Alternative Careers for Lawyers

Teaching Law

Although a return to law school may bring some out in spots, there is a huge variety of work within legal education.

Postgraduate law colleges: Tutors teach on a number of different courses, the most obvious being the academic stage (Graduate Diploma of Law) or the vocational stage (Legal Practice Course or Bar Vocational Course). Teaching on the LLB is becoming increasingly common as postgraduate providers move into the undergraduate market. The teaching on these courses involves two different environments - formal lecturing to audiences of over 60 and more interactive workshops of 20 students. Once in a teaching environment, there are numerous opportunities to diversify into professional development lecturing (to qualified lawyers), course design, pastoral care, managing relationships with particular law firms or indeed management within the law school context. Tutors are also involved in assessing the students and helping with extra-curricular activities, including mooting competitions, remedial grammar classes, student-organised external speaker events and student publications.

Universities: Alternatively there is the purely academic direction (LLB, LLM). This can be less immediately accessible, as many Universities require academic experience (a Masters, and increasingly a completed PhD, or at least a willingness to embark on one). The directions in which you can go thereafter are numerous. As with the postgraduate professional courses, there is a great diversity on offer, including course design and management. In addition, research in specialist areas is encouraged. This provides an autonomy not found in most professions and an opportunity to develop and disseminate specific interests, not only to students but potentially on an international scale. It allows you to consider the theoretical underpinnings of the law in its historical and social context, not merely its practical application. The autonomy and the flexibility in the weekly and yearly structure of work make the purely academic environment fairly unique.

Either way, it is said that no two classes are the same. Students ask challenging questions and can be hugely entertaining. The long holidays are the obvious upside in traditional universities although other providers are reacting to student and law firm demands to provide shorter, more intensive courses. Consequently teaching is often ongoing for 50 weeks of the year and holidays must be booked and taken as in any business environment.

Lecturing can be extremely rewarding and actually more physically demanding than the long hours in practice. Not only is a very sound knowledge of law required but also an ability to read people in order to deal with boisterous students, while bringing out the best side of those who are more reserved. A talent for livening up the more turgid areas of law is another prerequisite, together with an ability to inspire students onto the next stage of their careers.

Also for a university environment, see 'Legal Research'.

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