Chance to make a difference 'major draw for lawyers'

Nearly two-thirds of law students go into the profession in order to help others, according to research by The University of Law (ULaw).

While many people assume the majority are lured into the sector by the promise of high salaries, 61 per cent of prospective barristers are actually attracted by the feel good factor that comes with making a difference.

Some 68 per cent of respondents choose to study law because of the interesting and varied work, while 70 per cent admitted they have always had a keen interest in the legal world.

This research underlines that while money and position may influence people to become lawyers, the vast majority have altruistic aims. Indeed, Law Society statistics show that four in ten lawyers undertook some pro bono legal work in 2014.

"The ability to make a real difference [and] bring about positive change are often key drivers behind decisions to pursue a career in law," stated ULaw's employability director Rachel Harris.

She added there has been significant interest in the organisation's pro bono programme, as this gives law students a platform to take personal satisfaction from helping clients that would otherwise have no access to legal assistance.

Financial security and professional responsibility continue to be very attractive features too, as these were important factors for 58 per cent and 54 per cent of legal students respectively.

Regardless of the reasons for getting into law, those starting out have to recognise the wider market forces at work.

Laura Clenshaw, managing editor of the Solicitors Journal, pointed out that in-house roles are being viewed as increasingly attractive among Gen Y lawyers. However, young lawyers have to recognise the different skill set that comes with focusing on both client and business needs.

But the rewarding environment, good work-life balance and chances of real career progression means the appeal of in-house is unlikely to dissipate any time soon.

"This could be a golden age for young lawyers to work in-house, especially considering Gen Y's fervent attitude to reasonable expectations of working hours and quality of life," Ms Clenshaw added.