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Impact of university choice

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    Hi there,

    After browsing this forum quite a bit, I have to say I feel rather disheartened. I know that competition for TCs is very fierce at MC/SCs/City firms but sometimes I get the impression that not attending a Russel Group university (or top 1994) leaves you zero chance of securing such training contracts.

    I am currently studying law in a middle-ranking university with AAB as entry requirements. Don't get me wrong, the quality of teaching etc is really good and I'm happy where I am. However, I can't help but feel I 'could have done better' as I obtained A*A*A at A levels. For financial and familial reasons I was not able to study away for home...

    Long story short, I am predicted a first (although I may end up with a high 2:1 such as 69ish). I realise that academic performance is only one of various factors, but in the light of the trainee profiles I see on City law firm's recruitment brochures (ie Oxbridge, LSE students etc), I am wondering whether my application could even stand any chance...?

    Thanks in advance for anyone's help
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    (Original post by Aberdeeny)
    Hi there,

    After browsing this forum quite a bit, I have to say I feel rather disheartened. I know that competition for TCs is very fierce at MC/SCs/City firms but sometimes I get the impression that not attending a Russel Group university (or top 1994) leaves you zero chance of securing such training contracts.

    I am currently studying law in a middle-ranking university with AAB as entry requirements. Don't get me wrong, the quality of teaching etc is really good and I'm happy where I am. However, I can't help but feel I 'could have done better' as I obtained A*A*A at A levels. For financial and familial reasons I was not able to study away for home...

    Long story short, I am predicted a first. I realise that academic performance is only one of various factors, but in the light of the trainee profiles I see on City law firm's recruitment brochures (ie Oxbridge, LSE students etc), I am wondering whether my application could even stand any chance...?

    Thanks in advance for anyone's help
    If you're the kind of person who's capable of getting 3xA* at level, most firms will sit up and take notice of you. University can play a role (and I suspect some firms put greater store in it than others), but it certainly isn't the be all and end all. As long as you continue to demonstrate you're academically capable (and jump the usual hoops of extra curricular activies and work experience) you should be fine.
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    There is a difference between "MC" and "City" firms. I think you have fallen into the trap of assuming that all firms are like MC firms. The MC firms are the largest and the most competitive, but at the end of the day they are only five firms - there are many other very large international firms in the city and hundreds of other firms.

    You could potentially get a TC at an MC firm, but admittedly you are at a disadavantage. There is no reason why you can't get a TC at a city firm, subject to the usual assumptions (a strong 2:1 or first, good extra-curriculars, strong application form, good interview technique, make a sufficient number of applications).
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    There is a difference between "MC" and "City" firms. I think you have fallen into the trap of assuming that all firms are like MC firms. The MC firms are the largest and the most competitive, but at the end of the day they are only five firms - there are many other very large international firms in the city and hundreds of other firms.

    You could potentially get a TC at an MC firm, but admittedly you are at a disadavantage. There is no reason why you can't get a TC at a city firm, subject to the usual assumptions (a strong 2:1 or first, good extra-curriculars, strong application form, good interview technique, make a sufficient number of applications).
    Do we really think MC firms are so different? I know plenty of people who got MC TCs but did not get offers from other 'city' firms. Indeed, I also know people who turned down MC firms to train at SC/smaller city firms for various reasons.
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    (Original post by Aberdeeny)
    Hi there,

    After browsing this forum quite a bit, I have to say I feel rather disheartened. I know that competition for TCs is very fierce at MC/SCs/City firms but sometimes I get the impression that not attending a Russel Group university (or top 1994) leaves you zero chance of securing such training contracts.

    I am currently studying law in a middle-ranking university with AAB as entry requirements. Don't get me wrong, the quality of teaching etc is really good and I'm happy where I am. However, I can't help but feel I 'could have done better' as I obtained A*A*A at A levels. For financial and familial reasons I was not able to study away for home...

    Long story short, I am predicted a first (although I may end up with a high 2:1 such as 69ish). I realise that academic performance is only one of various factors, but in the light of the trainee profiles I see on City law firm's recruitment brochures (ie Oxbridge, LSE students etc), I am wondering whether my application could even stand any chance...?

    Thanks in advance for anyone's help
    Remember part of this could be because they find getting rid of anyone with less than AAA (though most advertise AAB/ABB as the minimum) as an easy way to cut many, many applications. This would be most of your coursemates. Whereas most of your A level peers (ie. those with similar marks to you who went on to do law) will be at Oxbridge/LSE/UCL/Durham etc.

    Two MC firms ( here: http://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/Law/WebExtras/83 and here: http://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/Law/WebExtras/255 ) say that your university isn't the be all and end all, though for Linklaters Oxbridge is 'not denied' to be an advantage.

