Whether you're studying Classics, History, Languages or any other humanities subject, core inter transferable skills make you a prime candidate for law.
The legal recruitment process is undoubtedly competitive and challenging, and many trainees will tell you that securing a training contract is the hardest thing they ever did. The crucial thing about being a candidate from a humanities background is clearly explaining yourself, your motivations and the links back to your degree choice, most importantly, how your current degree links to your future career in law.
Here are some key areas to focus on in training contract application statements, cover letters and further down the line at interview if someone asks you about the relevance of your humanities degree.
Use of Language
Critical thinking is perhaps the greatest skill you'll take away from a humanities degree. Honing and harnessing the ability to analyse and evaluate a set of facts or ideas is one of your strongest assets when applying for a training contract. Throughout both the application process and your career, there will be times when critical thinking will be vital to your success in a situation.
A humanities degree will likely train you to grapple with high volumes of knowledge at all times. Whether you're learning the timeline of the fall of the Ottoman Empire or you are learning how to parse 2000 words, a term in Ancient Greek, you develop the ability to retain and reapply large amounts of knowledge. In law, especially when you are qualifying and working through conversation courses, the SQE being able to store and process knowledge well is a vital part of the process.
Use of Language
How we use language or how another person intended for their language to be used is a common problem that is addressed in a humanities degree, "What did the author really intend in his writing?", "How significant is language theory to modern philosophy?" etc. are all standard essay questions that a humanities student will have likely encountered. Similarly, the law asks the same questions. When addressing statute, you will look at what lawmakers intended the words to mean or why they may have chosen to omit certain words from a definition or classification. Coming to grips with complex language issues puts you a step ahead of other candidates who may have never encountered such questions before.
A humanities degree will teach you to situate information within its historical context. Often, it will allow you to see how an event would have been perceived in its time rather than how it is perceived in the present. The law requires you to do the same, whether it is contextualising the events of a crime or contextualising a piece of statute that dates back to the 1920s.
Interpreting, applying and understanding rules are all cornerstone degree skills. It might be understanding the ablative absolute in Latin or interpreting what Aquinas intended the rules of his Natural Moral law to be. In its simplest form, the law is effectively the fundamental rule underpinning our society. So, working with rules and their impacts is a skill that is vital to any aspiring lawyer.
Any essay, group project or exam will likely test your ability to advocate for a particular point of view or perspective that you deem to be superior to the others. Law also relies heavily on peoples' advocacy abilities. In a law firm, you may be asked to advocate for a client, or during your PGDL, you may have an exam that tests your verbal advocacy skills. Therefore, having harnessed this skill at undergraduate level is another strength in your artillery that you perhaps hadn't identified before.
This list is just a start of some of the key skills you should be able to recognise in your current studies that you can link into law. It is important to make these statements as personal as possible. So when you take a general theme, it's really important to apply that directly to some of your own work in your degree and to an area of law that interests you or a piece of legal experience you have.
Good luck with the next chapter in your career, and please feel free to message me on LinkedIn if you have any questions about how to apply for training contracts or any next steps to take.