Employability is integral to law degrees

The University of Helsinki takes employability into account in the development of education. The changing world of work and curriculum reforms at the lower levels of education pose special challenges to the Faculty of Law.

Sakari Melander, associate professor of criminal law, deems it important to develop education from the perspective of employment. As the director of degree programmes, Melander is also responsible for the practical implementation of the extensive degree programme reform at the Faculty.

"We have developed degrees by consulting the latest career monitoring studies and the reports compiled by the Association of Finnish Lawyers. We wish to consciously take into account the kind of lawyers Finland needs when students graduate – although naturally not at the expense of scholarly considerations," Melander stresses.

A law degree provides the knowledge and skills for fairly specific professions. However, it is not sensible to fully educate students in highly specialised areas of the law, but to instead provide them with a wide range of abilities that they can apply in the world of work.

"This objective can best be supported by those who have studied at the Faculty and already gained a perspective on employment."

Not just rote learning

The employment rate of law graduates is generally quite high. Career monitoring surveys on how well degrees meet the requirements of employment have found that lawyers need better information management, problem-solving and interaction skills. The Faculty has reformed its degree programmes to promote the development of such skills.

"Particular emphasis has been placed on teaching the skills needed to resolve legal problems rather than on rote learning,” Melander points out.

Particular emphasis has been placed on teaching the skills needed to resolve legal problems rather than on rote learning

Steering groups have aimed to develop degrees, for example, with the “skills radar” created in conjunction with career monitoring. The application enables the user to compare the skills needs of respondents with the competence provided by the degree.

"The same tool is useful on many levels. The steering group sets the guidelines for development whereas individual teachers can consider how the guidelines are reflected in their teaching,” says Melander, who is also a discipline coordinator.

Education development for future needs

One of the future challenges for legal education relates to the reformed curricula of Finnish comprehensive and upper secondary schools. Digitalisation may also lead to some mechanical duties associated with the legal profession disappearing in the future.

“Preparing for these changes is a challenge for legal education. We should also be able to forecast what kind of degrees are needed in the future, for example, in 2025,” Melander notes.

The Faculty and its degree programmes would like career monitoring studies to be conducted as frequently as possible to obtain long-term data.

“The Faculty’s aim is naturally to produce top-level lawyers for Finland and beyond. Career monitoring surveys provide vital information to support this aim. They allow us to consider our successes and what we could do differently.”

Sakari Melander


You may also be interested in:

The career monitoring survey begins – every response counts

Ca­reer mon­it­or­ing of uni­versit­ies

Universities use career monitoring surveys to gather information about how graduates find employment and what kinds of skills employers are looking for.

The survey is conducted by the Aarresaari career services network of Finnish universities.

The current career monitoring survey covers graduates who completed a second-cycle degree or a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or kindergarten teaching in 2012 as well as doctoral graduates of 2014.

The survey results are used in study guidance, the development of education and teaching as well as in research on the career development of university graduates.

The answers will be processed confidentially and the results reported in a way that individual respondents cannot be identified. The career monitoring data is stored anonymised in an electronic format in the Finnish Social Sciences Data Archive.

Read the results of previous career monitoring surveys        

More about the subject: Education news