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Confused about my choices - RG History to follow a Law career? watch

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    I apologise in advance if I ramble on too much in this post, however I was looking for a bit of advice as I am somewhat lost.

    At the moment, I am holding offers to study History at two relatively respectable universities, namely Queen Mary UoL and Royal Holloway, UoL. Both offers are conditional, however I am in a somewhat different situation than most applicants.

    Let me start off by saying that I've attended a school in a very low HE participation area. The school's main goal was to ensure that most student came out with at least 4 or 5 GCSE passes, and they had done so by occasionally "helping" the less able students with the coursework and whatnot. My time at the school wasn't easy, as I entered it knowing next to no English, and in my last year had to take care of one of my parents who suffered from depression after a family tragedy. Nonetheless, although I did not come out with stellar grades I achieved 7 Bs, 2 As (in English language & literature), 3 D*s (distinctions) in BTEC business and 3Ds in ICT.

    I've finished my A levels two years ago, and originally came out with very poor grades, holding a B in History, a C in Law and a D in Psychology. This result was a combination of being notoriously ill, constantly changing Psychology lecturers who refused to help me and general poor working ethic (I did not acquire much of that, as you can imagine, whilst at school).

    I was actually accepted to read Law at what I would call a "sub-par" institution, however I refused it as I didn't think it was worth the £9,000 - and was also scared that I might mess up as I did with my A levels. I took out the next year to work, full and part time, and externally resat two exams (in Law and History) and a piece of coursework (in History). I finished with an A in my law exam, which brought my grade up to a B and two B grades in History (1 mark off an A in each). It was at the end of that year that I had decided I wanted to pursue a career in law, however I also knew from the vast research I did that most TCs (training contracts) are not offered below ABB minimum. Furthermore, I knew that attending a better university would improve my chances.

    Finally, this year I chose to resit 3 of my Psychology examinations, and one final exam in History. The year had started off well, as I soon found a part-time job and cracked on with my studies. However, I lost the job in December/January as the store's profits plummeted. I continued searching, however did not receive any offers until April. My studies had definitely suffered somewhat by that point, as I simply lacked motivation and felt very down. I thought that I would be able to still amend this, however a couple of days before my first AS exam my granddad passed away. Although I feel little attachment to most of my family due to moving countries as a kid, I still felt a sense of emptiness and could not really shake it - I am sure it had some impact on my exam performance. I am hoping to finish this year with a C in Psychology and and A in History, so it is likely that my grades will be ABC.

    However, at this point I am not sure whether I can still make it in law. As mentioned earlier, I have searched extensively and I know that law is now extremely competitive, and even those from Russell Group/Oxbridge categories with stellar academics still struggle with training contracts. Do you think that there is still any realistic chance of me pursuing this?

    Secondly, in terms of my degree, history and law are both subjects I greatly enjoy. I have no doubts that whichever I chose I could do really well in them. My worry with History is its' lack of applicability (there isn't really any knowledge that can be applied to the modern world, aside from transferable skills) and the uncertain future employment. I've read in some reports that Law and Business degrees are held in high esteem across various industries. Would I be correct in presuming that pursuing Law at a lower-middle ranked institution (such as City University, Westminster or Greenwich) would be better than History at QMUL/RHUL? I know that City university also offers many extracurricular CV-enhancing projects, such as small business advice centre, law clinic and a free language course - this might prove to be a boost to my applications (whether in law or outside of it). I do also think of my prospects abroad, as it is possible that I might choose to live elsewhere (temporarily or permanently). A History degree would, presumably, look far worse on my CV. On the other hand I feel that, academically, the universities I hold offers from are far better, and might give me a chance to explore my interests in a rigorous, intellectual environment.

