kzboy7
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Hi, I’ve posted most of this before, but I thought it relevant to provide some context on what’s been happening regarding A levels for me over the past few years as I want to hear some other people’s thoughts.

So basically I started sixth form in 2018; I attended a completely new school, so had to adjust to new people & teachers, & the 3 original subjects I chose were Maths, Eng Lit & Chemistry. I’d be lying if I said it had all started off as well as I wanted it to in regards to work ethic, but about 2 months in, just when I thought I was beginning to get a grip of what A levels entailed a load of personal life problems started to crop up; my best friend from my old secondary school was killed in a car accident, not long after this my mother had a stroke and my siblings throughout the year just kept on having more and more issues. A lot of these really shook me up, for the entirety of year 12 I just sort of drifted; I felt like I had nobody to talk to & I would honestly just try to get through my lessons, which I didn't enjoy (esp Maths & Chemistry) as opposed to trying to learn. I finished the year with awful grades and I just kept putting on weight. When summer came around I felt a little more focused & decided to try and make a change to try and stop the repeat of year 12 happening in year 13, and decided I’d return in the summer and speak to my school to drop chemistry (my most hated subject, however Maths wasn’t far behind). My school spoke to me & said it should be fine; they said that I could continue in Maths & English in year 13 and complete the exams in the summer as planned, and that I would be able to take history in year 12 and then take a year sort of year 14 where I spend the year only doing history. This was great and honestly year 13, although not perfect, went much better for me; I put more work in and really tried to save my grades (which was a really difficult challenge in itself), but then of course covid happened and halted the entire country.

This proved to throw a huge spanner in the works. I had managed to increase my grades by perhaps one in English, but I was really banking on the fact I would sit the exams in the summer in an attempt to save myself (esp in Maths), however this obviously didn’t happen. I knew I would fail maths as things stand so I just hoped I would get at least a B in English as I could work with that for uni. When results day came around, I would be lying if I said I didn’t know I had already screwed up, and ended up getting a B in English Lit, a B in EPQ & a D in Maths. The two B’s I was content with, but I knew I’d have to retake maths in order to get into any uni, let alone the good ones.

Eventually “year 14” came round (this year) and my focus shifted entirely to history. Now this is where I feel like I made a mistake. I tried to be strategic and clever regarding Maths and I think it may have come back to bite me. Essentially, I went into the year thinking I’d use the lessons at school and learn History with the support of my 6th form, then use a service called uplearn and learn the entirety of the Maths course through that & then sit all of the exams (History & Maths) at the end of the year, however around October time, I had decided I wouldn’t be applying for university next year (to attend in summer 2021), as my Mum’s health still wasn’t great, & instead planned on going the year after (for the 2022 summer) when I'm 20 and thought it might be best if I focused entirely on history this year, then do the entirety of the maths course next year as I knew I wouldn’t be going & then when I did go to apply through UCAS, I would also have two actually A levels & a EPQ to apply with and probably a predicted grade around an A in Maths (as uplearn guarantee and A or A* or your money back).

This is where it gets a little harder to explain really; as the year went on I decided that in order to do maths, I'd need to relearn everything anyway, and realised that it wasn't a required subject for any of the uni courses I intend on applying to, so I decided instead of putting myself through the pain of A-level maths again, that I would probably be better off learning an entirely different subject all together and decided on learning psychology instead; uplearn offer a course on it & its also a subject I've always been interested in. So I started psychology over the past few months and have been working away at it, enjoying it very much.

On results day 2021 and I only got a B in history. This has made me think a lot; I’m clearly not that academically gifted and in the year in which everyone’s grades were really inflated, I only got a B. This means I currently have BBD + B in EPQ (which is a really bad set of grades) which not only means I will definitely need an A in psychology to get into my uni choices, but I would’ve also spent 4 years doing A levels, which Russell group Unis will look down on.

I’ve been looking at courses on Russell group websites for both Law and Psychology and some of them offer AAB or ABB as the lowest grade choice, what i’m wondering is, is it likely I’ll be accepted when I apply with ABBD + B in EPQ (the A being a predicted grade) or will I just be flat out rejected, especially considering I completed them over 4 years. I think it’s key to note that I qualify for widening access at some universities due to my caring obligations.

This may all sound like drivel to some people & many of you may not care, but I would love to hear peoples thoughts as well as hopefully getting some questions answered and insight into things. I do honestly feel I’ve messed up at every turn so I’m hoping I can still salvage something from it at this point.

