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What advice would you give to 17 year old you on how to be successful in your career as a lawyer?

"I know the path to practising as a lawyer is a difficult one. With the knowledge, you have now, what advice would you give to 17 year old you on how to be most successful in your career?"

graduate with a gavel that judges use in the court room

29 March 2021

It is brilliant that you want to study law at university. As you say it involves lots of hard work with lots of reading. I have no doubt that with your determination you will succeed.

Studying law covers a wide range of subjects. These can include areas such as criminal law, commercial contracts, human rights and international trade. 

Unlike, say, medicine, there are no particular subjects you should study at school. We, at UCL, have law students who studied at school a mix of subjects including history, english, economics, maths, and the sciences. The most important thing is that you enjoy what you study and do well in whatever subjects you choose.

In addition, I would recommend that you do the following over the next few years:

  1. Read a good introductory book to the law (eg The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham published by Penguin)

 2. Go and visit a Crown Court near you. These are criminal courts dealing with the most serious cases. The courts are open to the public and you can sit in the public gallery. However, you will have to wait until you are fourteen before you can do this. You could ask your school if they could organise a school visit

 3. UCL also runs a 'Masterclass' programme for year 12 students. This includes a session for aspiring lawyers.

 4. I also attach a note on courts and judges which I prepared which you might find useful by way of background. PDF iconenglish_courts_and_robes.pdf

 5. Many law firms organise introductory sessions for a day or two for those thinking about a legal career. Check with your school since they may already have an arrangement with a local law firm to provide this for pupils.

 6. Once you are a bit older you could apply to do some work experience at a law firm. For example, here is a link to the programme run by Hogan Lovell, a large international law firm: https://graduates.hoganlovells.com/opportunities/work-experience (There are many other similar schemes run by other firms.)

I hope that this provides some guidance but please let us know if we can provide any more information and help. 

All the best.