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Law and legal studies courses are interesting and wide-ranging, and can lead to tremendously rewarding and challenging careers.

A law degree doesn’t automatically qualify you to work as a solicitor or barrister. There is further training and study to undergo with the professional legal societies. You don’t need a law degree to pursue these options, although it does make the process a lot easier. In addition, a law degree gives an excellent, broad intellectual education.

You need a good deal of academic ability, dedication, and inclination to pursue a legal career, but for those who can tick these boxes, law is well worth considering.


There are a wide range of law courses available at third level. This includes Law and Legal Studies degrees, while degrees combining Law with another subject such as History, Politics, Philosophy, Taxation, Business, French and German are very popular.

There are also higher-certificate and ordinary degree courses available in Legal Studies and Legal Studies with Business.

Law students study many aspects of Irish and International law (such as tort, contract, criminal, land, constitutional, matrimonial and human rights), as well as subjects such as Irish Legal History and Legal Writing. Students on some courses will also have core or optional subjects in areas such as languages, business and the arts.

Options after Qualification

As already mentioned, a law degree does not mean that you walk into a career with the legal profession. The Law Society oversees the professional training and certification of solicitors, while the Honorable Society of King’s Inns oversees the education of barristers in Ireland.

Newly qualified solicitors usually start as a junior in an established private practice, while new barristers spend a period devilling with an experienced barrister before branching out on their own.

A general law degree also opens many doors in careers such as politics, journalism, lecturing, banking, stock-broking, teaching, property management, and there are opportunities in the public service, insurance, and taxation sectors.

There are lots of opportunities for postgraduate study and research in legal studies, and students can specialise in areas such as human rights, European law or criminal justice.

The Work

Solicitors are often the first port of call for a member of the public when legal matters arise; solicitors can provide all manner of legal advice and services to the public, and to organisations and businesses.
Common tasks and responsibilities include drawing up documents to oversee land and property sales, helping individuals in legal disputes with others (e. g. unlawful dismissal, accidents), drawing up wills and other legal agreements, dealing with business and corporate law (e. g. mergers, copyright issues), advising people in trouble with An Garda Síochána and briefing barristers for court cases.

Some of the bigger firms of solicitors specialise in a particular area, such as environmental or media law.
The main role of the barrister is to plead cases before the district, circuit, high and supreme courts. They can work for the prosecution or the defence. Barristers don’t usually deal with individual members of the public – they receive instructions and briefs from a solicitor. Solicitors often consult barristers for their advice and opinions on specific legal points, even if a court case is not pending.

Barristers also represent clients at tribunals and public enquires, and draft legal documents. Some barristers specialise in certain areas, such as criminal, family or labour law.

Personal Qualities & Work Environment

Legal professionals need the ability to interpret complex information, possess a great deal of patience and display good communication skills. You must also be able to work well under tight deadlines and be capable of handling pressure responsibly. Confidence and public speaking skills are also required.
Solicitors usually work from an office, while barristers divide their time between their chambers and the courtroom. Long hours are common and expected, especially for people beginning their legal careers.

Further Resources

Honorable Society of King’s Inn is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
Career Choices: Colleges of Education


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