Making your mind up: Why choose law?
A law degree alone will not make you a barrister or solicitor but it does confer an advantage
Law graduates will come out with a really valued degree and the ability to find imaginative ways around seemingly intractable problems.
A law degree arms graduates with a particular set of abilities. Law graduates are highly valued for their research, analytical and problem-solving skills. They are trained to delve deep into case law and construct a watertight and convincing argument using both oral and written presentation skills. Any workplace would be delighted to have such graduates.
But, to the surprise of many school students, a law degree alone does not prepare you for life as a barrister or solicitor. Law graduates, however, do have an advantage because, as long as they have completed certain compulsory subjects, they can apply directly to the King’s Inns for barrister training or Blackhall Place for solicitor training. In brief, solicitors prepare cases for court while barristers represent the client in court.
Non-legal graduates must study on the two-year diploma in legal studies before they can then apply to sit the entrance examination for the barrister degree.
Anyone who wants to become a solicitor must sit the FE-1 exams to gain entry to Blackhall Place. Students who do not have an undergraduate degree in law must study the one-year diploma in legal studies which prepares them for the FE-1 exams; this is offered at DIT and a number of private institutions including Griffith College. Those who have an undergraduate law degree may be more ready for the FE-1s.
So, if you’re fairly sure that a career in law is the right route for you, a law degree may get you there quicker. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in studying law but not sure if you’ll ultimately work in the field, you’ll still come out with a really valued degree and the ability to find imaginative ways around seemingly intractable problems.
There are a variety of ways to study law, with courses on offer at UCD, Trinity, Maynooth, DIT, DCU, DBS, Griffith, NUI Galway, UCD, UL, WIT, and Letterkenny IT among the third-level colleges offering it. Business and law is a particularly popular option with availability at UCD, Trinity, DIT, IT Carlow and UCC, among others. Law with a language is incredibly useful at a time when language graduates are in such short supply and many third-levels offer choices here.
Getting established as a barrister, and being self-employed, isn’t for everyone, but the financial rewards can be high – if you make it. Solicitors will work long hours in the early years. For information on payscales, google search the Morgan McKinley Ireland 2017 legal salary guide.