Law Student - will mitigating circumstances hinder training contract chances?

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AshleaJade
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Hi, so I’m just heading into my second year of my degree but I’ve had some time out as I had severe depression which also affected my A-Levels. What I’m wondering is when training contracts ask about mitigating circumstances does it actually hinder your applications by disclosing this? I’m in a much better place and have been since the start of the year hence my return to university, but if I include this in my application would they consider me to be weak and unable to manage the pressure? Very conflicting and really unsure about this
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Johnny ~
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Almost certainly no if you've disclosed them and they're no longer a problem. Have you gotten any university grades? Do they show an improvement (comparatively) over your A-levels?
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Crazy Jamie
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I can only comment on this from the pupillage standpoint, but broadly when it comes to mitigating circumstances there are two things that matter. The first is that the circumstances are actually credible and could realistically have had the effect on the applicant's grades. The second is that since the resolution of the mitigating circumstances, there has been an increase in the applicant's level of academic attainment.

What the mitigating circumstances actually are doesn't really matter providing they tick the boxes for that first point. I certainly wouldn't go as far as analysing those circumstances to make judgments about the applicant's likely ability to do the job going forwards. But in any event, it would generally be very difficult to fairly and reasonably make such judgments based on the limited information that you get in an application. If it's something that is of genuine concern, for example if a medical condition persists but at a lower level, it may be reasonable to enquire as to how an applicant manages those symptoms day to day or similar, but that would normally only be possible at an interview stage. The situation may well be different for training contract applications, and there may be others who can shed more light on that. But I would be surprised if there was any realistic scope for someone assessing applications to conclude that someone is weak and unable to handle pressure based on their mitigating circumstances. That would be a highly ignorant reading of clinical depression in any event, but in the round I suspect it's one that it's an issue that the person assessing your application wouldn't apply their mind to at all.

In the round I doubt you have anything to worry about. If your A-Levels and/or first year results are a clear weakness on your application and there is a clear disparity between those and your other grades (which, going forwards, I expect you'd hope to be the case), being clear about your mitigating circumstances is how you explain that disparity. Even if there ends up being someone who judges you for it, it seems more important to me that for every other person reading your application you make it clear not only why that disparity exists, but to make it clear to them that the higher grades reflect your true ability level. That's really the whole point, and to my mind makes it worth the (in my mind relatively low) risk of the odd person here or there marking you down for it. But as I say, it may be that someone more familiar with the training contract process can shed more light on how mitigating circumstances fit into that.
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AshleaJade
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(Original post by Johnny ~)
Almost certainly no if you've disclosed them and they're no longer a problem. Have you gotten any university grades? Do they show an improvement (comparatively) over your A-levels?
Thank you so much, I'm not due to start my second year until September so at the moment I don't, my first year was an average of 2:1 with the odd 2:2 but this is simply due to luck if I'm honest because I didn't spend a great deal at university with all of this going on. But hopefully I can push for firsts now

(Original post by Crazy Jamie)
I can only comment on this from the pupillage standpoint, but broadly when it comes to mitigating circumstances there are two things that matter. The first is that the circumstances are actually credible and could realistically have had the effect on the applicant's grades. The second is that since the resolution of the mitigating circumstances, there has been an increase in the applicant's level of academic attainment.

What the mitigating circumstances actually are doesn't really matter providing they tick the boxes for that first point. I certainly wouldn't go as far as analysing those circumstances to make judgments about the applicant's likely ability to do the job going forwards. But in any event, it would generally be very difficult to fairly and reasonably make such judgments based on the limited information that you get in an application. If it's something that is of genuine concern, for example if a medical condition persists but at a lower level, it may be reasonable to enquire as to how an applicant manages those symptoms day to day or similar, but that would normally only be possible at an interview stage. The situation may well be different for training contract applications, and there may be others who can shed more light on that. But I would be surprised if there was any realistic scope for someone assessing applications to conclude that someone is weak and unable to handle pressure based on their mitigating circumstances. That would be a highly ignorant reading of clinical depression in any event, but in the round I suspect it's one that it's an issue that the person assessing your application wouldn't apply their mind to at all.

In the round I doubt you have anything to worry about. If your A-Levels and/or first year results are a clear weakness on your application and there is a clear disparity between those and your other grades (which, going forwards, I expect you'd hope to be the case), being clear about your mitigating circumstances is how you explain that disparity. Even if there ends up being someone who judges you for it, it seems more important to me that for every other person reading your application you make it clear not only why that disparity exists, but to make it clear to them that the higher grades reflect your true ability level. That's really the whole point, and to my mind makes it worth the (in my mind relatively low) risk of the odd person here or there marking you down for it. But as I say, it may be that someone more familiar with the training contract process can shed more light on how mitigating circumstances fit into that.
Wow thank you this was actually so helpful! Hopefully second and third year all go to plan I know a lot of places are open with mental health and disability but sometimes it can be quite daunting when it comes across as negative, especially in a field as competitive as law
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Crazy Jamie
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(Original post by AshleaJade)
Wow thank you this was actually so helpful! Hopefully second and third year all go to plan I know a lot of places are open with mental health and disability but sometimes it can be quite daunting when it comes across as negative, especially in a field as competitive as law
The legal industry has historically pretty poor at paying any attention to the mental health of those who work in it. In recent years there are some solid signs that that is beginning to change, so with any luck that progress will continue and things will be much improved again by the time you come to make your applications. Best of luck with the rest of your course.
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