DD undecided - Law or Engineering -

(75 Posts)
hattymattie Thu 20-Dec-12 14:08:58

My daughter is absolutely stressed about what she should study - she would be a great lawyer but also is looking at engineering on the advice of her dad who is a civil engineer. She's not sure what branch of engineering she should look at and also how women get on in this male dominated profession. I would be particularly interested in anybody's experience - their degree, career path, whether they enjoy/regret their career.

Thank you - I know there is a shortage of engineers and too many lawyers so this may be a more sensible option if she enjoys the subject matter.

HelpOneAnother Thu 20-Dec-12 14:37:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HelpOneAnother Thu 20-Dec-12 14:39:50

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ValentineWiggins Thu 20-Dec-12 14:42:31

Engineering...then there is the option of law conversion afterwards...that doesn't work the other way round!

Def engineering. The world will be her oyster. DH is one, and we have had great opportunities. And there are plenty of jobs - from graduate entry upwards.

Wow, law or engineering, they are poles apart smile

What does she love more? Which subjects are currently her strengths? As they are so far removed from one another perhaps she has a preference deep down for one of them and for the subjects required to study it?

wanderingalbatross Thu 20-Dec-12 14:50:10

I am an Engineer, and I think it's a great degree that has a lot of other options for future careers. I'd recommend a general engineering degree as then you can specialise in your third and fourth years, or at masters level, and you get a good grounding in everything. In contrast to what a previous poster said, most of my engineering uni friends have great careers with good salaries. Does your daughter have any specific questions? And does she like maths? Wouldn't do engineering if she's not keen on maths.

Sorry, know nothing about law!

SingingSands Thu 20-Dec-12 14:55:03

Is she interested in healthcare? My degree course was Prosthetics & Orthotics, and awarded by the engineering department of the university. It's not an obvious one!

hattymattie Thu 20-Dec-12 14:55:42

Thank you help - that is food for thought. I did think that in the future we would have a higher demand for engineers and the pay would therefore balance out.

Behind DD1 is good all rounder - this is turning out to be a mixed blessing - she loves English Lit and Physics/Maths - she can choose.

Valentine it's true we are looking at the law conversion option. DH is a consultant - so isn't directly involved in engineering anymore - I should add that we are in France - so DH thinks automatically that grande ecole is the way to go. Her school however says she would bloom more in the UK (I tend to agree with this).

HelpOneAnother Thu 20-Dec-12 15:11:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PeskyPiskie Thu 20-Dec-12 15:43:17

I did a general engineering degree and then a law conversion course. I now work in the tech industry and would recommend taking my path, although it is a long one! It is not necessary (or always desirable) to take a law degree to become a lawyer. If you DD likes engineering and is happy to spend 3 or 4 years studying the subject I think she should take that route. It leaves her with more options at the end e.g. patent attorney.

creamteas Thu 20-Dec-12 15:45:05

Does she have a preferred study method?

Law - lots of reading, long essays, critical assessment
Engineering, - problem solving, more practical, maths

If the mode of study doesn't suit, it is difficult to do well. One of the things I stress at open days to prospective social science students is that if they hate reading and like 'certainly' they are in the wrong place!

wavesandsmilesatSanta Thu 20-Dec-12 16:01:46

Only bits of advice I can add, are that I was another "good all rounder" at school and really struggled with what to study at uni. I did a degree in English (after toying with engineering, funnily enough), and then, some years on, have done the law conversion course. I did this, and the subsequent vocational course by distance learning, and in my limited experience, those who successfully got pupillages. training contracts were those who had not studied only Law, but who had first degrees in other subjects, and work experience in specific sectors which added to their ability to specialise in particular areas of law. It certainly seems easier to move into law, having studied other subjects, than it is to move into other, particularly more specialised, fields.

hattymattie Thu 20-Dec-12 16:17:34

Thank you - waves that is very interesting - I had heard that often law firms prefer people who've done conversion rather than law degrees for this very reason.
pesky what is the tech industry - and what made you do law at the end rather than continuing in pure engineering?