Sorry for the long barrage of information, but I wanted to get it off my chest and I will be very grateful for any help.
Last edited by kzadboy7; 4 weeks ago
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McGinger
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(Original post by kzadboy7)
On results day 2021 and I only got a B in history. This has made me think a lot; I’m clearly not that academically gifted and in the year in which everyone’s grades were really inflated, I only got a B. This means I currently have BBD + B in EPQ (which is a really bad set of grades) which not only means I will definitely need an A in psychology to get into my uni choices, but I would’ve also spent 4 years doing A levels, which Russell group Unis will look down on.
With achieved grades you need to meet the entry requirements - there is no 'he/she might get a higher grade in August' ambiguity.
Everyone had a tough 2 years with covid - you are no different - so Unis will not be interested in long pleading emails.
And many top Unis will not be impressed that its taken you so long to complete your A levels, regardless of covid.

RG is NOT a magic ticket. It does not guarentee you a great career and lifelong happiness, so setting yourself an artificial hurdle like this is a bit daft,
You have admitted that you dont see your yoursef as a high-flyer academically so RG is not a sensible ambition - you will be surrounded by people who are and that can be frustrating/depressing etc when you struggle to keep up, especially for intense subject like Law and Psychology.

Going to a non-RG is not 'my life is over'. RG is just an entirely articial marketing concept thought up by the older Unis about thirty years ago. It actually means nothing sensible. It sounds like you need a more nurturing and less-competitive Uni to feel comfortable and get your academic confidence back.

Look at Unis like
Sussex : https://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/
Kent : https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate
Plymouth : https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/study/undergraduate
Nottingham Trent : https://www.ntu.ac.uk/study-and-cour...nd-your-course
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Googley_eyes
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(Original post by McGinger)
With achieved grades you need to meet the entry requirements - there is no 'he/she might get a higher grade in August' ambiguity.
Everyone had a tough 2 years with covid - you are no different - so Unis will not be interested in long pleading emails.
And many top Unis will not be impressed that its taken you so long to complete your A levels, regardless of covid.

RG is NOT a magic ticket. It does not guarentee you a great career and lifelong happiness, so setting yourself an artificial hurdle like this is a bit daft,
You have admitted that you dont see your yoursef as a high-flyer academically so RG is not a sensible ambition - you will be surrounded by people who are and that can be frustrating/depressing etc when you struggle to keep up, especially for intense subject like Law and Psychology.

Going to a non-RG is not 'my life is over'. RG is just an entirely articial marketing concept thought up by the older Unis about thirty years ago. It actually means nothing sensible. It sounds like you need a more nurturing and less-competitive Uni to feel comfortable and get your academic confidence back.

