Featured Career – Lawyer


Today, our featured career is ‘Lawyer’. A career in law is challenging, but comes with immense rewards. As a lawyer, whichever route you specialise in, you will need to read a lot of information, stay up to date with current (often changing) legal terms and practices, and be able to apply these to new cases. To study law, you can either study a certified law degree (LLB), or you can study any other undergraduate degree and then take a law conversion course (Graduate Diploma in Law, GDL).

Broadly, there are two main types of lawyer: solicitors and barristers. Solicitors primarily work from law firms and offices, proving legal advice for clients or their employer. Barristers are specialists in advocacy (supporting others to express their views and wishes). Barristers are able to represent clients and members of the public in court: many are self-employed (working in offices called chambers), or work for government departments and agencies. As a note, in some cases solicitors may also be able to represent in court, but not at the same level as a barrister, and this is not a typical part of their role. For a more complete summary of the differences between solicitors and barristers, click here.

To become either a solicitor or a barrister you will need to undertake further training after your undergraduate degree, whether or not it was in Law. Recently, changes to the training for both solicitors and barristers has been announced, and the training routes may change over the next few years. Click here for more information about the new SQE route of qualification for aspiring solicitors, which will replace both the GDL and LPC. If you are interested in a career in law, you should keep up to date with the most recent training requirements – the Oxford Careers Service pages below have further information on these updates.

Gemma Clark

Current Role: Trainee Solicitor, Wright Hassall LLP

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Durham University

Brief Biography: Prior to university, Gemma Clark undertook two placements in law firms, to gain experience and observe life as a solicitor. Having studied her undergraduate degree at Durham University, Gemma Clark was awarded a training contact at the law firm Wright Hassall LLP, who funded her to study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at The University of Sheffield. Having completed the LPC, Gemma Clark joined Wright Hassall LLP as a trainee solicitor, undertaking a series of ‘seats’ within different sectors of law during her two-year training contract, including: employment law, property law and probate law. This included a challenging period working within employment law during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the introduction of the furlough scheme.

After finishing her training contract, Gemma Clark plans to begin work as a full solicitor. In her spare time, she enjoys baking (especially brownies), scrap-booking and playing sports.

Matthew Hoyle

Current Role: Barrister, One Essex Court; Law Tutor, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

Undergraduate Degree: Law BA, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: After completing his Bachelor of Law, Matthew Hoyle studied a Bachelor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford, a course reserved for outstanding first Law degree students, and achieved a Distinction. During this course, Matthew Hoyle was a Pump Court Tax Chambers Scholar, and was awarded the following prizes: Oxford Law Faculty Prize for the best paper in Commercial Remedies; Sir Roy Goode Prize for the best performance in the BCL examinations at St John’s College; St John’s College Prize for examination achievement.

He was elected to a Lord Denning Scholarship by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn to undertake his Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at BPP Law School, and achieved an excellence award. Since 2018, Matthew Hoyle has taught Law, first at The London School of Economics, then at St Catherine’s College (University of Oxford), and the University of Oxford Faculty of Law. Matthew Hoyle undertook his pupillage (barrister training) at One Essex Court barristers’ chambers, where he currently works as a Barrister.

The UK Supreme Court

Lawyers have to have a good understanding not only of the technical detail of the cases they’re dealing with but the importance of the Law to British society in general. Did you know the UK has an uncodified constitution, and that judges make law, which forms part of our constitution? Today’s activities look at the UK Supreme Court, the final court of appeal in the UK, and consider the importance of some of its most influential decisions since its foundation in 2009.

Want to know more?

To find out more about working as a lawyer, either as solicitor or a barrister, take a look at the following explore-a-career pages:

To explore other career options that might interest you, there are lots of tool available! We recommend starting by exploring job sectors and occupations on the following websites:

Talking to people who are currently doing a role you are interested in, organising some work experience where you can shadow someone doing this role, or reading first-hand accounts from people working in the area you are interested in can all help you find out more about a particular job!

To find out more about studying a subject at University, you can also talk to current St John’s students using Inspire Chat by clicking here!