A career in law for STEM students

Justice statue

Graduate Recruitment Manager, Zoe Reid and Alexander Gower, a partner at Osborne Clarke (a law firm in Bristol) gave students an insight into how to navigate the legal career as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students. Here is their advice to students in the Faculties of Engineering, Life Sciences and Science who are interested in a career in the legal sector.  

How to stand out as a non-law STEM student?  

When answering why law firms may recruit students from non-law disciplines, Alexandra, who graduated from a joint honours in biology and geography in her undergraduate studies, emphasised the role of lawyers in working with clients from diverse sectors. Law firms generally recruit around 60% law students and 40% non-law students for their trainee intake.  

Alexandra highlighted some of the fast-moving sectors that STEM students may have the technical knowledge for such as energy and utilities, life sciences and the environment, and transport and infrastructure. While the law forms a part of a lawyer’s role, it also involves understanding clients’ business to provide effective legal advice with business overlay. 

I don’t have any legal work experience, what should I do?  

For students who don’t have legal work experience, Zoe encourages students to utilise their personal interests and extracurricular activities to demonstrate their motivation for becoming lawyer. As a Graduate Recruitment Manager, Zoe highlights the importance of finding an area of interest such as sports that students can talk confidently about on an application form or during an interview.  

Given that the purpose of a training contract is to provide the necessary training required to be a successful lawyer, law firms prioritise transferable skills developed through any experience, including your degree. Some skills that STEM students can highlight include analytical problem-solving, research, numeracy, and coding as well as technical knowledge of specific sectors. 

How can a STEM student explain why they want to be a lawyer when they did not choose to study law in university?  

Zoe encourages students to reflect on an area of the legal field that they are interested in exploring further. “Non-law students’ reasons for becoming a lawyer are just as justified and reasons will be individual to the students themselves”. 

Image of the University of Bristol Law Fair 2023 showing student networking in the Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building

It is important to demonstrate commercial awareness and a genuine interest in law to stand out as a STEM student. To show that the decision to pursue law is a considered option, Zoe and Alex shared some ways for students to gain insights into a career in law: 

Learn more – read the Law Sector Guide

Use our sector guides to find out about areas of work that interest you. Each guide provides a summary of the sector, entry requirements and information about how to find a job in that field. Get information about converting to law, and finding a job in the legal sector in our Legal Services sector guide.