Bioethics Blogs

Making the Jump to a Medico-Legal Career

Guest Post by Daniel Sokol

On a number of occasions, I have been asked by early career ethicists about the move from ethics to law, or the wisdom of seeking a legal qualification to supplement their ethical knowledge. In the UK, this can be achieved remarkably quickly. This blog post is an answer to those questions, based only on my own experiences.

In 2008, I was a lecturer in medical ethics and law at St George’s, University of London. I had no legal training, and felt uncomfortable teaching law to medical students. Some of the graduate students were former lawyers and it must have been obvious to them that the limits of my legal knowledge extended no further than the PowerPoint slide.

That year, an old school friend, a solicitor, encouraged me to become a lawyer. “I can imagine calling you ‘My learned friend‘ in court”, he said. And so the seed was planted, and with each soul-sapping marking session, and each article published and quite unread, the seed grew until, in 2009, I resigned from my lectureship to study on the law conversion course, now called the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

Plan B was a return to academia, so I arranged an honorary position at Imperial College to maintain my links with the academic world. “If the law is not for me”, I thought, “at least I’ll have a legal qualification under my belt”. There can be little harm, and much benefit, in a medical ethicist holding dual qualifications in ethics and law.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.