While many law students at Scottish universities go on to study the Diploma in Legal Professional Practice immediately after their LLB, did you know that around 50% of law graduates pursue alternative careers, according to the Law Society of Scotland?

In 2017, I graduated with an LLB Law and German from the University of Edinburgh.

I remember feeling pressured to follow the 'obvious' career path and enter the legal profession straight after university. Many of my peers secured summer placements and traineeships during the LLB but I didn't have these opportunities lined up like others did. The route to qualification was not a natural next step for me and I realised I wanted to take things more slowly. While I knew that I wanted to work in the legal profession and I was interested in law generally, I was unsure whether practising as a Scottish lawyer was for me. I felt unprepared and suffered from imposter syndrome – the feeling that, somehow, I did not deserve to be a trainee.

An insight into private practice

I discovered that these feelings were an opportunity rather than a disadvantage; to break the mould and do something different, to experience private practice - which would ultimately help me decide that I did want to become a practising lawyer after all.

So, I took up a paralegal position at an international law firm. This role opened my eyes to what it's like to work in an office and support lawyers around the world on a wide variety of legal work, most of which was English law governed. Interesting tasks included anti-money laundering checks on German ship owners and redacting documents ahead of international arbitration proceedings.

After 18 months I was promoted and seconded to the global loans team where I became involved in large-scale projects for high street banks, including providing COVID-19 emergency loans to businesses across the UK. My time at the firm gave me an insight into how an alternative model of legal services or 'NewLaw' operates and how we can use legal technology and project management to improve results for clients. It also helped me to develop my skills in building relationships with clients and colleagues and expanded my knowledge of the law.

Transferable skills

This experience solidified my decision to train as a lawyer. After working for three years, I reacquainted myself with student life and embarked on the Diploma. Studying the entire course online due to the pandemic was challenging but I graduated in June 2021 and started my traineeship with Brodies in August, with my first seat in Personal & Family. I've really enjoyed the experience so far and have been involved in wills, powers of attorney and executry matters. While I started my traineeship working from home, I've been able to meet most of my colleagues in person, attend social events and contribute to the firm's mentoring programmes.

Working in the rapidly expanding area of NewLaw gave me a head start for my traineeship. I hit the ground running with already-acquired transferable skills and commercial awareness, which will help me to succeed as a lawyer. These, along with the fact that the team is friendly and welcoming, have made the whole trainee experience much less daunting.

It's never too late to change

The LLB can open many doors and help you pursue a successful career in a range of legal roles. While I have decided to qualify as a lawyer, pursuing an alternative route to get there has been very rewarding. Prospective trainees should not be discouraged from following a less traditional route to qualification. Having that experience under your belt will help you stand out in your traineeship interviews and show that you can take ownership of your career choices.

Whether you qualify as a lawyer at age 25 or 45, pursue an alternative legal career, or do something else entirely, remember that it's never too late to change your career path. I would encourage all law graduates to make the most of opportunities to enrich their skill sets and diversify their traineeship applications. Don't be afraid to break the mould and try something different. Remember, there is #NoWrongPath.

Applications for 2022 summer placements are now open - visit our website to apply


Matt Andrews

Trainee Solicitor