    It sounds like you have good reasons for not going to one of the universities the majority of their recruits come from. If you could win a scholarship and like the thought of further academic study then there's always the possibility of doing an LLM at at a top uni, or the BCL for Oxford, which would get the name of one of those universities on your CV.
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    (Original post by LexiswasmyNexis)
    Do we really think MC firms are so different? I know plenty of people who got MC TCs but did not get offers from other 'city' firms. Indeed, I also know people who turned down MC firms to train at SC/smaller city firms for various reasons.
    Yeah. I also disagree with JP on that. A lot of other City firms get just as many applications as MC firms and the standard is basically the same. I hardly think it's much more difficult to get into Clifford Chance than a non-MC like Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith, Ashurst... I got straight rejections from those 3 but got interviews at 3 of the MC. I know people who got rejected from my non-MC City firm but ended up getting into Freshfields. Some smaller non-MC firms like Macfarlanes or small US firms are harder to get into than MC as they take on so few people.

    Anyway, OP,what I want to get across is that with such good A levels and a first you should have a chance wherever you want to apply, so IMO there is no need to self-select yourself out of the top firms. There isn't really such a difference between MC and the rest. You may well have to do a higher number of applications than someone from Oxbridge, but I can't see why you wouldn't be getting interviews as long as the rest of your app is up to the same standard as your academics.

    I'm assuming your uni is somewhere reasonably solid if mid-ranking and AAB - somewhere like Reading? I think there's a big difference between Reading (for example) which does have a fair reputation and some unknown ex-poly scraping the bottom of the league tables.

    Best of luck!
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    (Original post by LexiswasmyNexis)
    Do we really think MC firms are so different? I know plenty of people who got MC TCs but did not get offers from other 'city' firms. Indeed, I also know people who turned down MC firms to train at SC/smaller city firms for various reasons.
    (Original post by hmaus)
    Yeah. I also disagree with JP on that. A lot of other City firms get just as many applications as MC firms and the standard is basically the same. I hardly think it's much more difficult to get into Clifford Chance than a non-MC like Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith, Ashurst... I got straight rejections from those 3 but got interviews at 3 of the MC. I know people who got rejected from my non-MC City firm but ended up getting into Freshfields. Some smaller non-MC firms like Macfarlanes or small US firms are harder to get into than MC as they take on so few people.
    The point I was trying to make is slightly different. I agree firms like Hog Love/Herbert Smith are as competitive as the MC. Ashurst is probably a bit less competitive, and below that you have practices like BLP/Eversheds/DLA Piper which are noticeably less competitive. These are all "MC style" firms doing big-ticket commercial work for multinationals, but most firms aren't like that.

    We also need to remember that there are hundreds of smaller firms, ranging from litigation boutiques, to fraud practices (e.g. Peters & Peters), to firms that focus on private client work (e.g. Mishcon de Reya), to firms that focus on offshore and investment funds work (e.g. Orrick). These are all substantially less competitive than the MC but still work on fairly big-ticket stuff.

    Beyond that, there are hundreds of firms doing commercial work for small and medium-sized businesses, or perhaps lower-value work for large multinationals. For example, RBS instruct Herbert Smith on a lot of their biggest stuff but wouldn't use Herbert Smith - or any other firm where partners cost over £600 an hour - for disputes worth less than, say, £200,000.
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    Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond. This has been really useful. You are right after all, I can't know for sure without trying!

    Would you advise me to mention in application forms the reason why I had to attend my university? I would like to make clear that I had no possibility to go away from home, but at the same time I'm not sure it's a good idea because it may sound like I am "bashing" my university. After all, as hmaus has pointed out, my university does have a fair reputation - it's just not where I would have chosen to study considering my academics.

    Any suggestion would be appreciated
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    (Original post by Aberdeeny)
    Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond. This has been really useful. You are right after all, I can't know for sure without trying!

    Would you advise me to mention in application forms the reason why I had to attend my university? I would like to make clear that I had no possibility to go away from home, but at the same time I'm not sure it's a good idea because it may sound like I am "bashing" my university. After all, as hmaus has pointed out, my university does have a fair reputation - it's just not where I would have chosen to study considering my academics.

    Any suggestion would be appreciated
    No. Do not do this unless asked; you'll sound a bit chippy!
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    (Original post by Aberdeeny)
    Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond. This has been really useful. You are right after all, I can't know for sure without trying!

    Would you advise me to mention in application forms the reason why I had to attend my university? I would like to make clear that I had no possibility to go away from home, but at the same time I'm not sure it's a good idea because it may sound like I am "bashing" my university. After all, as hmaus has pointed out, my university does have a fair reputation - it's just not where I would have chosen to study considering my academics.

    Any suggestion would be appreciated
    I would not say it but it may be possible to say something which allows someone reading it to put 2 and 2 together. If you explain how caring for your disabled father gave you a particular outlook on life, a moderately bright HR person reading it will realise that the reason you didn't go away to university was your caring obligations.
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    OK, that's what I thought! Thank you for your input.

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Updated: April 21, 2012
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