The Legal Sector: Jobs, Skills and Job Outlook
The legal industry encompasses all of those professions connected with the law and the legal system, such as lawyers, judges, magistrates, notaries and legal consultants, as well as experts in the various branches of law, e.g. commercial law, industrial law, company law, tax law and many others besides.
The legal industry and its professionals are involved in interpreting legislation and verifying its correct application in real life cases. Often, their task is to resolve the conflicts and disputes that arise in all spheres of human activity. Legal professionals may be engaged to provide legal advice in connection with a defective product, represent a victim of fraud, resolve a real estate dispute, prepare a will, provide help incorporating a new business or defend a client against a lawsuit.
Given the legal sector’s very broad scope, legal professionals tend to specialize in one specific area of law, for example in administrative law, criminal law, trial law, environmental law, commercial law, town planning law, labour law or international law.
Typically, advertisements for legal sector jobs require at least a degree in law, together with the specific vocational qualifications and certificates required to practice the profession. However, the sector does offer opportunities at all levels, including for non-graduates, mainly in positions such as legal secretary or in administrative support roles.
What types of businesses operate in the Legal sector?
The majority of job advertisements in the legal sector come from legal firms (which can range in size from small to very large), notarial practices and courts.
Vacancies may also arise within the in-house legal departments of public sector organizations and private businesses - particularly those operating in highly regulated sectors, such as banking, insurance and pharmaceuticals.
Finally, legal experts may also find employment in patent offices, firms specializing in intellectual property rights and copyright law, tax consultancy firms, and companies providing legal advice to specific markets.
Companies hiring in the Legal industry:
Legal Industry - Job Outlook
Overall, employment opportunities for legal professionals are good. Specialist areas offering excellent prospects for a career in the sector include real estate and property law, family law, health law, intellectual property law and immigration law.
Another growth sector is providing cyber security legal consultancy services. With digital technologies evolving extremely rapidly, the laws regulating their use also need to be frequently updated. This issue affects areas such as the laws on privacy and data protection, or copyright laws for digital media.
In addition, businesses are increasingly preferring to have their legal affairs dealt with internally by in-house legal teams, who can offer superior commercial awareness.
Staff in an in-house legal department tend to have a better knowledge of the business and greater proficiency in the areas of law that are most relevant to their company, meaning that their employers need only use outside consultants in cases where highly specialist expertise is required.
What skills are required in the Legal sector?
The following skills are essential for a successful career in the legal industry:
Good written and verbal communication abilities are a vital tool in the legal sector. Strong oratory skills will enable a legal professional to present their position in a persuasive manner, render complex legal concepts in clear, simple language that can be understood by non-experts, and speak in public with confidence. Excellent written communication skills, meanwhile, will ensure that legal sector professionals are able to produce polished, well-worded legal texts.
With typical tasks including extended periods of time spent researching, analysing and interpreting vast amounts of complex information - and then using it to draw inferences and reach conclusions - the legal industry makes significant demands of its workforce. Factor in multiple cases with overlapping deadlines and constantly changing priorities and it’s easy to see why strong organizational skills are an absolute necessity in legal work.
Strong research skills are a key ability for legal sector professionals, who are often required to perform searches for case law, applicable legislation, specific legal codes, or relevant legal opinions. In addition, special research methods and tools exist with which all legal professionals should be familiar.