PeskyPiskie Thu 20-Dec-12 16:59:46

I'm in the semiconductor industry and decided against engineering after my sandwich year. I realised that I rather liked being in an office and not on the "shop floor" so I worked in a law firm and then did my conversion course etc. It has proved useful to have a background in engineering for my job. I can at least read a very basic logic diagram and understand the personalities of the engineers in the company I'm in - think The Big Bang Theory but in an office rather than a university grin

LIG1979 Thu 20-Dec-12 18:20:43

I am a medical engineer and love it. We have a real struggle to recruit good engineers so there are always vacant jobs. The pay isn't great compared to city bankers (isn't bad either) but for a job I love and good hours it is worth it. The nhs paid for me to do a masters and diploma and gave me a salary whilst doing this. When I was younger I travelled a fair bit but that was out of choice and not wanting to work in a hospital with no travel. Now I work in cancer treatment in a private company and work in engineering management. Please feel to pm me if you want to know more.

Another advantage of an engineering degree is that it doesn't shut any doors and you can still do a law conversion or patent law later. With a law degree you couldn't then become an engineer without doing another entire degree.

LikeAVirginMary Thu 20-Dec-12 18:32:27

Definitely engineering. An engineer can become a lawyer. A lawyer cannot (without huge expense and time) become a lawyer.

Engineering will also open up many other doors.

hattymattie Fri 21-Dec-12 06:19:31

Thank you for everybody's kind responses - I've let DD1 read the thread so she can have a think. wandering your advice is very positive.

SJisontheway Fri 21-Dec-12 06:54:53

I'm an electrical engineer. Researcher / consultant. I love my job. I have travelled the world, but when it came to settling down, I had no problem getting a good job in my home city. My old uni friends all have such diverse careers - law, banking, IT. It's a fantastic general degree.

HollyMadison Fri 21-Dec-12 06:57:01

If she has the opportunity to speak to lawyers or engineers who are 10 years into their profession that might be a good thing. I'm a lawyer and only know one lawyer my level who likes his job (and he's nauseating to be around). The rest of us daydream about leaving to write a novel, work in a ski chalet or just generally try to find the soul we lost along the way. Not sure what my engineering friends are doing these days. On the plus side, fellow law students will be better dressed...

Suttyshotty Fri 21-Dec-12 07:03:11

Anything but law! I am a lawyer and whilst I love my job, it is almost impossible to find a training contract these days, law firms are full of secretary's with law degrees who cannot qualify, as they cannot find a training contract. The changes in PI law which take place in April are likely to put thousands of lawyers out of work, so there will be even fewer jobs available then. It used to be a good career option but not any more I'm afraid hmm

frenchfancy Fri 21-Dec-12 07:17:33

Not quite sure why some people think you need to go abroad to get a job as an engineer :? Though I do think that at the top end young lawyers are paid more than young engineers, and there isn't the potential to earn millions. But in general engineers can have a better work life balance. It is easier to find a job where you do your hours then go home.

In terms of France vs England, I would chose France for Engineering (Grand école bien sur) but England for Law. With a French Engineering degree she would be able to work all over the word, a French law degree is much more limiting.

Engineering is still male dominated so you do need to have a bit of character about you to get on, I used to work with some shy retiring type girls but they didn't go very far in the proffesion before dropping out. (I'm Chem Eng by the way)

I'm a solicitor and do enjoy my job very much but it's in the public sector. I recruit trainees and NQ lawyers as part of my job and it is very very competitive. And expensive to qualify.

I see a lot of people who have done the LPC/BVC who might never get the opportunity to qualify in either branch of the profession, which is very sad.

oldpeculiar Fri 21-Dec-12 11:23:45

I think with law , employments is very much about 'who you know' rather than 'what you know'

oldpeculiar Fri 21-Dec-12 11:24:20

How old is she now?

hattymattie Fri 21-Dec-12 13:47:04

She's 16 now - so University applications next October - this is why we're doing masses of research at the moment.

