There is a whole range of jobs in the legal industry and not all of them require years of study after school to qualify. Roles such as court ushers and legal secretaries are central to the operation of our legal system and can make highly rewarding careers.

We’ve put together this guide of law jobs to help you decide which roles might be a good match for your skills. We take you through the responsibilities of each role, what qualifications and skills you’ll need, and the salary you might expect to take home.

Barrister

What does a barrister do?

A barrister is a fully qualified lawyer who is responsible for giving legal advice to clients and representing them in court if necessary. They are usually self-employed and work in chambers, or they will work directly for an organisation. Barristers will usually specialise in a particular area of law, such as family law or criminal law.

 

Responsibilities

In general, a barrister might be responsible for the following:

  • Giving legal advice to clients
  • Working with other legal professionals such as solicitors
  • Research
  • Preparing the appropriate legal documents
  • Representing clients in court
  • Negotiating a settlement for a client if their case doesn’t reach court

 

Qualifications

Qualifying as a barrister can be challenging and you will need to be prepared for years of intense study. The first step is to get a law degree. You can either take a qualifying law degree at university or take another degree and then complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). You will then need to pass the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) which is a year-long course when taken over a year. The final stage is pupillage which is usually a year working in a set of chambers, observing and assisting a qualified barrister.

 

Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Research skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Confidence in public speaking
  • Commercial awareness
  • Academic ability

 

Average salaries*

The amount that barristers earn can vary greatly depending on the type of law they specialise in and where they work. A pupil might earn anywhere between £12,000 and £45,000. A qualified barrister employed directly by an organisation might earn up to £250,000 per annum whereas some self-employed barristers earn in excess of £1,000,000.

Barristers’ Clerk

What does a barristers’ clerk do?

A barristers’ clerk will usually work in a set of chambers and provides support for the barristers who are based there. The day-to-day duties will usually begin with administrative tasks and will grow to include things like marketing, sales, and management as experience is gained.

 

Responsibilities

  • Managing diaries and organising meetings
  • Maintaining accounts
  • Helping clients decide which barrister is best suited to their case
  • Organising transport to court and meetings for barristers
  • Acting as a point of communication between barristers and their clients
  • Helping to market the business

 

Qualifications

Work experience is usually more important than qualifications for this role. While A-levels or a degree might improve your career prospects, some experience working in administration or a legal office will help you stand out to employers.

 

Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Excellent organisation
  • Attention to detail
  • Administration skills
  • Interpersonal skills

 

Average salaries*

This can vary greatly depending on which chambers and barristers the clerk works for. A starting salary could be in the range of £15,000 to £20,000 rising to as much as £80,000 for a senior clerk. Those who work with the top barristers in London might earn a six-figure sum and are sometimes offered a bonus which will correspond with what the barristers earn over the year.

Chartered Legal Executive

What does a chartered legal executive do?

A chartered legal executive does similar work to that of a solicitor, however, the qualification route is different and covers fewer topics. This means that chartered legal executives usually focus on lower status cases.

 

Responsibilities

  • Advising clients on their cases
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Legal research
  • Drawing up legal documents
  • Working with other legal professionals such as solicitors and barristers
  • Representing clients in some courts

 

Qualifications

There are several qualification routes to become a chartered legal executive. The first is the CILEx route. The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives offers diploma courses which you can start after GCSEs and will earn you the equivalent of an honours degree. After you’ve completed the diplomas, you will need to complete three years of qualifying employment under the supervision of a lawyer.

 

Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Research skills
  • The ability to work under pressure
  • Good level of written English

 

Average salaries*

Legal executives who are still studying might earn between £15,000 and £28,000 rising to around £35,000 when fully qualified. A senior chartered legal executive could earn in excess of £55,000 per annum.

Court Usher

What does a court usher do?

A court usher is responsible for the smooth running of the schedule in court. They will ensure that the right people are in the right places and assist in tasks such as keeping public areas of court under control and passing messages around the courtroom.

 

Responsibilities

  • Preparing the courtroom for the day’s schedule
  • Greeting those attending court or visitors to the courtroom
  • Calling witnesses and defendants into the courtroom
  • Passing messages
  • General administrative duties
  • Swearing in jurors

 

Qualifications

Training to become a court usher takes place on the job and usually takes around a year to complete. Experience in administration roles or in customer service would be beneficial. You will also need to pass a DBS check.

 

Skills

  • Communication skills
  • A professional manner
  • The ability to assert authority
  • An eye for detail
  • The ability to remain calm in difficult situations

 

Average salaries*

A court usher could expect to start on a salary between £15,000 and £17,000 which could rise to around £22,000 with experience.

Legal Secretary

What does a legal secretary do?

Legal secretaries assist legal professionals, such as barristers, solicitors, and legal executives, in their administrative duties. This could range from managing diaries to working with legal documents.

 

Responsibilities

  • Managing diaries and arranging meetings
  • Preparing documents for court
  • Keeping records up to date
  • Carrying out any research as directed
  • May need to attend court on occasion

 

Qualifications

Work experience is generally more important than qualifications to apply for a role as a legal secretary. Experience of office work will help you stand out to prospective employers. There are several courses you could take to help strengthen your application, including a diploma offered by the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA)

 

Skills

  • Communication skills
  • An eye for detail
  • Excellent organisation skills
  • The ability to work in a team
  • Computer literacy

 

Average salaries*

A legal secretary might start on a salary between £18,000 and £22,000 per annum. They might earn as much as £45,000 as an experienced legal secretary working in London.

Licensed Conveyancer

What does a licensed conveyancer do?

A licensed conveyancer is a specialist in property law and advises on the legal matters which surround the buying and selling of property. They have the same authority as a solicitor when acting in conveyancing transactions and can witness and administer legal documents.

