Self-employment as an alternative career choice for law graduates

self employed
26 Sep 2018

South Africa’s unemployment rate has risen to 27.2% during the second quarter of this year, up from the 26.7% of the first 3 months of 2018. No sector is entirely safe, including sought-after white-collar industries such as finance and law. According to an article published in Business Day, not all LLB graduates will go on to do their articles in good law firms. With the possibility of inferior career prospects hanging over their heads, law students need to equip themselves as best possible to ensure that their futures do not fade into obscurity. One way to ensure that you are guaranteed a job after graduating is to take charge of your own destiny by creating job opportunities for yourself.

Become a freelance paralegal or legal consultant

After graduation, a law student can choose to start practicing as a freelance legal consultant or paralegal, providing a pertinent service to a variety of potential clients. Paralegals are essentially self-employed, offering their services to both law firms and private clients who require legal assistance. Depending on the path you choose to take, you can end up providing assistance to anyone from victims of prejudice to endangered wildlife. At present time, the paralegal industry is growing steadily, which is great news for any law students considering it as a long-term career path.

Non-legal career options

Ever wondered what Peter Thiel, Herb Kelleher, Patrice Motsepe and President Cyril Ramaphosa have in common apart from being self-made billionaires? They are all in possession of law degrees. May law-school graduates choose to not actively pursue a legal career, instead opting to become self-employed in a variety of financially-rewarding fields including finance, commercial management, and entrepreneurship. A law background can give a budding entrepreneur a distinct advantage in the cut-throat world of business. Choosing to be an entrepreneur instead of a traditional legal practitioner is a big decision that carries a significant amount of risk as well as great potential. Law graduates are inherently both confident and in possession of fantastic negotiation skills which will serve them well should they choose to start their own business.

The risks and benefits of being self-employed

While there are undoubtedly risks associated with being self-employed, there are also countless benefits. As a law graduate, you will be familiar with the tax benefits self-employed individuals qualify for, together with greater earning potential and flexible working conditions. Fortunately for young entrepreneurs (both with and without qualifications), there are a number of initiatives such as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (sefa) that provide funding and support for individuals with promising ideas. If you have a viable idea that you can combine with your legal background to forge a promising business opportunity, it might be worth your while to take the plunge and become one of South Africa’s newest young entrepreneurial success stories.

As a law-school graduate you will have endless options as far as career choices are concerned. Whether you choose to forge a legal career for yourself or find the sound of being self-employed in a different field more appealing, the world can truly be your oyster if you apply yourself to your studies and make wise choices that will benefit your future in the long-run.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)