BeckAndCallWithBoughsOfHolly Fri 21-Dec-12 17:38:54

I would advise booking her onto an engineering taster course to see if she likes it - they run next summer and that's time enough for the ucas application.

If you google Headstart they will come up for you to browse

boomting Fri 21-Dec-12 18:42:06

She needs to think carefully about her A Level choices, and look at the websites of various universities to see what courses they offer, and what A Levels they require. Clearly sciences and maths (sometimes further maths) are necessary for engineering, but it will be easier to get onto a law degree with essay based A Levels like Eng Lit, History, Politics and MFLs.

frenchfancy Fri 21-Dec-12 19:03:41

OP is in France so I'm guesing the daughter is doing a BAC (S).

oldpeculiar Fri 21-Dec-12 19:08:25

Boomting-she has already started her A level course.

No engineering courses actually require FM because some schools don't even offer it.But it does help or at least make sure you do the Maths mechanics modules

galwaygirl Fri 21-Dec-12 19:11:00

If she is good at Maths what about Actuarial Science?
That's what I do although I first did a civil engineering degree and am married to an electronic engineer - engineers pay is crap for the job they do and the abilities they have. Unless you go down the oil side.
Actuaries are highly paid for a cushy job and there are so many areas you can work in, lots of them interesting. And we are not all weird geeks these days ;-)

hattymattie Fri 21-Dec-12 19:11:48

Yes - French - she's on Bac S. (with additional maths offered by the school for the prepa).

hattymattie Fri 21-Dec-12 19:14:05

beck I'm going to google the engineering taster courses.galway I'm going to look up Actuarial Science - that's a new one on me.

The engineers I know have much more balanced lives than the lawers I know. They do get paid less, but I think they tend to find it very interesting.

One option would be to do engineering with a view to becoming a patent attorney as this it the overlap between law and engineering.

BikeRunSki Fri 21-Dec-12 19:29:29

I am a female civil engineer. Got here through a rather circuitous route, but have always either worked for a consultancy (12 years) or the public body I do now (8 years). I have never felt discriminated against at all for being female, and have always enjoyed my work. I'm never going to be rich though... I used to think that I'd always have a job though, but DH (same field) was made redundant last year, as have many of our friends recently.

Engineering and Law are very different disciplines, surely she should choose the one she feels she has most aptitude for, regardless of her father's profession (fwiw my dad was a solicitor!).

galwaygirl Fri 21-Dec-12 20:02:06

www.actuaries.org.uk is a good place for information.

If she did the undergraduate degree she could get exemptions from up to all of the CT series of exams depending on how well she did. That would leave her with 4 exams and 3 courses to do while working although unlike some professions which pay peanuts while you're studying she would be on high 20s which would increase in large increments as she passes each exam/course. You get time off to study - roughly a day a week. Newly qualified she'd be on mid to high 50s plus bonus in an insurance company or a lot more in consulting.
You can work in pretty much any country in the world with the only barrier being language.

I know it's not all about money but I see how pissed off my husband gets at how much more I get paid and I don't work any harder.
Plus there are loads of interesting areas to get involved in.

Pantomimedam Fri 21-Dec-12 20:04:57

An engineering taster course sounds like an excellent idea. If either direction appeals, I'd nudge her towards engineering - there are so many options with that path and, as you say, there are probably enough lawyers in the world! I know lots of lawyers who are unhappy with their profession.

herethereandeverywhere Fri 21-Dec-12 20:29:18

I'm a solicitor. It's VVVHARD work, for a LONG time. I work in the City where it's perfectly normal (and, of course expected) to work through the night, round the clock, to get the deal done. 12 hour days are a bare minimum, every day. Money is good, but not nearly as good as banking/finance careers which a maths-biased student (with an interest in accounting and finance qualifications) would make (if you want to become a millionaire it will take half a lifetime and joining one of a very few top firms to do this with law, there are dozens of routes with investment finance). If "she'd make a great lawyer" means she's good at arguing (!) then that's more litigation. Even harder to make it and make it big as a litigator (whether barrister or solicitor). The undergrad degree also bears little resemblance to practising law. It's hours and hours and hours of reading and reasoning and pontificating minutiae whereas practising is more practical and much more about volume of work you have to contend with! Is she a "straight A student"? If she's not I wouldn't bother with the dream of a legal career. Traineeships and pupilages and becoming fewer and competition more intense. We look for straight As (or equiv.) or as near to that as dammit and at least a 2:1 from a redbrick or better.

