Law presents a gateway to many things. Some decide to enter and leave fully equipped for something different. Others will choose to take an entirely different path, equipping themselves with a multitude of other skills before eventually taking the gateway of a law degree to a legal career.
Often, but not always, a twist in the economy will be the inspiration an individual needs to make such a change. Perhaps they have lost their job, perhaps they are disenfranchised, perhaps they are merely seeking something new.
At the University of Western Sydney, head of the law school Michael Adams says that, in his experience at UWS and in his previous role at UTS, the variety and background of students studying law is fascinating. When dealing with professionals - such as engineers, doctors, dentists and the like - he says often the motivation comes from them having contact with law in a negative way - finding themselves involved in litigation and getting frustrated by the legal process because they haven't understood it.
"Law is one of those things that acts as a vortex," he says. "Once you get a taste of it, it sucks you in and you want to know more and more."
But for all the individuals who pursue a career in law after developing careers in different areas, there are other individuals who turn away from careers in law and move into something else.
According to Bruce Lee, managing director of talent management and outplacement provider Lee Hecht Harrison, it's a situation we might see more of as the economic situation takes hold, hitting people who may not have previously seen the negative cycle of business. "I think one of the things that is occurring in business at the moment is that there is a lot of focus on that age group (people in their 30s and 40s) thinking: 'Gee this corporate world is pretty thankless and tough, and although I worked my backside off to get a good job and to be making good money, in the end I am just a number.'"
Deborah Wilson, CEO of business consultancy Deborah Wilson, notes that legal degrees, qualifications and skills are easily transferable, opening a range of opportunities to lawyers outside of the legal sector. "I don't think enough people follow their dreams," she says. "And a lot of people get into that rut and follow the path of [becoming] lawyers and accountants for their families."
Like this story? Read more: