So, you are thinking of a career within legal services?
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So, you are thinking of a career within legal services?

Introduction

Many people are interested in undertaking a career within law but need more information upon which to make that informed decision. The purpose of this section, is to provide clear, informative and relevant information for anyone who is considering studying law or beginning a career within the legal services sector.
First of all, let us look at that expression, “the legal services sector.” A career in law is not confined to lawyers, Judges or Courtrooms. The provision of legal advice on a business matter and dealing with common issues such as buying a house are both elements of the very wide spectrum of services that legally qualified people do every day. The breadth of advice given to clients and the practical assistance provided to them encompasses so many different aspects of law that we refer to this diverse area of professional employment as “The legal services sector.”
A career within the legal services sector will be engaging, challenging and rewarding. You will quickly realise that whilst a general event, such as buying a house, may share similarities, each transaction has its own challenges and circumstances. No two days are likely to be the same. In addition to this, law affects everyone’s lives every day, albeit in different ways. Legal services include everyday events such as Consumer law, Employment law and Family law; but it can also include Criminal law, International law and Corporate law. No matter what aspect of life or commerce you can mention, legal services will have some relationship with it. As such, a career in legal services, where you will provide advice and assistance in some of the most challenging or difficult times a person or business might encounter, can be incredibly rewarding.

The sources of law within the United Kingdom

We can first consider what the term ‘law’ means. As we think about that, we might find that this is not as straightforward as we first thought. We can, however, suggest that law is a set of rules that plays an important part in the creation and maintenance of social order. Law keeps the peace and ensures that we are treated equally and fairly by everyone else, the courts and the Government.

The common law and judicial precedent

What do we mean when we speak of the common law and what does judicial precedent mean? Previously, common law meant the Law developed by judges in the eleventh and twelfth centuries to form a ‘common’ law for the whole country. This was not a successful way to create legal rules, so we now regard common law as being Judge-made law developed through judicial precedent. Judicial precedent means a decision that has been reached in one court that other courts will follow.
A common law system is one that follows our English case-based system; these are mainly US and Commonwealth countries. This can be contrasted with what can be defined as being Civil law systems. These systems are those operated in European countries influenced by Roman law and which are largely code-based.

Statute law

Statute law refers to law that has been created by Parliament, including the devolved Parliaments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in the form of legislation. Although there was a significant increase in statute law in the twentieth century, the courts still have an important role to play in creating and operating law generally, and in determining the operation of legislation in particular. Taking the Westminster Parliament as an example, the starting point for any Statute is usually a green (consultative) paper. Draft proposals (a white paper) then follow before a bill is presented before Parliament. Ultimately, after Royal Assent, an Act of Parliament becomes law in the UK.

Delegated legislation

Delegated legislation is also referred to as being secondary legislation. This does not mean that it is in any way less important or that it is less effective. Delegated legislation is legislation that is passed by another representative body other than central Government to make changes to a law without needing to create a completely new Act of Parliament.
There are three main forms of delegated legislation: statutory instruments, bylaws and Orders in Council. Statutory instruments were created by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. There are four forms of the statutory instrument: Regulations, Orders in Council, Orders and Rules. Bylaws are made by local authorities, public and nationalised bodies and deal with matters within their limited jurisdiction. Bylaws have to be approved by the Central Government. Orders in Council are approved by the Privy Council and signed by the Queen.

European law and Human Rights

Despite the decision on the part of the United Kingdom to leave Europe and to forever change the relationship that the UK has with its European counterparts, European law will continue to have an impact and effect upon the UK. The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. Under the UK-EU withdrawal agreement, a transition period will end on 31 December 2020 unless extended. During that time, the UK will be treated for most purposes as if it were still an EU member state, and most EU law (including as amended or supplemented) will continue to apply to the UK.
Following the completion of the EU withdrawal process from 1 January 2021, the Westminster Parliament will no longer have to comply with human rights obligations in EU Treaties or new EU directives and regulations protecting fundamental rights that are not already enshrined in UK law. This is all however subject to any future trade agreement being concluded with the EU, which might reflect enhanced commitments.