As for "jobs in law are about who you know not what you know", I'd say not so, unless you're mediocre and a kindly uncle in a tiny practice takes pity. I'm northern working class 1st generation Uni and applied through the standard route (vacation placement at top 20 firms) and got my training contract through that. All decent law forms have these schemes and would only recruit the very best candidates. (it costs about £200-£250k for a City firm to take a trainee from day one to qualification, including their postgrad study fees) so it's not in the firms interests to just pick kids of clients and partners who are rubbish and can't hack the job!

All that said, I hate my job, just resigned to have a career change - not sure what, although corporate law with its horrendous hours was always going to do that to me.

I have lots of lovely engineering friends but know nothing of the subject, other than the pay appears to be quite poor for the level of expertise. That said, most are in "dream" jobs, working for Maclaren F1 and the like and they seem happy, happier than I was in my job!

blueshoes Fri 21-Dec-12 20:49:33

I used to practice in a City law firm but now working as an in-house lawyer (for the better hours/work life balance) still in a City law firm.

At OP's dd's age, it was a toss up between engineering and law too for me. I am glad I chose law. The pay is good and work (to me) is interesting and cutting edge. The best thing is working with my brilliant colleagues. I think they make better conversationalists than engineers.

I note the difficulty in getting training contracts these days. I would not encourage my dcs to do law unless they could get into at least a RG uni.

Pantomimedam Fri 21-Dec-12 21:51:04

Oi, I used to work with engineers, they are fine conversationalists. And there are plenty of tedious lawyers!

Ask your dd what she would rather do with her life - make amazing stuff like this or make a few fat cats even fatter? (OK, I know not all law is city stuff, but still, engineering is about problem-solving, law is largely about making money out of problems.

Pantomimedam Fri 21-Dec-12 21:51:52


That's the missing bracket from the last sentence...

I know lots if amusing engineers and couldn't have married a man who wasn't an engineer, it was essential for me.

herethereandeverywhere Fri 21-Dec-12 22:39:58

Lawyers don't just make money out of problems! They earn good money solving them, as do engineers - engineering is no more altruistic than law. They are paid well because it's bloody hard and you have to be brilliant and dedicated to do it. Whenever a lawyer does a deal, of the long list of professionals working on it, the lawyers will work the longest hours, for the smallest proportion of the total fees charged by professionals (Corporate financiers/merchant banks always first then accountancy firms second).

Plenty of fat cats will have engineering businesses in their portfolio, making them fatter....

I don't love my job or my profession but let's try to stick to the facts!

Engineers often do work on products that are good for society such as medical devices, robots to clear landlines, safety systems on cars. Obviously this doesn't apply to all engineers, but generally they work towards something tangible which they can see the applications and benefits of.

My heart bleeds for the lawyers working the longest hours for the least fees.

Engineering probably has flatter hierarchies within it than working within practice as a lawyer. With most professional services there is a pyramid structure with the very few people at the top earning shedloads and creaming profit from the people below them who are all scrabbling to get to the top, so working their arses off to compete with each other for those few spaces. While there are hierarchies in engineering this working like crazy to be one of the survivors doesn't seem to happen.

walkingintheair Fri 21-Dec-12 23:06:14

If she enjoys Physics and Maths, she should definitely do engineering as a degree. Then afterwards she can decide what she wants to do. Basically doing engineering will keep all her options open (as others have mentioned) whereas doing law means she is closing off the technical career path. Also I think an engineering degree would be a lot more interesting.