    Again, sorry if this is a giant wall of text - I tried to explain my situation as best as I could.
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    First of all, especially under the circumstances your grades are spectacular and are nothing to sneer at. I feel that from an employment perspective, a Law and Business combined degree would be more beneficial. Universities like Greenwich and Westminster are respectable London institutions and will offer you the rigour that you desire. Although Oxbridge has a superior status in the field of academia, the universities are highly overrated. Employers are more interested in what knowledge you gained from your degree and which grade you achieved, rather than which University you attended. Law and Business would enable you to enter many lucrative careers. History is still a valuable subject, but if it's employability you want, then Law should be your number one choice.
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    I definitely sympathise with your situation and given the circumstances, you have done well. I would warn you that if you get ABC or ABB, and f you are looking to do commercial law etc at a major city/Magic Circle firm, it would be quite difficult, mainly if you get ABC. These firms apply a strict AAB filter, aside from MC firm Allen & Overy which just state strong academics. The big city and MC firms always go for Oxbridge & Russell Group too, you only have to look at their events pages to see they go to the major RG unis & Oxbridge, regardless of what they say about diversity. Personally I think you should do History at an RG uni. Yes an RG degree does not guarantee a job, but if you do well in your degree and extra curricular it will count for a lot and you will be glad you chose an RG uni especially as firms prefer them. A lot of lawyers studied English or History degrees so doing History would not be a bad thing!
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    There are more firms than MC. You would have a decent chance of competing, but you would have to be more flexible in your choice of firm.
    Where you are looking at, then I dont think it makes much difference as long as you get a good degree.

    If you did a history degree, then you would have the option of doing the GDL and carrting on a legal career after. The only advice I have is do what feels right for you, what you will get good grades at and what you enjoy.
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    Hi guys, sorry for the delayed response - I've been somewhat busy with work and revision.

    Thank you all for your input, it's good to get a different perspective on this. I think Powersymphonia's post certainly voices my concern about employability, even though History has always been something of a passion of mine. I know that nowadays many employers shift to recruiting degrees that relate more to each chosen career - much like they did in the US (hence the rise of business etc degrees).

    999tigger and ORW, you're both right in that perhaps I should look outside of the top firms as the filters may put me out of the running before I could even have the chance to prove myself. If I was looking at mid-tier/niche practice firms, presumably I'd have to self-fund the GDL if I follow the History->Law route? This might be difficult, as I don't know how my financial situation will be in a couple of years, and I obviously don't want to end up without a legal job and in a law school debt.

    Overall I just have to stick to one decision I suppose, as I worry that maybe I am overthinking. I feel like even though I may enjoy History slightly more than Law, I will find it difficult to justify studying it without a clear career goal/route. Taking a Law degree would enable me to skip the GDL (thus potential debt + an extra year) and possibly gain more law-related experience that might make it easier to establish a legal career in the future. With History, my opportunities would probably be more restricted as I would not have access to the legal clinics and extracurriculars that law students do. On the other hand though, QMUL is a great university in terms of reputation and academic potential, thus probably a better environment to study for your first degree.
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    (Original post by Badun)
    Hi guys, sorry for the delayed response - I've been somewhat busy with work and revision.

    Thank you all for your input, it's good to get a different perspective on this. I think Powersymphonia's post certainly voices my concern about employability, even though History has always been something of a passion of mine. I know that nowadays many employers shift to recruiting degrees that relate more to each chosen career - much like they did in the US (hence the rise of business etc degrees).

    999tigger and ORW, you're both right in that perhaps I should look outside of the top firms as the filters may put me out of the running before I could even have the chance to prove myself. If I was looking at mid-tier/niche practice firms, presumably I'd have to self-fund the GDL if I follow the History->Law route? This might be difficult, as I don't know how my financial situation will be in a couple of years, and I obviously don't want to end up without a legal job and in a law school debt.

