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6 Top Career Paths for Law Graduates

Are you thinking about applying to law school? Or are you already on your way to becoming a fully qualified lawyer? Either way, there's one more decision you'll have to make: what kind of lawyer do you want to be? Are you interested in making the world a better and safer place for others? Or maybe you're drawn to the jet-setting lifestyle of a high-flying corporate lawyer? So to help you find the right career path, here are six specialist areas law graduates can work in.

Feb 9, 2023
  • Education
6 Top Career Paths for Law Graduates

Cybersecurity lawyer

Earlier this year the World Economic Forum cited cyberattack as one of the biggest security threats over the coming years. Cyberattacks can disrupt global supply chains, release sensitive data, or hold companies or institutions for ransom. JBS, a Brazilian-based meat manufacturer, recently paid hackers $11 million to end a major cyberattack. Unfortunately, such incidents are becoming increasingly common, and with large parts of the developed world preparing for a new wave of digitalization, cybersecurity will be at the forefront of many peoples' minds. Cybersecurity lawyers can work as litigators or advisers for tech companies, large corporations, financial institutes, or governments. Cybersecurity is a challenging and highly technical field that evolves at lightning speed, so you’ll need some advanced IT skills and training.

Cyberspace/internet lawyer

Cyberspace law is a less technical field than cybersecurity. However, it's just as important, and cyberspace lawyers are always in high demand. Also referred to as internet lawyers, cyberspace attorneys help businesses and entrepreneurs create and maintain their websites. They deal with a wide range of issues, including domain name licensing, intellectual property, online business regulations, privacy, censorship, and internet defamation. The role doesn’t require any advanced digital skills. Don't worry if you can't code, design software, or analyze abstract data. Instead, cyberspace attorneys focus on the laws and regulations of the internet. This involves lots of reading, digesting complex information, and staying up to date with any changes or amendments.

Marketing and advertising lawyers

Advertising lawyers ensure their client's marketing and advertising campaigns comply with legal guidelines. For example, advertisements must provide an accurate description of a product or service. These descriptions should be truthful, honest, and not deliberately misleading. Moreover, messages should be socially responsible, For example, not promote dangerous, illegal, or harmful behaviors.

The UK has a strict set of laws that regulate advertising for gambling. Under the Gambling Act 2005, adverts must not suggest that gambling can solve financial concerns, link gambling to seduction, or target vulnerable adults or children. When and where these messages appear is another critical issue advertising lawyers have to address. Last year, Britain's biggest gambling companies voluntarily agreed to a 'whistle to whistle' advertising ban. Under the agreement betting, adverts must not be shown on TV five minutes before or after a live sporting event before a 9pm watershed. Since the measures were introduced, the amount of betting ads seen by people aged under 18 has fallen by a staggering 97%.

Regulatory/compliance law

Regulatory lawyers work for companies and organizations operating within a regulatory framework, usually outlined and enforced by a third party. For example, financial services companies in the UK must work within guidelines set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). These include treating customers fairly, data protection, and encouraging healthy competition. Companies may hire a regulatory lawyer when setting up, or keep one on retainer as a consultant. Other companies may bring in regulatory lawyers to review their internal processes and offer advice on remaining compliant. Alternatively, companies will hire a regulatory lawyer to represent them in disputes with third parties.

Regulatory lawyers also work in the energy sector, entertainment industry, defense, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications. Those with years of experience can use their skills and knowledge to work for the regulators, government departments, or charitable organizations dedicated to protecting peoples' rights.

Finance and banking

Law is a highly respected and well-paid profession. On average, lawyers make between $80,000-$186,000 per year. If you want to be at the higher end of the scale, then you should consider banking law. It’s one of the best-paid professions within the legal industry.

Banking and financial regulations are highly complex and technical. As such, banking lawyers tend to specialize in one area, such as corporate finance, international finance law, private equity deals, lending practices, and banking regulations. Banking lawyers require outstanding interpersonal and negotiation skills, as well as exceptional attention to detail. After all, missing a single line of the fine print could scupper a deal worth millions.

Banking has a reputation for being a cut-throat industry that values profits over people. However, ethical banking and finance are on the rise. Ethical banks, such as Starling and Monzo, don’t provide services or invest in organizations that promote harmful behaviors, such as arms manufacturers and tobacco companies. They also won’t lend to companies extracting fossil fuels. Other ethical banks provide financial services in line with religious beliefs. Islamic finance adheres to Sharia laws that prevent the collection and payment of interest on loans. Islamic finance lawyers work with Muslim borrowers, lenders, and investors to ensure they can access financial services without compromising their religious or cultural values.

Furthermore, ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria is becoming increasingly important in business. These standards measure the ethical impact and sustainability of companies and organizations, such that investors have a clear idea of the impact companies have on the world when making investment decisions.

Patent lawyer

Patents are legal documents that grant intellectual property rights to an inventor. The patent provides the inventor with exclusive rights to the patented process, design, or invention for a designated period. In other words, you then 'own' that idea or invention and can take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, or sells it without your permission. To patent an invention or design, it must fit very specific criteria. It must be something that can be made or used, i.e., it doesn't occur naturally and performs a particular function. It has to be new and inventive, rather than a modification of something that already exists. These distinctions can be extremely subtle, and many different companies and entrepreneurs compete for the same patents. That's where patent lawyers come into the equation.

Patent attorneys specialize in preparing and filing patent applications and representing their clients in court for patent-related matters, such as infringement, licensing, and re-examination. Many tech and engineering companies have their own in-house patent lawyers, while others hire from private firms specializing in patent and copyright law. Patent lawyers require an academic background, or at least a strong interest, in science and engineering. They also need to pass various professional exams to qualify as a chartered patent attorney.

Becoming a lawyer is tough. It's a long and testing journey that demands lots of sacrifices and hard work. Keeping yourself motivated is essential. That won't always be easy, but having a clear career path will help you keep your eyes on the prize.

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Ashley Murphy


After graduating with a degree in English literature and creative writing, Ashley worked as a bartender, insurance broker, and teacher. He became a full-time freelance writer in 2016. He lives and writes in Manchester, England.