Afterwards she would have to decide based on interest, work-life balance, salary etc. I think the work-life balance as an engineer is very good. OH did an engineering degree, and is now a software engineer. He works from home 9-5pm. Salary at 27 years old is £45k with a good bonus. Other friends who did engineering degrees are still in engineering jobs with similar work-life balances and all very much like what they do (not sure on salaries, they aren't earning big bucks but have a decent wage). A couple of engineer friends work abroad.

I don't know much about law except for patent law. If she likes both engineering and law, this could be a good option as she will be using her technical knowledge on a daily basis and still be keeping up to date with all the latest inventions. Basically, after doing the engineering degree, she would apply to patent law firms for trainee positions. It then takes 4-5 years to train and pass all the exams. The salaries on qualification are very good, and it is still a 9-5 job. Usually firms look for trainees with a 2.1 or 1st from a red brick or Oxbridge. There are lots of trainee positions in electronics, and quite a lot in mechanical.

Pantomimedam Fri 21-Dec-12 23:18:28

here, I was reacting to blue's post: 'The best thing is working with my brilliant colleagues. I think they make better conversationalists than engineers.' From someone in the city, ffs.

I am neither a lawyer nor an engineer but I suspect if you tot it all up, engineers contribute a hell of a lot more to society.

Zhx3 Fri 21-Dec-12 23:30:19

OP, I know you're not in the UK, but when I was 17 I attended a week-long course at Birmingham U called "Insight into Engineering" - aimed specifically at girls thinking of studying Engineering at university. They ran them at several universities across the UK. I think they're still run, but can't find a coordinated website.

I studied Chemical Engineering (about 1 in 7 were women on my course), then went onto a graduate training scheme with a blue chip corporation. Have dabbled in manufacturing and engineering in my various roles but am currently in a non-related role. Of my classmates, I reckon about half ended up in the city as consultants, bankers and accountants. One went into patent law. Probably about a third went into industry. My experience is that the women who study engineering tend to stay closer to engineering as a profession.

Some useful sources of information might be WISE and The Year in Industry (sorry can't link), which places students for 1 year with industrial companies between A-levels and university.

Zhx3 Fri 21-Dec-12 23:38:18

I have to say, I did get a huge sense of satisfaction from designing, installing and commissioning a big shiny piece of kit, and there are a few items in the shops which I can look at and say "that's made on my machine!". Dh finds me very tedious grin.

I don't think there will be much difference between engineering and law here, but I did get a shock after becoming a mother, because it's hard to work part-time when your work is mainly project-based. I felt as if I was always playing catch-up. A few of my fabulously talented female engineer friends have "downgraded" their roles and responsibilities at work in order to try and manage work and family.

monsterchild Fri 21-Dec-12 23:49:01

For what it's worth, I think both engineers and lawyers contribute a lot to society. And they can both sell their souls for money. Most people see lawyers as a problem due to the adversarial nature of law, but engineers do plenty of harm too.

That being said, the snide comments of some posts does show that your DD will likely need a thick skin to be a lawyer. But there's buckets of students in law school right now, and not that many jobs. In 4 years this bulge will perhaps have gotten through, but law isn't the sure thing it was in the 80s.

I'm not sure if the engineering schools are having similar probems for prospective graduates, but that's what I would look into, and all the types of work she could do with engineering or law.

Good luck to her! It's an exciting time!

On DH's degree he was required to do a work placement in the first summer. This set him up with a pattern of doing a work placement every summer and they seemed to be easy enough to find. By the end of his degree he had a fairly clear idea of what it is like to work in engineering, had been sponsored for a bit by one company, had contacts and references and was offered a job by the one that sponsored him. So I think you can come out of an engineering degree with a very god sense of whether to persue a career in it or not.

Good, not god.

blueshoes Sat 22-Dec-12 11:12:57

Just to correct some popular misconceptions about the law ...