Look at Unis like
Sussex : https://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/
Kent : https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate
Plymouth : https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/study/undergraduate
Nottingham Trent : https://www.ntu.ac.uk/study-and-cour...nd-your-course
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<Completely agree. I did the whole RG thing, it is literally a marketing thing, and the way they advertise it like the American Ivy League (which it’s not) is a scam. Some RG unis don’t even do more research than non RGs, which is the whole point of it. Some unis just bought their way into the title too. Lectures care less about students and spend less time with them from my experience, and the whole RG uni experience was so isolating and mean (lecture repeatedly shouted at us, called us names etc) that I was left very depressed and suicidal. I dropped out after a term and spent a few months mentally recovering before starting at Sussex and so far they have been much kinder and more accommodating. It’s good too because the course standards for science (idk about other stuff) is just as high as RG unis, they can teach just as well but also care about the students.
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McGinger
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(Original post by Googley_eyes)
before starting at Sussex and so far they have been much kinder and more accommodating.
Glad you are enjoying Sussex - its a lovely place and yes, much 'cosier' than many RG Unis.
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kzboy7
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(Original post by Googley_eyes)
Completely agree. I did the whole RG thing, it is literally a marketing thing, and the way they advertise it like the American Ivy League (which it’s not) is a scam. Some RG unis don’t even do more research than non RGs, which is the whole point of it. Some unis just bought their way into the title too. Lectures care less about students and spend less time with them from my experience, and the whole RG uni experience was so isolating and mean (lecture repeatedly shouted at us, called us names etc) that I was left very depressed and suicidal. I dropped out after a term and spent a few months mentally recovering before starting at Sussex and so far they have been much kinder and more accommodating. It’s good too because the course standards for science (idk about other stuff) is just as high as RG unis, they can teach just as well but also care about the students.
Yeah you are probably right; it’s just you see the statistics for a course like law and how many get hired from Russell group unis and how many from outside of it don’t, and it can be quite alarming. Makes you think “oh I have to go to a Russell group to get a job” sort of thing
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McGinger
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Makes you think “oh I have to go to a Russell group to get a job” sort of thing
Most mainstream employers just want a good degree (2i or a First) from any Uni they have actually heard of.
They really are not impressed by RG because it doesnt mean anything.
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Googley_eyes
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Yeah you are probably right; it’s just you see the statistics for a course like law and how many get hired from Russell group unis and how many from outside of it don’t, and it can be quite alarming. Makes you think “oh I have to go to a Russell group to get a job” sort of thing
Law is a little different because of how corrupt it is. If you’re not at least middle class, white male, friends/family with a good lawyer, or a straight A student then it’s pretty hard to get into the magic circle. I think it’s worth sitting down and reassessing your career goals. It’s going to be hard to get into a uni that they like as even most RG unis won’t be enough for them, and you’ll have so much pressure and competition, including after you graduate. Take some time to think about it all. And don’t forget you can do a masters at a better uni if you do well in your degree.
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McGinger
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(Original post by Googley_eyes)
Law is a little different because of how corrupt it is.
Top Law Firms recruit from top Unis - it really is that simple, and not some great conspiracy.
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kzboy7
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The previous 2 posters are telling you some really important things, I hope you listen to them. You're overly obsessed with the RG thing, and it's really nothing more than a gimmick, literally set up years ago to give a bit of cache and star power. It seems to work but as others have said there's no guarantee you'll have a happy time there. Why do you care so much about going to a RG uni? At the end of the day presumably what you want is a decent start to your career? I can assure you than many of the non-RG universities are MUCH better setup to support your career development in terms of helping you find work experience, placements and the kind of experience that is really going to be attractive to an employer. What people don't understand is that BECAUSE RG universities can rest on their laurels about "being RG" and some people will always fall for that, they don't have to provide the same kind of careers support and resources non-RG universities do in order to compete. Sorry to be blunt but your thinking is back-to-front on this and the fact that you thinking you've "messed up at every turn" makes me wonder if you are a bit depressed. Honestly, you've got decent grades- have a think about what the purpose of this whole degree thing is and then go and find a university that is genuinely suited to you. The HE market is so much bigger and more impressive than the bloody Russell Group. Good luck!
Hey thanks for the reply; I don’t think I’m depressed, just trying to evaluate my options and get the best possibly start I can. I think everyone is probably right with the RG thing, it’s just when you see the chambers report from a few years ago and how dominated by RG unis it is, it makes one think you have to apply for a RG to stand a chance sort of thing (well that’s what I was under the impression was the case). The messed up at every corner thing is just how I feel sort of thing, if I could go back and redo/change my mind on somethings I would, but I of course can’t so I’m trying to make the best of what I can do now sort of thing
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17Student17
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50% of lawyers do not read law at university so you might want to try to get into a good university with an easier to get into subject for a start. Secondly some law firms are trying to recruit without looking at level of institution particularly the large city firms although they still tend to want AAB and a 2/1 or higher in your degree - they are trying to be open to very clever people from less advantaged homes who will excel doing difficult legal issues in practice despite a difficult start. (4 of my children are or almost are lawyers and I am one not that that makes me an expert!)

If you tick boxes for deprivation, free school meals, poverty etc you might want to consider an 18+ apprentice solicitor programme eg Leigh Day had a black London scheme - https://www.legalcheek.com/2019/09/l...iring-lawyers/ My own view is if you get a good degree that is better than skipping university but that might depend on your background. If instead you just had all the bad luck things you mention but are not on free school meals etc then you might not qualify for those programmes I would just make the best of your BBD rather than trying to pick up the A in psychology in a 4th sixth form year. If you are keen to read law at university get into the best one you can. I may not have followed the long post above. It sounds like you might apply for univesrity now - this Autumn to start in 2022 so can you get the psychology A level during this academic year coming up? I may have got the dates wrong. ABBD is obviously going to be better than BBD.

