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How to switch from QS to legal

Published on: 13 Aug 2009

Working in Tripoli

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like lawyers are the only people making money? Unfortunately, it is true that in times of market adversity disputes are more frequent as everyone tries to claw in all the money that’s due to them.

The upside to this is that it offers a career opportunity for construction professionals with a scholarly bent – most often QSs, who are traditionally closer to the contractual arrangements on a project and use similar skills in their work.

But where to begin?

There are several avenues open to you if you want to work in construction law, though some of them are pretty hard-going.

The simplest is to move into dispute resolution or expert witness work. This could either be within a specialist practice or a department within a larger consultancy, and could also lead to work as an arbitrator, adjudicator or mediator in disputes. You don’t necessarily need an additional qualification, but a law degree or a masters in construction law would be useful.

You could also retrain as a solicitor or barrister and specialise in construction cases.

This will involve studying for a law degree, or conversion course, and then a further year (or two part-time) on either a Legal Practice Course (LPC) for aspiring solicitors or the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) for barristers. The final stretch is the most difficult: securing a training contract with a law firm or a pupillage at a barristers’ chambers are both notoriously competitive.

Even if you don’t want to specialise in dispute resolution, a law qualification on your CV won’t do any harm.

If you’re definitely intending to remain in construction, a masters has the advantage of being more closely focused – a law degree will involve a broader range of study in areas such as criminal law, which are not relevant – not to mention cheaper and quicker.

Read the full article in Building The law won: QSs join the legal profession.