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Career profile: Charity lawyer

charity lawyerCharities have a different legal status to other organisations, and may need help to make sure they stay within their remit. That is where solicitors specialising in the field can help charities to make the world a better place.

A what?

Charity solicitors are there to help the setting up and running of charities.

On the job

Charities always have to work within charity law. It is the job of a charity lawyer to keep up-to-date with this constantly changing set of regulations and to advise directors and members on how to apply it to their charity. Their clients can vary from small local charities to large international NGOs (non-governmental organisation). They also work for not-for-profit enterprises that rely on trading rather than donations for their income.
The job is very varied, involving many areas of legal practice. Commercial law is a big part of it. Charities can be limited companies, and a lot of charity lawyers work will involve drafting the documentation and advising clients on how to set them up. They will also deal with all the property and tenancy issues, and give advice on methods of expansion and the most effective way to raise funds.

This job appeals to a lot of law graduates because it allows them to play an important role in helping charities work as effectively as possible. Generally their clients are very passionate about making the world a better place, and many find this area of law is both intellectually stimulating, and rewarding.

Course entry requirements

Most undergraduate law courses require eight GCSEs at A and B grades and three or more A-levels. You do not have to study any particular subjects - even law A-level isn’t a requirement - but it is important achieve high grades. Entry requirements do vary according to each institution, so check their prospectus to find exactly what is needed at the university you like best.
If you don’t study law at undergraduate level you will have to get at least a 2:1 (like a grade 'B') to get onto most postgraduate Common Profession Exams or Graduate diploma courses (also known as a conversion course).

What does the training involve?

Then there are two routes you can take. You could complete an undergraduate law degree, followed by a one year Legal Practice Course (LPC). After that you’ll need to be trained ‘on the job’ through a two-year training contract with a law firm.

If you don’t choose law as your undergraduate degree it is still possible to train as a charity lawyer. You’ll need to take a ‘conversion course’, either a Common Profession Exam or Graduate diploma in law for a year before starting the Legal Practice Course, followed by the training contract.

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