Are you trying to get into university now this month having applied last year and trying to get in in clearing? Or have you no active application and are just putting in a UCAS application this Autumn to go in a year's time in 2022?
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Reality Check
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(Original post by kzadboy7)
Hey thanks for the reply; I don’t think I’m depressed, just trying to evaluate my options and get the best possibly start I can. I think everyone is probably right with the RG thing, it’s just when you see the chambers report from a few years ago and how dominated by RG unis it is, it makes one think you have to apply for a RG to stand a chance sort of thing (well that’s what I was under the impression was the case). The messed up at every corner thing is just how I feel sort of thing, if I could go back and redo/change my mind on somethings I would, but I of course can’t so I’m trying to make the best of what I can do now sort of thing
The Russell Group thing is overdone, particularly on TSR, but I wouldn't write it off as a concept entirely, which some of the posts on here seem to be suggesting you do. It's a useful shorthand for finding the best universities - and for law it is important what university you attend, if you want to get into a good firm.
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CareerSage
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(Original post by kzadboy7)
Hey thanks for the reply; I don’t think I’m depressed, just trying to evaluate my options and get the best possibly start I can. I think everyone is probably right with the RG thing, it’s just when you see the chambers report from a few years ago and how dominated by RG unis it is, it makes one think you have to apply for a RG to stand a chance sort of thing (well that’s what I was under the impression was the case). The messed up at every corner thing is just how I feel sort of thing, if I could go back and redo/change my mind on somethings I would, but I of course can’t so I’m trying to make the best of what I can do now sort of thing
You don't have to do a law degree to get into law. Again sorry to be blunt but if you haven't actually had legal experience you have no idea if working in the law is right for you. I guarantee there are probably 50 other careers that will suit you just as well or better and you will only find that out by having lots of different pieces of work experience as you go through university and beyond and trying different things. Your generation is going to be working until you're about 85, believe me there is lots of time to explore different jobs and careers.

That said there are all sorts of initiatives being set up by law firms to try to diversify their workforce these days. If you're really interested in exploring this career, start now by getting in touch with some local law firms and seeing if you can work shadow there for a couple of days. Take some online courses / MOOCs about the law. Look at lawcareers.net. See if it really interests you in terms of what you'd be doing every day or if this is just a bit of a pipe dream. You do NOT need to go to a RG uni to get a great job!
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kzboy7
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(Original post by 17Student17)
50% of lawyers do not read law at university so you might want to try to get into a good university with an easier to get into subject for a start. Secondly some law firms are trying to recruit without looking at level of institution particularly the large city firms although they still tend to want AAB and a 2/1 or higher in your degree - they are trying to be open to very clever people from less advantaged homes who will excel doing difficult legal issues in practice despite a difficult start. (4 of my children are or almost are lawyers and I am one not that that makes me an expert!)

If you tick boxes for deprivation, free school meals, poverty etc you might want to consider an 18+ apprentice solicitor programme eg Leigh Day had a black London scheme - https://www.legalcheek.com/2019/09/l...iring-lawyers/ My own view is if you get a good degree that is better than skipping university but that might depend on your background. If instead you just had all the bad luck things you mention but are not on free school meals etc then you might not qualify for those programmes I would just make the best of your BBD rather than trying to pick up the A in psychology in a 4th sixth form year. If you are keen to read law at university get into the best one you can. I may not have followed the long post above. It sounds like you might apply for univesrity now - this Autumn to start in 2022 so can you get the psychology A level during this academic year coming up? I may have got the dates wrong. ABBD is obviously going to be better than BBD.

Are you trying to get into university now this month having applied last year and trying to get in in clearing? Or have you no active application and are just putting in a UCAS application this Autumn to go in a year's time in 2022?
Hi, I’m gonna be trying to get in for summer 2022, I wasn’t gonna go to university this year as my mother’s health is still very up and down, so I decided I’d retake/take a new one over this year as opposed to another one last year
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CareerSage
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(Original post by Reality Check)
The Russell Group thing is overdone, particularly on TSR, but I wouldn't write it off as a concept entirely, which some of the posts on here seem to be suggesting you do. It's a useful shorthand for finding the best universities - and for law it is important what university you attend, if you want to get into a good firm.
But what does "best" university mean? Best for whom? Surely the best university depends on the individual needs of the student and the type of education, support, facilities and environment that would best suit them and allow them to get the most of their experience? Russell Group unis are large, research-led institutions and that's not right for everyone - it doesn't mean that you will get the best teachers, or the best pastoral care, or the best access to work experience opportunities. As an example, Surrey was just awarded University of the Year for Graduate Employment (Good Unis Guide 2022). They have an employability programme and industry contacts that are second to none and have heavily invested in that area. I'd say that if you're interested in employment, that puts them in the category of "best", despite not being RG!
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Reality Check
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But what does "best" university mean? Best for whom? Surely the best university depends on the individual needs of the student and the type of education, support, facilities and environment that would best suit them and allow them to get the most of their experience? Russell Group unis are large, research-led institutions and that's not right for everyone - it doesn't mean that you will get the best teachers, or the best pastoral care, or the best access to work experience opportunities. As an example, Surrey was just awarded University of the Year for Graduate Employment (Good Unis Guide 2022). They have an employability programme and industry contacts that are second to none and have heavily invested in that area. I'd say that if you're interested in employment, that puts them in the category of "best", despite not being RG!
Yes, I agree with everything you say in this post, but being realistic about things, there are some universities which are generally accepted to be of a higher calibre than others, in terms of academic reputation and (I hate using the word) perceived prestige. For instance, the University of Bedfordshire might well be 'best' for student X in the individualistic terms you have referenced, and the University of Cambridge would be a terrible choice for that student, again in individualist terms. But that doesn't meant that the University of Bedfordshire is better than the University of Cambridge overall, even if it might be a better choice in certain ways for that particular student. We try to give individual, personalised advice here, but sometimes it's valid to talk in more general terms as well.

