Careers and opportunities in law

Opinion & Analysis
The first degree can be in any field. The competencies and skills developed through the study of the law are very helpful and are applicable to a wide range of related fields apart from the legal profession.

THIS piece is for “O” and “A” Level students and high school students in general who  may be thinking of a career in law and the legal profession.

They may not know much about it, but may know and admire someone who is in the legal profession who triggered their interest.

It is never too early to start planning ahead and thinking about the future after school.

Many students get excited about the prospect of leaving school, but have no idea about what to do next.

These are the ex-students who return to school for flimsy reasons to spend the day hanging around the school premises with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

They look as idle and as desperate as they are only for the comforting familiarity and security of the environment that was their second home for many years.

Why a law degree? A law degree is a good idea. It is versatile and opens up vast career opportunities other than just becoming a lawyer.

Being a lawyer or a legal practitioner are not the only jobs open to holders of law degrees.

One never needs to represent a client and appear in court for a single day if they are not inclined that way.

The degree is known as an LLB or LLBS (Legum Baccalareus) and is a four-year programme at most universities.

In the United States, it is a post graduate degree meaning one must have a first degree before entering law school.

The first degree can be in any field. The competencies and skills developed through the study of the law are very helpful and are applicable to a wide range of related fields apart from the legal profession.

A law degree helps develop many skills such as developing good communication skills, problem solving skills, critical thinking, research and good analytic skills.

All these traits are applicable and relevant to other careers which are not law.

Knowledge of the law helps to understand and analyse complex concepts and ability to negotiate better in business and politics.

A law degree is only the beginning of learning and a window into many different careers and opportunities.

Examples of traditional law careers

  1. Litigation specialists such as advocates or attorneys,
  2. Notaries publics (authenticate, certify and execute and draft legal documents like wills, trusts and deeds),
  3. Conveyancers (transfer immovable properties and register securities),
  4. Executors and administrators of deceased estates,
  5. Commissioners of oaths,
  6. Intellectual property attorneys ( registration of inventions, patents, trademarks and copyrights),
  7. Prosecutors (government lawyers who represent the State in criminal matters),
  8. Judges and magistrates.

Examples of careers for law degree holders

  1. Human resources management,
  2. Tax advisory and consultancy,
  3. Investment banking and finance
  4. Company secretarial or compliance officers,
  5. Mediation, arbitration, negotiation and conflict resolution,
  6. International and local developmental work,
  7. Government and politics,
  8. Entrepreneurship,
  9. Academia and research,
  10. Journalism and legal writing.

Local universities require five “O” Level and two “A” level passes. Competition is extremely stiff so “A” Level results have to be very good.

Zimbabwean law schools require at least 12 “A” Level points to be enrolled.

Undergraduate and post graduate courses are taught at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, the Midlands State University in Gweru and Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo.

The University of South Africa offers a highly-respected internationally accepted law degree.

Other university options are available online, so one has to research on their own for the most suitable option for them.

Before embarking on a foreign law degree, one is advised to contact the Council for Legal Education in the Justice ministry.

They will advise about the local applicability and admissibility of law degrees from foreign countries.

Holders of law degrees from foreign universities have to write conversion examinations in order to be registered and practice law in Zimbabwe.

Are there jobs? Young people interested in the field of law should familiarise themselves with the field before and during their studies.

Internship is one of the good ways of gaining experience. One can volunteer to work during school holidays and before and after studies.

Many students who start this way get employed as clerks or messengers.

There is always work to be done in law firms such as researching, typing, filing and delivering court documents and letters.

There are numerous small firms that rely on interns so the opportunities are there.

Apart from all other qualities required for a career in the legal field the most valuable ones are confidence and optimism and the enthusiasm to look for and exploit available opportunities.

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