Herethere is absolutely right. Lawyers are problem solvers par excellence. They solve other people's problems. They put transactions together. It is not all litigation. In fact, in the City, it is only 20-30% litigation. Most of it is transactional work, like M&A, Finance, Intellectual Property, Employment, Antitrust. And yes, if money were the sole object (which I am sure it is not), lawyers earn very little for the hours they put in compared to investment bankers, hedge fund managers and top entrepreneurs.

When I made the comment about lawyers being better conversationalists, it was slightly tongue-in-cheek. Words are a lawyers' trade, and lawyers have a witty and nuanced way with words that IMO other professions do not. I suppose if I spoke a lawyer at the schoolgate, they could be as boring as anyone else. But when talking to a lawyer in a professional context, well, it is an instant subtle connection. Perhaps I am only referring to City lawyers or to the City in general.

I don't agree about engineers necessarily contributing a lot more to society. Lawyers put things together too and fix things up. If no one thought lawyers contributed anything but were just sucking the life out of society, then one would have thought they'd be found out by now and no one will continue to pay lawyers the big bucks. When companies are on their knees, they go to their lawyers (general counsel, external) and practically bet the ranch on their lawyers getting them out of their mess, whether it is a debt restructuring, sale, regulatory problem, massive litigation or arbitration. It is great fun with lots of drama and real life issues ... just not the sort you talk about at the schoolgate.

Maybe it just boils down to whether the OP's dd prefers working with words or with (I dunno) sums/drawings ...

Anifrangapani Sat 22-Dec-12 11:21:08

In my sector we could not function without lawyers or engineers. Both are very well paid but both put in really long hours and work to very tight deadlines. I would advise go with her heart. You spend a lot of time at work and it seems a lot longer if you don't enjoy it.

Pantomimedam Sat 22-Dec-12 11:23:35

blueshoes, lawyers get paid by the hour so they have a powerful incentive to drag stuff out for as long as they can get away with. Hardly conducive to problem solving. It's a pretty fundamental flaw in the whole legal process in this country, tbh.

'Snide' remarks - what, like claiming lawyers are better conversationalists than everyone else? hmm

I've read some incredibly badly written documents drafted by lawyers in my time - just being a lawyer doesn't make someone good at communication. Or grammar or spelling, it would appear.

There are clever, amusing lawyers who do contribute to society and I like to think my friends fall into that camp. But there are clever amusing people in every occupation.

blueshoes Sat 22-Dec-12 11:37:37

Panto, I don't know about high street lawyers. Maybe you are right. But in the large commercial law firms, lawyers' clients (some are engineers?) are every bit as sharp, if not sharper commercially, than lawyers.

In the City, hourly billing is under enormous pressure. Of course clients prefer to cap fees, but the nature of the work, like for litigation, makes it difficult to estimate the amount of time. For transactional work, lawyers have to give a fee estimate which will be difficult to depart from. They have to discount a lot of their hourly bills. Many fee deals nowadays build in a big discount if the transaction does not go through, so lawyers take the risk of a deal cratering.

There is nothing enshrined in the law that it must be hourly billing. It is all contractual and what you agree with your lawyer.

Snide to one person is tongue-in-cheek to another, depending on your perspective and agenda. I don't have many dealings with engineers, except a little with the structural engineer for our house. Of course there will be clever and amusing engineers. I never said there weren't.

wanderingalbatross Sat 22-Dec-12 11:48:55

As an Engineer, I like to talk to other engineers because they often have a straightforward analytical concise way of talking and thinking about things that makes a lot of sense to me smile

But, I was heavily involved in patents in my last position, and found that there is a lot of overlap in the type of thinking needed for the legal side of things.

And finally, I was thinking about my uni friends who now practice law. I think that only 1 out of about 10 actually studied law. The others studied a wide range of other subjects. And a lot of my engineering co-students now work in finance! Universities often publish stats about the destination of their graduates, which might be interesting reading to give a good idea of career options.

blueshoes Sat 22-Dec-12 12:00:04

Wanderingalbatross: "As an Engineer, I like to talk to other engineers because they often have a straightforward analytical concise way of talking and thinking about things that makes a lot of sense to me"

Totally agree this also applies to lawyers which explains the overlap in thinking between lawyers and engineers you describe. The most respect I had for a client (in terms of their ability to negotiate a commercial contract across the table) was for a client who was a German engineer! He could have been a lawyer, which is high praise or not, depending on how you see it.