 

Responsibilities

  • Giving advice to clients
  • Researching a property
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Carrying out checks on a property
  • Checking contracts and Land Registry documents

 

Qualifications

To qualify as a licensed conveyancer, you must pass the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) qualification. This involves passing both the Level 4 Diploma in Conveyancing Law and Practice and the Level 6 Diploma in Conveyancing Law and Practice. You will then need to complete 1,200 hours of practical work experience before you are fully qualified.

If you are already a qualified lawyer, such as a solicitor or a chartered legal executive, you can apply to the CLC for a licence to practice without taking the diplomas.

 

Skills

  • Negotiation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Numeracy skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Research skills

 

Average salaries*

A junior who is yet to fully qualify might expect to start work on a salary between £16,000 and £20,000 per annum. Once qualified, salaries might rise to £25,000 and then with experience to somewhere between £50,000 and £60,000

Paralegal

What does a paralegal do?

Paralegals are central to the functioning of law firms and have traditionally been seen as support staff to qualified lawyers. However, many paralegals tackle work on a day-to-day basis of a standard usually given to trainee solicitors.

Many law graduates take on paralegal work while searching for a training contract to complete their qualifications to become a solicitor.

 

Responsibilities

  • General administrative tasks
  • Taking notes in court
  • Carrying out legal research
  • Drafting legal documents
  • Meeting with clients

 

Qualifications

There are several routes you can take to become a paralegal. The most common is through university taking either a law degree or an alternative degree and the GDL. In theory, you could become a paralegal with just GCSEs, but as this is such a competitive career, further qualifications will help you secure a role.  

 

Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Research skills
  • Excellent organisation
  • Commercial awareness

 

Average salaries*

Potential salaries as a paralegal depend on your level of qualification. Graduate paralegals might start on a salary £10,000 higher than that of a non-graduate. Starting salaries could, therefore, be anywhere between £15,000 and £25,000. With experience, paralegals can earn in excess of £40,000 per annum.

Patent Attorney

What does a patent attorney do?

A patent attorney is responsible for helping clients through the patenting process. They decide whether a design or an invention is worthy of a patent, draw up patent applications, and ensure that patent rights are upheld.

 

Responsibilities

  • Investigating new designs and inventions
  • Advising clients on how to protect their designs from being copied by other parties
  • Composing patent applications
  • Advising on the sale of patents
  • Taking the appropriate action when patent rights have been broken

 

Qualifications

You will need a degree in a technical subject, such as engineering or a science, as you will need to understand the details of your clients’ designs and inventions. You will then have to complete a period of training with a law firm or department. While you are training you will have to pass a number of exams in order to qualify. This process can take between five and six years.

 

Skills

  • Technical and scientific knowledge
  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Negotiation skills
  • A good standard of written English

 

Average salaries*

Trainees might start on a salary between £28,000 and £34,000 per annum. This could rise to somewhere between £45,000 and £65,000 as a fully qualified junior. Senior patent attorneys can earn in excess of £100,000 per annum.

Solicitor

What does a solicitor do?

A solicitor advises clients on legal matters and, if necessary, will act on their behalf. Solicitors may specialise in certain areas of the law, such as criminal or family law. They may work for a variety of institutions, such as the government, charities, the armed forces, for businesses, or in private practice.

 

Responsibilities

  • Advising clients
  • Drafting legal documents or contracts
  • Representing clients in court
  • Briefing barristers on a case
  • Ensuring that agreements are implemented

 

Qualifications

There are several ways to qualify as a solicitor. The most common route is through university. You can take either a law degree or an alternative degree followed by the GDL. You will then need to take the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and complete a two-year training contract. While completing this contract you will need to pass the Professional Skills Course (PSC). You can then apply to be accepted onto the Roll of Solicitors.

 

Skills

  • Commercial awareness
  • Negotiation skills
  • Research skills
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills

 

Average salaries*

Once qualified, a junior solicitor might earn a salary between £25,000 and £40,000. This is largely dependent on the location of their employer and the type of law they specialise in. For example, a large commercial law firm located in London will pay its juniors a larger salary than a firm specialising in family law outside of the City. With several years experience, salaries might increase to anywhere between £40,000 and £90,000. Senior solicitors have the potential to earn well in excess of £100,000 per annum.

Trade Mark Attorney

Trade mark attorney in a meeting

What does a trade mark attorney do?

A trade mark attorney is responsible for advising clients on how to protect their company, brand, and logos. This largely involves helping clients to choose and register trade marks and act on their behalf in the case of any infringements of intellectual property.

 

Responsibilities

  • Advising clients on the appropriate way to protect their intellectual property
  • Drawing up contracts and applications for trade marks
  • Taking action if there are any trade mark infringements
  • Renewing trade marks
  • Guiding the transfer of trade marks and intellectual property rights

 

Qualifications

Training to become a trade mark attorney usually takes place in the intellectual property department of a law firm. You will need to complete two years as a trainee under the supervision of a qualified trade mark attorney. There are also several postgraduate qualifications you will need to pass. You can either take a certificate in Trade Mark Law and Practice or a certificate in Intellectual Property. The final step is to pass the Professional Certificate in Trade Mark Practice.

 

Skills

  • Research skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • An eye for detail
  • Communication skills
  • Commercial awareness

 

Average salaries*

Before qualification, trainees might earn between £20,000 and £25,000 per annum. This can quickly rise on qualification to around £40,000 to £60,000. A senior trade mark attorney could earn around £100,000 per annum.

 

To find out more about becoming a trade mark attorney, have a read of our more detailed job description.

 

*Salaries are a guide and can vary depending on a number of factors

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