Why I studied Law – but don’t want to be a lawyer.

The minute you tell someone that you’re a law student – they assume one thing right off. You want to be a lawyer. You want to practice law. This misconception has spread, tainting the view of young students who look at degrees. They assume that if they don’t want to argue in court and fight cases, then they are wasting their time.

I studied law. And when I wasn’t struggling through readings, or had assignments due or studying for exams – I actually loved it. But I don’t want to be a lawyer. And no – I wasn’t wasting my time.

So here are my top 5 reasons as to why a law degree is still an excellent choice – even if you don’t want to actually be a lawyer.

1. It teaches you writing and research skills – As a law student you need to be able to back up everything you say with cases, statutes and the like. Doing this teaches you to really know what you are talking about, and how to find solid evidence to back up what you are saying.

2. It teaches you how to be professional – When you study law, all your lecturers will be lawyers. Many of them practicing. And through them you will learn valuable skills – like professionalism. Lawyers understand better than anyone how to cover all your bases, and they will teach you this. Simple things, like making sure all agreements are in writing, keeping copies of important emails etc. This will hold you in good stead in any profession

3. Your choices are wide and varied – Law is anything but a narrow field. You learn about criminal acts, business dealings, politics, how institutions work – and that is just to name a few. This opens you up to a wide range of options when you look for a career – not limiting you to anything.

4. It demands an instant respect from the working world – With no offence to any other degree – law is after all one of the most difficult to get into and often it’s the best and the brightest who chose this. It ranks up there with medicine, architecture and finance as highly competitive degrees. As an LLB graduate you will demand a respect and have an edge that many others who have selected more generic degrees won’t.

5. It’s the perfect choice if you are uncertain. When someone asks me what I want to be – I don’t have a single answer. I want to work in politics and international relations. I want to write and dabble in media. I would like to explore tourism as an option. Currently I'm working in research and policy. Law will back me up in any of these chosen fields without limiting me to one.

Law is a fantastic option. It’s not easy – never pick a law degree thinking that it’s easy. But it teaches you skills and toughens you up – so that the world becomes your oyster and you are its shining pearl.


lishanw said…
agreed. Law is definitely a feeder degree for a many another career paths.
Some of these points can be used for other paths as well.
I always like to think a degree is a state of mind that you have the intellect to do something. doesn't really limit you to a 'certain' path (unless its something as specialized as medicine).
Employers (or an Entrepreneurs) want ability not specific academic background. That why corporate/public sector love engineers. they have the ability to grasp the essence of any ask and can compete in any industry.
sularef said…
Congratulations! Kudos to completing your law degree :) I lost interest during my first semester of 2L (2nd year) to pursue a career in marketing instead.

I realize you don't want to be a lawyer but the least you could do, is to finish your bar exam. I know it's another amazing feat to accomplish but trust me, it will act as a launchpad to your career.

After your bar exam, learn a language :) Travel abroad or go pro bono for a some time? You could perhaps look at these law students as examples (because I know you are very passionate about human rights): http://www.businessinsider.com/most-impressive-harvard-law-students-2013-3?op=1

All the best!
Louiqa said…
I agree that law is good training for the mind. It used to be that a rigorous 'arts and sciences' general degree would also be a good foundational degree with courses in philosophy, logic, linguistics, mathematics, etc. But as degrees became more specialized, these general degrees often lost their rigor and value. But do keep in mind that a legal education is also fairly narrow with a focus on certain types of frameworks and reasoning, e.g., precedent. It will be good to also take some classes or training on other types of comparative reasoning, as well as approaches involving data analysis. If you like math and stats of course.
Well, that is why i suggest students to choose a subject or course very carefully. When it comes to choosing a major or college then there should be some research and efforts to be done because it is a question of your future. Students should not select a career or major just because it got some great scope or because their friend suggested them to join so.
Anonymous said…
In Sri Lanka, the UK, Continental Europe, etc. law is an undergraduate degree. In the US, it's a graduate degree and a three-year one at that. So in the US it's a different set of considerations altogether.
Anonymous said…
As a current law student, I fully disagree with this post in multiple ways. Especially the last point.
Anonymous said…
i thought this was extremely helpful and motivating, but then i read the comments and to tell the truth i got a little discouraged again;
Sonja said…
My thoughts on this are exactly the opposite. I studied law in Australia and practised for over 7 years (private, government and most recently in-house). I left the industry last year and it has been VERY difficult to get a job in other fields!! I've been told I'm over qualified, that my experience is too focused on the law, plus potential non-law employers think I'll get bored and leave etc etc. My advice to anyone thinking of doing a law degree: If you are not 100% you want to be a practising lawyer (or perhaps a politician or diplomat) do not study law...it's not going to help you in other fields...it's in fact going to be a liability for you.
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