Why Law? Degree teaches a range of useful life and employment skills
Law helps students develop diverse skill sets including research, analysis and problem solving
Many law graduates don’t go on to work in law, and you’ll find law graduates in other areas such as banking and finance. Above, the Courts of Criminal Justice on Parkgate St, Dublin. Photograph: Dave Meehan
An undergraduate law degree won’t qualify you to become a barrister or solicitor. For that, you will need to pass further exams. And you don’t need an undergraduate law degree to get onto most postgrad law courses.
So what’s the point of a law degree then? Actually, it’s a really valuable degree that arms you with a range of useful life and employment skills including research, analysis and problem solving. By studying law, you learn how to find imaginative ways around a range of problems, and you have to be an excellent communicator.
Law is a very diverse field, and criminal law is just one element of it: most solicitors and barristers are in property, family, company, EU, banking, tax, trade and employment law.
The profession slumped a little when the property crash led to a fall in demand for conveyancing, but it’s back on the up.
There are lots of places to study law in Ireland. Trinity, UCD, UCC, Maynooth, Griffith College, NUI Galway, UL, DIT, DBS, WIT and Letterkenny IT all offer general law degrees and other law options. You can study business with law – a useful combination – at Athlone IT and IT Carlow, as well as at UCD.
DCU has an interesting selection of law course including the BCL (law and society) which focuses on the how the legal process operates and is influenced by society. DCU’s BA in international relations encompasses legal elements.
The two main routes for law graduates are working as a solicitor or a barrister. The solicitor gets the case ready for court and the barrister goes on to represent the client in court.
Life as a barrister can be tough: all barristers are self-employed and work on a case-by-case basis. The financial rewards can be high, but it takes time for barristers to establish relationships with solicitors and it is a fiercely competitive industry. It can take some time for a solicitor to get established as well.
Many law graduates don’t go on to work in law, and you’ll find law graduates in banking and finance, the civil and public service or legal-related areas like the probation or refugee services.
Some solicitors can go on to make the big bucks, but it’s far from a given. For more detailed information on current salaries for law graduates, check out the salary guide from Payscale, a company that specialises in salary data. Google search “payscale Ireland law”.