least two years of training in practice. The average student normally completes the qualification within three to four years while working full time. Most people enter the profession via a Trainee Licensed Conveyancer role.

What are the entry requirements?

A graduate from any degree discipline can become a Licensed Conveyancer, although candidates with a background in Law, Business and Accounting/Finance would be looked on favourably. As the minimum entry requirements for the CLC training are four GCSE passes including English, non-graduates can enter the profession but most possess a degree or higher level of qualification such as the Legal Practice Course or Graduate Diploma in Law. Studying land and/or company law during an undergraduate law degree is beneficial.

What’s the job market like?

As the housing market continues to develop, there is a growing demand for Licensed Conveyancers. This has resulted in an apprenticeship scheme being introduced, sponsored by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Who might be suited to working as a Licensed Conveyancer?

Sally told us a Licensed Conveyancer needs strong technical, interpersonal and communication skills as well as patience; dealing with clients who often have very little knowledge of the law can involve a lot of explanation.

Other legally-related roles

If you’re interested in learning about the other professions covered by the event take a look at the speaker biographies.

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