The legal sector

The legal sector in the UK is divided into a number of jurisdictions: England and Wales have a single jurisdiction, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate jurisdictions. Our courses and qualifications relate to the law as practised in England and Wales.


One of the great attractions of working in the legal sector is that it is so varied. Law firms vary from high-street practices covering all aspects of domestic law to commercial practices located in the City with a global reach. Many law firms specialise in one area of legal practice, such as personal injury claims or family law. Many lawyers don’t work in law firms at all: lawyers are employed in the in-house legal departments of every large business, charitable or public sector organisation. Within the public sector, there are opportunities in local authorities as well as the large government departments such as HMRC, the Land Registry and the Crown Prosecution Service.

A career in law

People who are unfamiliar with the legal system assume that the only way to practise is as a solicitor or as a barrister. However, there a number of other roles in the legal sector. You can qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive lawyer by becoming a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives.

Not everyone who works in law is a qualified lawyer: in almost every law firm or in-house legal department there will be paralegals working under the supervision of a qualified head of department and progressing their own case files.

The new legal apprenticeships allow you to qualify without the cost of going to university.


You may already be working within the legal sector, or you may be looking for your first job in law. Knowing which qualification you need, and where to start, is not always obvious.

The graphic below illustrates the general organisational structure of the legal sector in the UK.