Careers and Employability Service
Services for current students




The majority of law students, and a good number of non-law students want to pursue a career as a solicitor or a barrister.

It is important that you understand the differences (and similarities) before applying for either role.

Both professions will consider law and non-law graduates, and as a consequence you will apply for opportunities (work placements, open day, mini-pupillages, training contracts, pupillage) at different stages in your academic career.

Whatever career you choose, you need to be clear about:

  • why you wish to pursue your chosen role
  • what interests you in the work
  • what interests you about the firm/chamber you have applied to
  • that you have the right skills, motivation and qualifications

Return to jobs list

Your next steps

If you have questions about your plans, talk to a member of our team.

Book a careers appointment

Read Kate's blog about pursuing a career in law


Thinking about becoming a barrister?

Noxy gives us insights into the process of becoming a barrister, from picking your Inn, through to applications and interviews. 

Read Noxy's blog: Turning My Dream of Becoming a Barrister Into Reality


Choosing your career path into law

Think about the area you wish to practice

According to Chambers and Partners, there are approximately 73 broad practice areas to choose from, not counting all of the specialisms.

For example, if you are interested in family law, you can be involved in anything from pre-nuptial agreements to international child abduction depending on the firm.

If you want to be a media lawyer, you may specialise in film, TV, gaming, social media, interactive content, music, publishing or theatre.

How to choose a firm, chamber or organisation

Once you have decided what area(s) of law interest you, you need to research who specialises in that area and decide whether you wish to apply for their opportunities.

You are trying to narrow down your selection so that you can make informed and focused applications.

Do the firms/chambers appeal to you?

Firms and chambers have personalities and cultures, and as such are not all the same. Depending on your interests, you might be considering local firms rather than international firms, London chambers rather than regional chambers, or in-house.

You have choices, so make sure you are applying to those that match your interests, values, personality and career ambition.

Deciding on the route to qualification

For information on training and qualifying to become a solicitor visit SRA and The Law Society for up to date information on the Solicitors Qualification Exam and the new route to qualifying as a solicitor

For information on training to become a barrister


Solicitor - The majority of law firms offering training contracts will fund SQE assessments. 

Legal education providers may offer scholarships along with the Law Society. Chambers students guide provides a good overview of what is available.

Barrister - The Inns of Court offer scholarships to study the PGDL and the BTC. Some Commercial Sets may also offer funding. For more information visit Chambers Student

Read Ella's blog: Securing a Bar Course Scholarship

Your lifestyle needs

The lifestyle of a lawyer is something you have to consider, and depending on your chosen area of work, your lifestyle can vary hugely.

This is not to put you off, but for you to be realistic about what will be expected of you in a professional environment.

You can find out more from websites such as RollOnFriday (solicitors) and barristerblogger (barristers).

You can find other legal blogs on Delia Venables' excellent legal resource website.


What are the hot topics in law?

Whatever area of law you are interested in, then that becomes your hot topic.

If you are interested in the media, then you need to understand more than the celebrity gossip. You need to follow the legal and business stories of the media, in the media.

What you also need to know is that law firms and barristers chambers want you to understand their business, their products and services, and the importance of client service – in a nutshell, being commercially aware.

This does not mean having worked in a business – or even a law firm – before, but about recognising and appreciating what they do, how they do it, and how they meet clients' needs and get paid for it.

Read about Panayiotis's journey into legal technology through the Nottingham Internship Scheme

I have been awarded a scholarship from Lincoln's Inn! Thank you so much for all your help and support this year, especially with the interview practice, I really appreciate it.
Ella Statham, Law student (2023)

How do I organise some work experience?

The legal profession provides many opportunities to gain insights and experience. Some, but not all of the experience you will undertake will form part of a recruitment process. Those that do are work experience placements (solicitors), and assessed mini-pupillages (barristers).

Gaining experience of the bar

  • undertake a mini-pupillage
  • network with chambers
  • marshalling
  • pro-bono and other volunteering work
  • mooting and debating
  • experience in a solicitors' office
  • visit and join an Inn of Court
  • attend the National Pupillage Fair
  • sit in on in-court proceedings

Gain experience of the life of a solicitor

Online work experience 

Forage is an online platform providing free access to virtual experience programmes with world leading companies. The virtual experience programmes let you sample ‘life-like’ tasks that provide a better understanding of what it’s like to be a junior employee at that company. They take five to six hours to complete and are self paced.


Firms will also advertise virtual work placements on their websites. Check firm websites for details.


How can I develop my skills through student societies?

There are several student-run societies that will give you an insight into the legal profession, and develop the skills employers need.

You should also look out for societies that reflect your interests including where you may see the focus of your legal career and those that give you the opportunity for community engagement.

Student societies at Nottingham

Advocate Magazine

Amnesty International

Debating Union

Economics and Finance Society

Law Society

The Mooting Society

Negotiation Society

Pro Bono Society

The Bar Society


How do I make a successful application?

Writing applications will be a time-consuming business. If you are to impress the recruiter you must address their needs. You have to write in a professional manner, use plain language, avoid cliches, use grammar correctly and make no spelling mistakes.

Attend one of our application support sessions

Read Andrew's blog: The changing legal landscape – what applicants need to know

AllAboutLaw SQE1 Taster Tool

AllAboutLaw has launched a free SQE1 Taster Tool. The tool has e-learning modules with real-time feedback, practice exams with results and video lectures from top academics at the University of Law.



When do I apply for jobs? 

If you are a law student, a lot of your job application activity to become a solicitor will take place in your penultimate year.

If you are a non-law undergraduate, a lot of your job application activity will take place in your final year.

Law firms want to recruit candidates with the potential to become future associates and partners. Non-law students have as much chance as law students at becoming qualified practitioners.

Job hunting for a career in law may well continue beyond graduation.

When do I apply for jobs?

Key dates for intending solicitors

Key dates for intending barristers

Diversity access schemes

The legal profession is keen to recruit from the widest possible talent pool and there are a wide range of organisations you can register with.

Law Careers Diversity Access Schemes

Students with a disability

The legal profession is keen to recruit students from all backgrounds and you should not be put off applying if you have a disability or health issues.

Some law firms have linked up with organisations such as EmployAbility and My Plus Consulting who are worth contacting, attending their events and applying to employers they work with.


What's happening on campus?

As a student interested in law, there are many opportunities to engage with the profession and access advice, information, and guidance about choosing law as a profession.

Employer recruitment events on-campus

Workshops on applying for legal positions

Spotlight On events looking at the working life of solicitors or barristers, or alternative careers

Application and advice one-to-one appointments

Student-run societies


What are my other law career options?

Working in this sector is not just about solicitors or barristers – in fact there are many careers that are available for you to consider. 

Other options for a career in law could be:

Legal Operations Graduate Programmes: Legal Operations graduate programmes are offered by Norton Rose Fulbright, Linklaters, Slaughter & May, Herbert Smith Freehills, Dentons. 



Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
Portland Building, Level D
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3679