What can I do with a degree in Law?
Law students are taught how to think critically, how to analyse complex facts and issues, and how to persuade by logical argument.
UC Law students gain a comprehensive grounding in working with statutes, cases and other legal materials. You will learn about law in its wider social, political and historical contexts. UC Law graduates emerge well-rounded, highly competent and with a thorough understanding of the law and all it involves.
Law degrees are popular because of the wide-ranging career opportunities available to Law graduates. There are Law graduates among the judiciary and at all levels of the legal profession, but the core legal skills of research, writing, analysis and reasoning are highly prized in many professions.
Through their degree, Law graduates develop a valuable set of skills and attributes that are transferable to a range of careers. This set includes:
- Analysing, evaluating, critiquing, and synthesising a variety of information types
- Applying a sense of justice and basic principles of fairness and professional ethics
- Problem solving, exercising judgment and making reasoned decisions
- Understanding Aotearoa New Zealand law principles and placing them in a global context
- Oral and written communication skills
- Presentation skills
- Self-management and collaboration skills
- Acquiring new knowledge as the law develops
- Hard work and ability to meet deadlines.
Opportunities to apply your knowledge and skills are available in this degree, through internships, student competitions, and volunteering. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability. They can also inform your learning and skill development in the classroom.
Many people study Law as a means of entering the legal profession as a barrister and/or solicitor. Another consideration is where to work — it is worth thinking about questions such as:
- Would you like to be a solicitor for a legal firm?
- Do you want to work for a large national or small provincial practice?
- Does the idea of working as an ‘in-house’ lawyer in the legal department of a private or public sector organisation appeal to you more?
- Or is a self-employed Barrister-sole more you?
Graduates can follow other law-related careers. For example, as a policy officer in government such as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or Internal Affairs. Other public sector employers are the Police, Probation, Corrections, Office of Treaty Settlements, Customs and Immigration services.
In the private sector Law graduates have skills which are highly valued in finance and business. Alumni can also be found working in media or publishing, health and safety, advocacy, education, research and advisory roles.
Law graduates have a range of jobs available to them — see some examples below.
Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.
Legal practice – barrister / solicitor
- Provides legal advice or legal opinions to clients and sometimes other lawyers
- Prepares documents for court cases
- Makes submissions on behalf of clients
- Represents clients in negotiations, disputes and in court cases
- Drafts legal documents such as commercial contracts, wills, leases etc
- Provides conveyancing services including helping clients buy and sell property
- Specialises in different areas of legal practice such as family, commercial, criminal or civil litigation, immigration and refugee, resource and environmental management, trusts etc.
Government policy analyst / advisor, public sector lawyer
- Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
- Interprets and consults on existing policies
- Reports on, and proposes changes to, the law
Legal advisor / counsel, in-house lawyer, staff solicitor
- Administers the legal aspects of a company
- Prepares and interprets legal documents including contracts
- Ensures regulatory compliance eg, on safety Court officer
- Ensures successful operation of a court
- Serves court attendees and processes files
- Takes court and schedules proceedings
- Provides legal advice for those who may not otherwise have access to it, often at low cost
- Connects clients with resources
- Writes reports and recommendations
Prosecutor — Police / Crown
- Conducts legal proceedings for some criminal, traffic and youth prosecutions
- Advocates for police at coroner’s inquests
- Supports police districts at hearings
- Conducts proceedings in crown prosecutions
- Advises and represents the government on cases that affect all New Zealanders
Public defence lawyer
- Helps people access justice in criminal matters
- Defends clients in criminal court
Māori resource advisor
- Assesses claims under the Treaty of Waitangi
- Applies natural resource law to Māori resources
- Researches and prepares opinions for the judge
- Oversees the processing of all judgments
- Administers meetings and helps write speeches
Business development manager
- Devises sales and marketing strategies
- Identifies new business opportunities
- Manages client relationships
Legal administrator, law clerk
- Handles enquiries and requests
- Drafts legal or court documentation
- Liaises with clients, lawyers, the Police and other professionals
Entrepreneur and CEO
- Develops an idea to form their own business
- Gets involved in a start-up
Get started with Entrepreneurship here
Admission to the bar
In Aotearoa New Zealand, to practice as a Barrister or Solicitor, or call yourself a ‘lawyer’, you must:
- Gain a Bachelor of Laws degree at university
- Complete a practical legal training course
- Pass a character check
- Gain admission to the bar. Once admitted, you (or your firm for you) will need to obtain an annual practising certificate from the Law Society.
Professional and industry organisations
As well as professional registration, industry bodies can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with other professionals.
- New Zealand Law Society
- New Zealand Bar Association
- Public Service Association
- In-house Lawyers Association
- Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa | Māori LawSociety
- Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of NZ Inc
Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help keep you up-to-date with industry knowledge, events and job vacancies.
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