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Careers for law graduates in retail and consumer goods

Jaymes Carr

Careers Commentator

What do retail sector employees do?

Retailing describes the practise of earning a profit by selling goods and services to consumers. While you may think of customer-facing roles when you hear the phrase ‘retail sector’, there’s an enormous industry of people who work behind the scenes to ensure that retailers remain competitive, and consumer needs are both anticipated and met.

Where do they work?

Retail employees work everywhere there are retail stores, and Australia has many thousands of them. However, that’s only half the story – between ten and thirty per cent of Australian retail transactions are conducted online. These stores often eschew customer-facing roles, instead employing warehouse stockists, administrative staff, and various other participants in a supply chain that is, to the consumer, mostly invisible.

Larger retailers, such as department stores and franchise companies, often have a large back-office division that focuses on administrative, financial, and other responsibilities. This is where you’ll find marketers, business strategists, senior managerial staff, consumer analysts and more. Many of these jobs share a common goal: understanding what consumers want and striving to deliver it. For example, Myer, which is the largest department store in Australia, has stores in around 60 locations and its headquarters in Melbourne.

How can I take advantage of my law degree?

For law graduates, there are two main ways to enter the retail sector. First, they may use their analytical skills and creativity to pursue retail careers that don’t draw directly on their legal expertise. While some such careers may require special training – marketers, for example, will generally be expected to have received a marketing qualification – other advisory, administrative and managerial roles are more degree agnostic.

Second, many positions within the retail sector specifically call upon the services of legal practitioners. These lawyers can expect to find themselves focusing on issues such as contract negotiation, brand protection, capital raising schemes, and the legal issues that arise in relation to advertising and marketing campaigns or trade promotions. While some of these lawyers will work in-house for larger retailers, others may be hired from a firm (or division within a firm) that specialises in matters of retail law.

What is the average salary?

The average graduate entry-level salary package in this sector is $74,000 and grads are expected to work an average of 48 hours per week, making this a fairly hard-working group dollar for dollar.