Neither profession boxes you into doing what you trained at university. The analytical and problem solving skills of both professional are eminently transferrable.

hattymattie Sat 22-Dec-12 12:22:04

Thank you everybody - lots of interesting ideas like patent law and actuaries. The message I think we're getting is that you needn't feel boxed in by your degree. Also good to know that both engineers and lawyers seem, on the whole, to love their jobs.

She has looked at the Headstart Training Taster courses - unfortunately most of them overlap with the end of term in the French school. It was a great idea.

I think at the moment we're looking at general engineering with possibly law training afterwards. This thread is really helpful - it's interesting to see the career paths people have followed.

FreyaKItty Wed 26-Dec-12 21:13:22

I know an engineer who also got a law qualification. He has moved into mediation conflict resolution in large engineering projects such asocial exploration. He has to travel a lot though. There are consultancy firms who specialise in this type of thing.

Xenia Thu 27-Dec-12 20:00:37

Let it not be a bun fight between lawyers and engineers. They are both good careers. I often give talks to engineers and always tell them at the start they make good audiences as they tend to be very bright. Many of them are a bit fed up that top lawyers are likely to earn £500k to £1m+ a year and engineers are very very unlikely to make that - there is a massive pay difference which of course does notmatter to most people but it can rankle with some engineers I've known, in some cases so much they retrain to be lawyers.

If she does an engineering degree she can still go into law later but has to do another year of study which may or may not be funded by a law firm but it would have to be a very good degree from a very good university. If she might only be able to do engineering at an ex poly and scrape a 2/2 then law later would not be an easy move. One of my daughter's friends read engineering at Oxford or Cambridge although I cannot remember what she now does (not law).

She should have a think about what she wants to earn, what sort of life she wants to lead (there are many happy engineers and lawyers, not just miserable ones) and what subject she will enjoy studying for 3 years. Also be tactical. I think my daughter would not have got in where she got had she done law for her first degree and in part got the law job she got because of the university where she went. If a teenager is unlikely to get to a good university doing a hard to get into subject then they might be better picking a subject less popular to go to the university from which the better employers recruit.

hattymattie Fri 28-Dec-12 13:35:47

Hello Xenia - thanks for your input - from what you and a couple of other posters are saying I get the impression that it's better not to do a general law degree first. Did your daughter do law conversion then? I'm interested in people's career paths at the moment - as DD1 is reading them and I think she finds it reassuring that there are actually so many options open to her.

Xenia Sun 30-Dec-12 13:22:30

Yes, my daughters did but I think it makes no difference at all. Law is a difficult and good degree and if you can get on to that somewhere good and get a good mark then it certainly does no harm and I have worked with lots of business people who found a law degree so useful in their later business life even though they never became lawyers. I would say it's pretty neutral in career effect whether you do law at first degree or not. Also if you're sure what you want to go and get want to get on with it (as some people are) then you gain a year by reading law and save a year of fees unless a firm sponsors that conversion year.

I would always want people to put first what work they will enjoy most of all as we spend so long doing it. I adore still what I do nearly 30 years in to it and hope I do another 30 years before I die.

hattymattie Sun 30-Dec-12 18:06:04

Thanks Xeniasmile

MariscallRoad Mon 31-Dec-12 12:13:02

DS is doing now an electronic engineering degree. It needs hard maths hard physics and good programming. DS Department says if students master the first year then they do well in the next years. They can transfer to another programme if the current does not fit. The assessment is continuous which is different from other degrees where the end of year exam determines the grade. Every day is full. There are twice weekly marked labs and in addition other tests counting the progress of the year. Some Eng Schools guarantee jobs to nearly 98%, you need to discuss with the university.

