When you think of a career in law, for many people it may conjure up an image of the courtroom from Law & Order, the detectives from CSI, or maybe something far less exciting such as an old man in a white wig and red robes. But the reality of a career in law is very different. A career in this industry is varied and can take you into many different areas.

The Northern Ireland legal sector has grown significantly in recent years, with local firms operating competitively within Northern Ireland and beyond. The sector has been boosted by investment from global legal companies which have introduced a wide range of opportunities for qualified and support staff within their firms.

Aside from being a solicitor, a barrister or a judge, there are many different career paths you can take in the legal sector. Roles such as a paralegal, legal executive or court clerk are all alternative routes you can take to begin your career in this industry. Some employers may require a law degree for these roles and some many not, requirements will vary depending on each employer.


Oral communication Analytical and Logical Reasoning Commercial awareness People skills Attention to detail Research and analysis Creative problem solving Resilience and self-confidence Written Communication Legal Research


If you choose to start a career in law there are many different options you can take. If you decide you want to practice, you can join a law firm such as Cason McDowell, who are one of the most well-respected local law firms in NI, working with many of NI’s Top 100 companies. Another local law firm who hires graduates is Tughans. Tughans are an award-winning firm who works with global brands such as Tesco, Diageo, Abercrombie & Fitch and the Hilton Group.

If you would prefer to work for a larger company, there are other international law firms such as Herbert Smith Freehills and Allen & Overy who have set up a base here. These firms are well established and well regarded in the industry, and frequently take on graduates every year.

If being on the front line isn’t for you, you could go ‘in-house’ and work at any employer in a legal capacity, eg: a Legal Associate at Pwc for example, utilising your knowledge in the legal world but applying it to a different industry.

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Northern Ireland boasts two of the top 15 law schools in the UK

Around 80 per cent of paralegals in the UK are law graduates

Legal services in Northern Ireland are delivered by over 650 local law firms

In the UK, approximately 30,000 people graduate with a degree in Law

Perks & Benefits

Salaries for graduates in this industry start at an average of £18,000 and can rise to £20,000 depending on experience and your qualification. This salary is standard for grads across many different roles in Law, including Legal Analyst or Contract Analyst roles. Some roles you may be able to get up to £22,000, again depending on your experience and also depending on the employer. Large multinationals such as Pwc may pay up to £22,000 for roles such as Legal Associate.

The benefit of a career in the legal sector is that there is room for progression. If you progress to a solicitor you can be looking at £23,000+ starting salary. As you progress, salaries will too, and many people in this sector are well remunerated, for legal roles but also support roles too. For example, it is not uncommon for a legal secretary to earn up to £24,000.

Although it is a well-paid sector, which is respected and exciting. It is by no means easy. Working hours can be long and it may take years of hard work to get where you need to be. Do plenty of research into the sector and explore all of the different options available before you make a decision.

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The typical route to entry in this industry is with a law degree. Law is a popular choice among students in Northern Ireland. Both Queen’s and Ulster University offer courses In Law if this is the path you want to go down. In Queen’s you can study pure Law or take an alternative course such as Law and Politics. Ulster offers over 35 undergraduate courses containing Law, ranging from pure Law, Accounting and Law, Law with Irish and Law with Marketing. Or you could also consider a degree in areas such as Criminology & Social Justice or International Business Law. You are spoilt for choice!

Ulster University is also home to the Legal Innovation Centre, which is a collaboration between the School of Law and the School of Computing & Intelligent Systems. The centre is the first of its kind in the UK and aims to bring together research and technology in order to benefit the education and training of NI’s future lawyers. The centre also aims to advance legal informatics which looks at the automation of legal analysis.

Getting a place in Law in university can be very competitive due to the popular nature of the course.

Courses Available

Ulster Uni

Ulster University

35+ Courses
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Queen's University

5+ Courses
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Industry Partners

The Law Society of Northern Ireland

The Law Society of Northern Ireland is the regulatory and representative body for solicitors in Northern Ireland.

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The Bar of Northern Ireland

The Bar of Northern Ireland is the leading provider of advocacy, legal opinion and dispute resolution, supporting solicitors and clients in navigating through complex legal cases.

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Sign up to Radar for the latest student and graduate opportunities from across Northern Ireland, receive careers advice, and be the first to know about our careers events. Find your career today