My son studied law but doesn’t want to be a solicitor. Does he have other options?

Legal qualifications are useful across many areas including compliance and governance

I have a dilemma. My son has graduated in law at university (UCD) , but has now decided he doesn’t want to work in that area. Have the past four years of college education been a waste - or does he have any other options?

Your son has successfully completed his law degree and acquired a basket of skills which can be applied throughout his career journey of life in a multiplicity of occupations. Rest assured, he still has lots of options.

To take just one, there are really good career opportunities on offer through the role of Chartered Company Secretaries (CCS). These are high-ranking professionals who are trained in areas such as law, finance, accounting and governance.

Every company has to have a CCS to ensure the board and its directors comply with their statutory obligations, provide technical and practical advice on company law, corporate governance and compliance. These obligations become even more important within larger companies, quoted companies, large professional firms (law and accountancy firms) etc.


They are at the core of any large business making sure it complies with every aspect of the law. A person could end up working at boardroom level at a very young age, sometimes in their late 20s. Few, if any, other careers offer this level of responsibility and exposure so early on.

The Chartered Governance Institute (ICSA), the body that qualifies chartered secretaries worldwide, find that the majority of their members come from primarily a law, finance or business graduate background.

Law, business or finance graduates are given exemptions for their degree qualifications.

This is an ideal alternative for current students who want to finish their courses in these disciplines but may not want to continue on their field of study. Typically in Ireland, large publicly listed companies and large accountancy, law and funds firms take trainees into their company secretarial departments each year.

Once employed, graduates are supported in their studies while they work. There are two routes to qualifying: either to take the Institute exams as part of the ICSA qualifying programme or to complete the two-year part time MSc in Management and Corporate Governance run by the University of Ulster in Marino, Dublin.

Strictly speaking you don’t need to have a degree to become a company secretary. If you don’t, but have a background in what may be deemed to be a relevant business, you can study for a foundation course that can eventually lead to qualifying as a company secretary.

There’s a positive gender balance within the profession, though there are currently more female students. Forty to 50 new trainees are recruited across all levels, annually in Ireland and trainees can expect to earn from circa euro26,000 at commencement, rising to above euro140,000 for a senior company secretary in a larger organisation.

It's also a mobile qualification, The Chartered Governance Institute is a worldwide organisation, so once qualified, the chartered secretary qualification is recognised in over 60 countries worldwide. For more information, check the ICSA's website (

Do you have a career guidance query? Email: