Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Government Legal Department

The Government Legal Department (GLD) is the umbrella organisation for many of the departmental bodies listed in this section.

The GLD undertakes a huge range of work across all of Whitehall, employing around 2000 lawyers and trainees to provide legal services across over 25 departments, covering varied fields - from the armed forces to zoology, through charities, commerce and industry, constitutional issues, education, farming, finance, health (and safety), human rights, transport, social security, tax and much more.

There is undoubtedly a lot more competition for public sector jobs and their relative security in the present climate.

Once there, there is scope for flexibility between work areas and movement between departments, and the work-life balance is generally good.

Public sector lawyers are by and large expected to be generalists, hence the moving around, broadening and deepening levels of knowledge.

Analytical ability and interpersonal skills are high on the list of qualities that the GLD are looking for, as well as a commitment to public service.

Much of the work involves recently created law, for which there are no precedents or textbooks, necessitating an interest and ability in actual 'law' - as opposed maybe to transaction work.

GLD salaries range from £40,000 for less experienced lawyers, to over the £100,000 region for director-level positions.

Some of the major government legal service departments are listed separately in the alternative careers list - for example, the Treasury Solicitor's Department, HM Revenue & Customs, Ministry of Justice, Revenue & Customs Prosecutions Office, Serious Fraud Office, Welsh Assembly Government etc.

Other major government legal service departments include the Department for Work & Pensions / Health (around 180 lawyers), Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (around 120), and DEFRA (around 100).

Specific vacancies are listed on the GLD website ( and can also be found on the Civil Service website (