Training Contract chances Watch

jack_twice
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Hi everyone,

I was wondering if you could assess my chances at securing a training contract with a top 20 law firm. I'm mostly concerned about my grades in the context of good work experience:

I have a low 2.1 in History from UCL. My average marks were 63 (First Year), 60 (Second Year), 64 (Final Year). Of all my modules, I have two 2:2s, one 1:1, with the rest being 2:1s. My overall degree mark is 62/63.

It is these marks which I presume are most likely to hold me back.

My work experience includes internships with a major company, two in strategy/management consulting, two in government/policy. These schemes were all pretty competitive and the organisations are likely to be well-known to employers. I also have some good extra-curricular experience including debating and start-ups.

I know grades are by far the most important criteria for law firms and training contracts though so I'm not sure how competitive I am. I know to rule out some firms that are obsessed with high marks (CGSH, Slaughter and May) but I have heard that some are less fussy and more focused on the overall profile of a candidate - some guidance as to which these are/along with general thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thanks everyone - and good luck with any applications you're making,
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happyinthehaze
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hi there

Please don't say 'less fussy'! The firms will almost certainly not agree with you there - they are extremely fussy about who they employ! But that aside, don't you need to get you some law experience??

Do you have any real work experience? ie paid? It might help if you are worried about your grades to get out there a bit more and become more 'well-rounded'. Lots of firms put a high premium on that. Also (controversial) why not work in some other capacity for a year? Get some real-life experience in some capacity.

Don't worry too much about not being competitive. You might be more so than you think but anyway, lots of firm will not want trainees stepping on each other to get to the top - in real life, how you are as a team player to back up your team or get them out of a hole is just as valuable
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jack_twice
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Thanks for your reply,

By 'less fussy' I meant 'place less emphasis on grades and more on overall profile' but thanks, I should have clarified that. When I talk about being 'competitive' I'm talking about my chances relative to other candidates - it's not so much a reflection of my personality.

I've been graduated for a year and do have 'real' work experience; I'm asking purely about grades because I feel that would be by far the weakest part of my profile but is the most important one for training contracts.

If anyone knows people with similar grades that ended up with training contracts, it'd be great to hear about it.

Thanks,
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GrandPessimist
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I still have a long way to go until I have to apply for TCs, but I assume that the biggest problem in the application process would be your A-levels because of the filters firms use. I suppose you have AAA if you are a UCL graduate, right?

After you're through the filter issue, all you can do is work hard to enhance your CV and then just hope. Yes, grades are very important to firms because, in the end, they want the best candidates available, but I am not sure if the criteria for selection are crystal clear yet, at least for those that are applying while they're still at university.

You need a good 2.1, at least, AAB in A-levels and the usual ECs if you're still a student. If you work in another sector and you feel you don't have what's necessary qualifications or qualities, then it's up to you to prove what you can bring to a law firm!
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LawLad13
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(Original post by jack_twice)
Hi everyone,

I was wondering if you could assess my chances at securing a training contract with a top 20 law firm. I'm mostly concerned about my grades in the context of good work experience:

I have a low 2.1 in History from UCL. My average marks were 63 (First Year), 60 (Second Year), 64 (Final Year). Of all my modules, I have two 2:2s, one 1:1, with the rest being 2:1s. My overall degree mark is 62/63.

It is these marks which I presume are most likely to hold me back.

My work experience includes internships with a major company, two in strategy/management consulting, two in government/policy. These schemes were all pretty competitive and the organisations are likely to be well-known to employers. I also have some good extra-curricular experience including debating and start-ups.

I know grades are by far the most important criteria for law firms and training contracts though so I'm not sure how competitive I am. I know to rule out some firms that are obsessed with high marks (CGSH, Slaughter and May) but I have heard that some are less fussy and more focused on the overall profile of a candidate - some guidance as to which these are/along with general thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thanks everyone - and good luck with any applications you're making,
Your grades are fine - obviously not outstanding, but consistent across the board and will be similar to many other candidates'.

For me, if I was assessing your application, I would be very interested to see what it is that is motivating you for a career in law. Coming from a non-law background without any legal work experience or exposure will be something that will be flagged up/put forward to you. For example, one might ask why, considering your previous schemes and forms of work experience, you have decided to pursue a completely different career path with no discernible experience of it.

Basically you just need to be able to convince a recruiter that you are a sound investment - i.e. the firm isn't wasting time or resources on you because, say, after starting your TC, you find out that actually you don't want to be a lawyer or the reality isn't what you expected it to be.

You certainly don't need legal work experience to be successful, but I think that not only would it show a stronger 'commitment' to being a lawyer, but also would give you a better sense of what firms are looking for in a candidate, thus aiding you in the application process.

Plus, just using my own personal experience, I'm glad that when I went to my first interview, it wasn't the first time I had ever stepped foot in a law firm's office before.




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jack_twice
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(Original post by GrandPessimist)
I still have a long way to go until I have to apply for TCs, but I assume that the biggest problem in the application process would be your A-levels because of the filters firms use. I suppose you have AAA if you are a UCL graduate, right?

After you're through the filter issue, all you can do is work hard to enhance your CV and then just hope. Yes, grades are very important to firms because, in the end, they want the best candidates available, but I am not sure if the criteria for selection are crystal clear yet, at least for those that are applying while they're still at university.

You need a good 2.1, at least, AAB in A-levels and the usual ECs if you're still a student. If you work in another sector and you feel you don't have what's necessary qualifications or qualities, then it's up to you to prove what you can bring to a law firm!
Thanks, yes my A-Levels shouldn't be a problem.