I spend a lot of time here telling people not to get hung up on The Rus(s)e(l)l group, and to ensure that the university they go to, and subject they choose to read, is right for them, rather than one based on perceived ideas of 'prestige' or 'elitism', but I think that needs to be tempered with some pragmatism and realism when it comes to the notion that all universities are essentially equal, particularly for subjects like law.
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Yes, I agree with everything you say in this post, but being realistic about things, there are some universities which are generally accepted to be of a higher calibre than others, in terms of academic reputation and (I hate using the word) perceived prestige. For instance, the University of Bedfordshire might well be 'best' for student X in the individualistic terms you have referenced, and the University of Cambridge would be a terrible choice for that student, again in individualist terms. But that doesn't meant that the University of Bedfordshire is better than the University of Cambridge overall, even if it might be a better choice in certain ways for that particular student. We try to give individual, personalised advice here, but sometimes it's valid to talk in more general terms as well.

I spend a lot of time here telling people not to get hung up on The Rus(s)e(l)l group, and to ensure that the university they go to, and subject they choose to read, is right for them, rather than one based on perceived ideas of 'prestige' or 'elitism', but I think that needs to be tempered with some pragmatism and realism when it comes to the notion that all universities are essentially equal, particularly for subjects like law.
Yup I agree with all that!
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You don't have to do a law degree to get into law. Again sorry to be blunt but if you haven't actually had legal experience you have no idea if working in the law is right for you. I guarantee there are probably 50 other careers that will suit you just as well or better and you will only find that out by having lots of different pieces of work experience as you go through university and beyond and trying different things. Your generation is going to be working until you're about 85, believe me there is lots of time to explore different jobs and careers.

That said there are all sorts of initiatives being set up by law firms to try to diversify their workforce these days. If you're really interested in exploring this career, start now by getting in touch with some local law firms and seeing if you can work shadow there for a couple of days. Take some online courses / MOOCs about the law. Look at lawcareers.net. See if it really interests you in terms of what you'd be doing every day or if this is just a bit of a pipe dream. You do NOT need to go to a RG uni to get a great job!
Hi, you are right; I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer but I of course don’t have a lot of experience.

You say in your reply about not having to do law to be lawyer; can you elaborate on that at all? Like what does that mean and what sort of other undergraduate subjects would I have to do to then convert to law? I’ve heard about the SQE test but I wasn’t entirely sure what you need for that or what the advantages or disadvantages of doing it that way are. I do love psychology as well and studying psychology for my undergraduate and then Deciding if I want to do law later does seem a lot more appealing to me, but I’m not absolutely crystal clear that’s how it works.
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I just meant 50% of trainee solicitor recruited by big law firms read a subject different from law than those who do. However if you do not take law at university and do a different degree then you have to study for about an extra year in most cases for sponsored students eg doing the PGDL at BPP and then SQE1 exam which is likely to take you from September after you graduate to the following summer. After that extra year you are then on a par with those whose first degree is law.
You can do any subject eg my son did a BSc in Geography at Bristol. One of my daughters did ancient history (BA) at Bristol. I did law. However unless you find a law firm to sponsor you you then need to fund the PGDL and SQE1 exam year.

You could certainly take psychology at university - my sibling did and has had a lovely career as a clinical psychologist.
Whether you do law or not the important for those at university is to build a law CV whilst there, get law work expeience in holidays and that kind of thing and ideally start applying for paid summer law vacation schemes in year 2 of university and training contracts in year 3 as the firms recruit years ahead.
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