    Overall I just have to stick to one decision I suppose, as I worry that maybe I am overthinking. I feel like even though I may enjoy History slightly more than Law, I will find it difficult to justify studying it without a clear career goal/route. Taking a Law degree would enable me to skip the GDL (thus potential debt + an extra year) and possibly gain more law-related experience that might make it easier to establish a legal career in the future. With History, my opportunities would probably be more restricted as I would not have access to the legal clinics and extracurriculars that law students do. On the other hand though, QMUL is a great university in terms of reputation and academic potential, thus probably a better environment to study for your first degree.
    There are however Linkedin profiles of trainees with ABB at top city firms. My friend got ABB and got a vac scheme at a good city firm. Yes QMUL is very good for Law and Medicine, but not as much for everything else. You can still take part in law society events even as a non law student. At Manchester, my soon to be uni for Law, a lot of the law society there is populated with non-law students. You want to try and bag a TC before the LPC as it is a fools game to self fund the LPC these days so best to persist and stick out until you get one before doing the LPC so you do not have to foot the bill. Thats what another friend of mine did and eventually got a TC at a solid regional firm after being a paralegal for 2 years. Lots of trainees are not law graduates and firms do not hold this against you in the slightest, so it is best to do what you are most passionate about.
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    (Original post by Badun)
    Would I be correct in presuming that pursuing Law at a lower-middle ranked institution (such as City University, Westminster or Greenwich) would be better than History at QMUL/RHUL? .
    Quite the opposite. You'd have a stronger, traditional law profile with History from a RG followed by GDL etc, than Law from a lower league institution.
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    (Original post by Badun)
    Hi guys, sorry for the delayed response - I've been somewhat busy with work and revision.

    Thank you all for your input, it's good to get a different perspective on this. I think Powersymphonia's post certainly voices my concern about employability, even though History has always been something of a passion of mine. I know that nowadays many employers shift to recruiting degrees that relate more to each chosen career - much like they did in the US (hence the rise of business etc degrees).

    999tigger and ORW, you're both right in that perhaps I should look outside of the top firms as the filters may put me out of the running before I could even have the chance to prove myself. If I was looking at mid-tier/niche practice firms, presumably I'd have to self-fund the GDL if I follow the History->Law route? This might be difficult, as I don't know how my financial situation will be in a couple of years, and I obviously don't want to end up without a legal job and in a law school debt.

    Overall I just have to stick to one decision I suppose, as I worry that maybe I am overthinking. I feel like even though I may enjoy History slightly more than Law, I will find it difficult to justify studying it without a clear career goal/route. Taking a Law degree would enable me to skip the GDL (thus potential debt + an extra year) and possibly gain more law-related experience that might make it easier to establish a legal career in the future. With History, my opportunities would probably be more restricted as I would not have access to the legal clinics and extracurriculars that law students do. On the other hand though, QMUL is a great university in terms of reputation and academic potential, thus probably a better environment to study for your first degree.
    Top firms are some of the most progressive and accepting places you could look at, do not by any means rule them out. Most MC firms do not have minimum a level or ucas point requirements anymore and are pushing to be more open to people from broader backgrounds. Case in point, when I did a placement at Clifford Chance I came across grads who had subpar A-levels, not fantastic universities (Westminster, Greenwich) but they had strong firsts, great personalities and intellect, great extra curricular profiles etc.. It can be done.


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    BBB at a level is fine for a career in law provided you do well at interview sell yourself on your application form and structure it properly. Most have scrapped a level requirements/ucas points including Clifford chance freshfields slaughter and may in addition to prestigious outfits like mcfarlanes and addleshaw Goddard which require BBB only
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    (Original post by ORW)
    I definitely sympathise with your situation and given the circumstances, you have done well. I would warn you that if you get ABC or ABB, and f you are looking to do commercial law etc at a major city/Magic Circle firm, it would be quite difficult, mainly if you get ABC. These firms apply a strict AAB filter, aside from MC firm Allen & Overy which just state strong academics. The big city and MC firms always go for Oxbridge & Russell Group too, you only have to look at their events pages to see they go to the major RG unis & Oxbridge, regardless of what they say about diversity. Personally I think you should do History at an RG uni. Yes an RG degree does not guarantee a job, but if you do well in your degree and extra curricular it will count for a lot and you will be glad you chose an RG uni especially as firms prefer them. A lot of lawyers studied English or History degrees so doing History would not be a bad thing!
    Totally wrong. Allen and overy is the only one that stipulates academic requirements. The other magic circle members bar Linklaters don't bother
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    (Original post by neal95)
    Totally wrong. Allen and overy is the only one that stipulates academic requirements. The other magic circle members bar Linklaters don't bother
    Unless it is now outdated I think you'll find they do

