Law graduates lose out in the early salary stakes

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Despite having a reputation for rewarding its professionals with high salaries, new research suggests that law may not be the most lucrative subject to study – at least in the early years following graduation. New research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that law graduates typically earn less than the average salary of their peers.

Indeed, even those graduating with degrees in social studies (long regarded – unfairly or otherwise – as being less demanding subjects compared with many traditional subjects) earn more than their counterparts who opted to study law. This is unlikely to be welcome news to current law students studying in London or elsewhere.

law graduate

Figures from the class of 2008/09 show that law graduates earned an average of £26,000 in November 2012, £1,500 less than the overall average of that year’s graduates. Social studies graduates earned an average of £3,000 more than their peers who studied law.[1]

On the flip side, however, law has one of the highest levels of full-time employment amongst its graduates of any subject.

Some 79% of law graduates are currently in full-time employment, compared with a total average of 72% for all graduates from 2008/09.[2]

Of course, that’s not to say that all law graduates are employed in legally-related jobs, let alone having secured training contracts or pupillages. Indeed, some estimates suggest that of total number of law graduates, as few as 10% - 15% go on to become practising solicitors.

Nevertheless, law has long been recognised as being a well-respected and worthwhile subject to study and one that equips its graduates with a vast array of useful, transferable skills that employers are anxious to see.

While the legal profession is undoubtedly changing, with fewer graduates going on to qualify as solicitors and barristers as firms develop a preference for armies of paralegals, law remains a solid choice. It also happens to be an exciting and challenging degree. Universities are also increasingly offering law courses which combine law with other disciplines such as Law and Management to provide even more diverse and specialised courses.

Potential law students should not be discouraged from studying law just because their first salary post graduation might not quite match their peers who studied other subjects. Adopting a longer-term view of the quality of career that law can offer, there are lots of far worse subjects out there.

[1] Story cited from the Law Gazette 09/09/13.
[2] Story cited from the Law Gazette 09/09/13.


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