I'm mainly concerned as to which firms are most flexible about how good a 2.1 should be. There was a thread on TSR I found some time ago that detailed different top law firms and which are less grade-focused. I'm aware that you need to be a great candidate to secure a training contract but, as I'm sure some here will agree, you could potentially be a great lawyer but have mediocre uni grades. In my case I was focused on a more generalist commercial path i.e. grad schemes which usually couldn't care less if you have a 60 or a 68 provided it's 2.1 overall.
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jack_twice
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(Original post by LawLad13)
Your grades are fine - obviously not outstanding, but consistent across the board and will be similar to many other candidates'.

For me, if I was assessing your application, I would be very interested to see what it is that is motivating you for a career in law. Coming from a non-law background without any legal work experience or exposure will be something that will be flagged up/put forward to you. For example, one might ask why, considering your previous schemes and forms of work experience, you have decided to pursue a completely different career path with no discernible experience of it.

Basically you just need to be able to convince a recruiter that you are a sound investment - i.e. the firm isn't wasting time or resources on you because, say, after starting your TC, you find out that actually you don't want to be a lawyer or the reality isn't what you expected it to be.

You certainly don't need legal work experience to be successful, but I think that not only would it show a stronger 'commitment' to being a lawyer, but also would give you a better sense of what firms are looking for in a candidate, thus aiding you in the application process.

Plus, just using my own personal experience, I'm glad that when I went to my first interview, it wasn't the first time I had ever stepped foot in a law firm's office before.




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That's really useful, thank you. Before I apply for any training contracts I will seek out some law experience. I also feel that I'd be able to build a fairly compelling narrative as to why I want to do law - since I've had exposure to a deals, due diligence and the intersection of law and politics.

The intent behind this thread is just to assess how far a low 2.1 from a good university would rule out a candidate with an otherwise strong profile.
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a_t
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(Original post by jack_twice)
Hi everyone,

I was wondering if you could assess my chances at securing a training contract with a top 20 law firm. I'm mostly concerned about my grades in the context of good work experience:

I have a low 2.1 in History from UCL. My average marks were 63 (First Year), 60 (Second Year), 64 (Final Year). Of all my modules, I have two 2:2s, one 1:1, with the rest being 2:1s. My overall degree mark is 62/63.

It is these marks which I presume are most likely to hold me back.

My work experience includes internships with a major company, two in strategy/management consulting, two in government/policy. These schemes were all pretty competitive and the organisations are likely to be well-known to employers. I also have some good extra-curricular experience including debating and start-ups.

I know grades are by far the most important criteria for law firms and training contracts though so I'm not sure how competitive I am. I know to rule out some firms that are obsessed with high marks (CGSH, Slaughter and May) but I have heard that some are less fussy and more focused on the overall profile of a candidate - some guidance as to which these are/along with general thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thanks everyone - and good luck with any applications you're making,
No they aren't

There is pretty much nothing in this post, and I'm guessing your CV that demonstrates an active interest in law, you could try and tie in your work experience to have a legal angle but I doubt you'll get very far

Work on that
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jack_twice
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(Original post by a_t)
No they aren't

There is pretty much nothing in this post, and I'm guessing your CV that demonstrates an active interest in law, you could try and tie in your work experience to have a legal angle but I doubt you'll get very far

Work on that
Thanks - as I said, my post is purely to gauge the suitably of my grades; I am aware of the need of an important narrative, passion for law and relevant work experience - all of which would follow if I thought I had the basic pre-requisites to potentially be a strong candidate. I don't want to start building up a strong knowledge of corporate law, specific interests in M&A and get my vac scheme applications ready if my chances were very low of getting to the first hurdle due to my uni grades.

I would ask: if grades are not by far the most important single criteria, what is ? I say this because it seems that corporate law varies from other City jobs in this respect. Take the following situation:

Candidate A: low 2.1 (62) from LSE, strong extra-circulars, corporate work experience

Candidate B: First (72) from Exeter with academic prizes, basic extra-circulars, limited work experience

[Assume both read History]

For generic consulting/IB/grad schemes, Candidate A is often more likely to get interviews because of the greater focus on work experience, rounded personality and an (unfair) focus on university prestige. However in law I get the sense that magic circle and US firms would be more interested by Candidate B who, with evidence of stronger academic achievements, looks to have more of the competencies required to succeed as a junior City solicitor (hard work, diligence, writing ability).

Given my situation I'd love for this not be true, so people can happily correct me?
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peachmelba
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Lots of City firms have a filter on their online applications - when I was applying, this was as I recall typically "at least 340 UCAS points" and "expecting or have at least a 2.1".

The UCAS points in practice filter out a lot of applicants from less selective unis. And students at certain unis have an awareness of City law and the confidence to give it a shot. That is not the same thing as firms "prefer" people from Oxbridge, LSE or wherever.

Once you are past the filter, all the other factors come into play. Evidencing competencies, ability to answer those stupid questions, case for your interest in City law, relevant work experience etc etc.

I don't think that's very different to consulting or IB or FMCG roles. If you have got your internships through open competition rather than networking, you could probably successfully apply those same skills to law applications. As others have said, you will need to be able to answer those Why law/why City law/why this firm questions. It's worth doing that for yourself anyway - I know people with TCs in top firms who hate it.

There are a few firms which use a CV/cover letter approach. Slaughters and some of the top-end US firms like Cleary. They do prize academics and your lowish 2.1 even in History from a good Uni will probably not get past the first cut.

For other firms, your academics are nothing special but not a killer either.
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