    http://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/law...ction-criteria

    also I very much doubt MC and SC firms will look at BBC and lower very well...
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    (Original post by ORW)
    Unless it is now outdated I think you'll find they do

    http://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/law...ction-criteria

    also I very much doubt MC and SC firms will look at BBC and lower very well...
    mate, these are the facts, slaughter and may, Clifford chance and freshfields do not have any requirements. your choice whether you believe it or not, its on their websites. the facts are that the degree results are looked upon much more, and what you do in the interview and at uni rather than a set of a level results. of course they will have importance, but they don't want a AAA student who has hardly any knowledge about the profession or what the work entails, or who thinks they are entitled to work in a firm by virtue of their academics. these things matter more, and from speaking to many people in the profession, your a levels pretty much have zero baring on your ability to do the job.
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    (Original post by ORW)
    Unless it is now outdated I think you'll find they do

    http://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/law...ction-criteria

    also I very much doubt MC and SC firms will look at BBC and lower very well...
    They do. I personally have spoken with the head of grad recruitment at CC, and regularly keep in touch.. A-level grades most certainly are not the most important aspect of the application.

    Please don't spread misinformation.

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    (Original post by Princepieman)
    Top firms are some of the most progressive and accepting places you could look at, do not by any means rule them out. Most MC firms do not have minimum a level or ucas point requirements anymore and are pushing to be more open to people from broader backgrounds. Case in point, when I did a placement at Clifford Chance I came across grads who had subpar A-levels, not fantastic universities (Westminster, Greenwich) but they had strong firsts, great personalities and intellect, great extra curricular profiles etc.. It can be done.

    I have heard of some of the 'blind CV applications' etc that were introduced recently, however I thought it was more of a PR trick rather than an actual move to include people from other backgrounds. On the other hand, the recent list published by the "chambersstudent" website has shown that there is a much wider variety of university in the firms.

    Obviously I'm assuming that A-levels would still be an obstacle and I'd have to make up for that by having a stronger application in other areas (as you mentioned, extra curriculars and good university grades). Do you think that going to a better university (e.g. QMUL as I've mentioned above) to study History would be a wiser choice than going for a less-known university such as City or Westminster to study Law? I'd likely enjoy studying either subject, however I worry about cost (self-funding the GDL if I cannot get a TC at a good firm) and opportunities for extracurricular activity (law courses usually offer more opportunity to get involved, such as business advice centres, law clinics and additional projects).
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    (Original post by Badun)
    I have heard of some of the 'blind CV applications' etc that were introduced recently, however I thought it was more of a PR trick rather than an actual move to include people from other backgrounds. On the other hand, the recent list published by the "chambersstudent" website has shown that there is a much wider variety of university in the firms.

    Obviously I'm assuming that A-levels would still be an obstacle and I'd have to make up for that by having a stronger application in other areas (as you mentioned, extra curriculars and good university grades). Do you think that going to a better university (e.g. QMUL as I've mentioned above) to study History would be a wiser choice than going for a less-known university such as City or Westminster to study Law? I'd likely enjoy studying either subject, however I worry about cost (self-funding the GDL if I cannot get a TC at a good firm) and opportunities for extracurricular activity (law courses usually offer more opportunity to get involved, such as business advice centres, law clinics and additional projects).
    Yes.

    You can get involved in those regardless of whether you're doing law or not.
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    Law firms are a little bit more open-minded nowadays, as has been mentioned. In theory, you could get into a Magic Circle firm with a very high first from City. The trouble with this is your first would truly need to be exceptional to be considered so impressive as to counteract the fact it's from City.

    On the flip side, history degrees do indeed have value and worth and both QMUL and RHUL are decent places at which to study. But they're not so stellar and well-regarded to carry much more sway than a bare first from City. Certainly, gaining a first in history will be easier! And it will tick a vital box when you come to apply to firms ... but being, perhaps overly, analytical I don't think it is much more impressive than a first in law from City. It's a very hard decision to make and I think you're going to have to go with your preference, perhaps accounting for the practical EC opportunities City provides.
 
 
 
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