Engineering is very versatile and opens up many possibilities to enter careers both related and unrelated with it. One can study eng and do Law after which is extremely useful.

notcitrus Mon 31-Dec-12 12:28:51

If she enjoys.maths, why not a maths degree, perhaps with an element of management or a language? People with maths degrees who can also write and converse well tend to be very employable.

hattymattie Mon 31-Dec-12 15:33:11

Mariscal may I ask where you son is so I can google the course.

MariscallRoad Tue 01-Jan-13 21:42:04

hattymattie, Message me, I am happy to answer.

Amerryscot Sat 19-Jan-13 19:29:28

I did an engineering degree and think it is a fantastic field to be in.

It combines a very wide range of skills - scientific, technical and "softer skills". It is an essential entry requirement for many fields and an attractive one for many others. Very few people regret graduating in engineering.

The starting salaries are relatively high, and continue to grow with experience.

Dromedary Sat 19-Jan-13 19:48:16

Law only pays well for top lawyers. Many lawyers receive very average pay, and some are genuinely low paid. Holiday and benefits tend to be quite poor.
Radical changes are going on in the legal profession - to the detriment of lawyers. Many are expected to go out of business, and many will become poorer. Competition is tough. The job is often stressful and often mundane. Unless they specialise in international type areas, they are restricted to working in the UK.

hattymattie Sun 20-Jan-13 19:30:58

Amerry did you do general engineering or a specialist field?

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 21-Jan-13 10:24:00

They are both excellent degrees, but I do think engineering opens many more doors.
I have several friends who graduated with variety of engineering degrees. What do they do now director of multinational construction engineering company, senior buyer for Marks and Spencers, 1 vice president of international bank, 3 directors of international banks and 1 film editor living in LA working with Guy Ritchie etc. Not a single one of them earns less than 6 figures and the most successful is a multimilionaire (he did elec eng and then MSc in Medical Engineering). Unsurprisingly the most succesful graduated from Imperial. So it is important to think about where you go.

hattymattie Mon 21-Jan-13 18:29:43

Wow interesting Lonecat. I'll show this to my daughter - I think she definitely is still of the impression she'll end up on a factory floor with an engineering degree.

mathanxiety Tue 22-Jan-13 20:44:28

So far, I have managed to persuade my three oldest DCs not to go near law. I consider it my life's work to make sure they do a maths or science based undergrad degree, or at worst economics, before deciding on law if that is really what they want or if that is the way to advancement in their careers.

I know three teachers who started out as lawyers, two women and one man. None of them found lawyering a good match for family life. Of the several engineers I know none have left the field or have ever considered it -- and all have managed a good lifestyle and found an acceptable home/work balance. None of them work on factory floors -- all have nice office environments. One in particular works for a firm that bends over backwards to make an attractive work environment for women, with nursery on site.

Grand Ecole a v good idea, or top UK eng schools. Don't be tempted to go to any second rate university. If she wants to go further after her bachelors degree, look at excellent MBA programmes or postgrad engineering programmes in the US. A friend from university in Dublin went on to Stanford for a postgrad degree in engineering and named his price when jobhunting time rolled around. Another went to the University of Chicago for an MBA and again, could write his own contract at recruitment time.

Yellowtip Tue 22-Jan-13 22:01:57

Law as an undergraduate degree subject at a decent university is not in any way a handicap hattie and can be an advantage with certain applications too. But she should go with her instinct at this stage, play to that and her strengths.

cumfy Fri 25-Jan-13 13:37:57

What does she love ?

Hint it is not "Engineering" or "Law".wink

Being sufficiently capable of doing pretty much anything is as much a curse as a blessing.
It's tough to decide at 16; and my view is you shouldn't if you can avoid it.
It's incredibly tricky to understand what it's all going to be about.

What about medicine, economics, applied maths, psychology etc etc for instance ?
It's almost impossible to know what a degree let alone a career is going to be like.

Do what you love. Not what you think you should do.

I did Engineering then branched out into software/ mathematical modelling.
At a flying guess I would suggest psychology just to set the cat among the pigeons.

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