By DebbieH 08 Nov 2019 7 min read

Can I work in law without going to law school?

There are so many avenues of law you can work in, and it’s very much the case that you do not have to go law school to become a ‘legal professional’ and work in law.

In partnership with Lawyer Monthly, Simply Law Jobs hears from experts at Augusta Ventures, who discuss the magnitude by which the legal profession extends and just how far you can go without actually having to go to law school.

Many up and coming graduates are attracted to the legal industry, and for good reason. Some are motivated by the opportunity to provide access to justice to those in need, and others are interested in the potential to forge a lucrative career working with top corporate clients. Whether at either end of this spectrum or somewhere in between, most will assume that to work in legal services the only path is is to go through law school. But today, with a widening variety of legal service providers in the market, choice is greater than ever before.

An example of someone making the most of these opportunities is Robert Hanna, co-founder of Augusta, the UK’s largest litigation funder by volume. Robert started his professional journey with a law degree but didn’t continue to law school. Instead he chose another path, taking an MBA and going into the lucrative world of banking. After a successful 25-year career, rising to a Global Head role at Merrill Lynch, Robert set up litigation funder Augusta in 2013 with his partners Neill Brennan and Louis Young. Yet, none of the three founders have ever practised in the law.

“I’d always had a passion for the law” said Robert. “I was initially seduced by the trappings of a career in banking but constantly strove to do something that had greater social utility” he continues. “When litigation funding became legal in England & Wales a decade ago, I saw the opportunity to enter the wider legal services profession, without needing to go back to law school…My partners and I are all financiers by background, and we saw the need in the market to offer financial risk management skills to lawyers, so together set up Augusta”.

Today, Augusta is one of several litigation funders who combine sound financial skills with strong legal acumen. Nearly all the businesses in the sector have built in-house teams to analyse cases, diligence the parties involved and make investments aimed at empowering claimants to seek redress. Such firms offer those with a keen interest in the law, whether with a finance or a legal background, the opportunity to work in legal services without needing to take the traditional LPC or BPTC route. “We look for strong commercial skills that can help support our clients, and these can come from those with either legal or finance backgrounds,” said Robert.

The development of the litigation funding industry is aligned to the growth in other legal services providers, from e-discovery to forensics and consulting. A common theme amongst many of these businesses is not a law school education, rather a keen interest in the law and strong commercial or technical skills that can be brought to bare on legal challenges. “We work with many of the City’s top law firms,” said Robert, “and they employ the brightest, most capable solicitors from the best law schools. But what they need from others in the legal services industry are complementary skills, with a different perspective, rather than more of the same”.

As technology continues to develop, and market acceptance of new products and services, such as litigation finance, increases, the range of opportunity for those wishing to work in the law, but not go to law school, seems set to continue apace.