Training Contracts with a Low 2.1

Sorry I accidentally hit enter a bit prematurely...

Anyway, I hope it's okay to ask here: am I likely to be getting any TC offers with a low 2.1? I have a large amount of 2.1s and 2.2s in my module marks, achieving a 2.1 overall. From my perspective it feels that I'm unlikely to get anything, so I thought I'd ask on here

Does anyone know if it's "high" or "low"? You just stick it on the CV, right?

Do they still ask for individual marks in modules or just overall result?  I scraped my 2.1 by a couple of % on my average mark and it wasn't a problem but it was a different millennium.

They do still ask for individual module marks in the section after you declare your overall result

I have yet to see a TC application that doesn't look at your individual module marks

Surely it depends where you're applying?

US/MC/SC- probably going to be an issue

High street- probably wont be an issue

then a sliding scale in between

I do appreciate that, Martian. I was looking more to find out how much of an issue a low 2.1 would be at MC/US/SC level

I would have thought v difficult in the current market, unless you have a wealth of relevant experience and mitigation for the marks

It will a mark in the 'con' column, but I doubt that it will stop you getting an interview and at that point if you are impressive then you should be able to overcome it.

Surely the “where from?” is also still pretty important. 

Thank you also Fosco! I have it in my head that they would have some sort of cut-off system based on mark averages, since they must get far too many applications in general

When did it all become so serious?  I remember working out the lowest mark I could get in my final set of exams to ensure that I scraped through with a 2.1.

Arbiter from Durham - I wasn't sure whether to include that in case I sound as though I think I'm overly impressive (lots of people seem to enjoy flaunting their university education on this site + LegalCheek!)

"When did it all become so serious?"

When the Puritans took over.

Afraid I have agree with Arbiter, rightly or wrongly, the "where from" matters a lot. Low 2:1 from Oxford and you will be fine. Low 2:1 from QMU may be a bit trickier, but not impossible. 

the "where from" matters a lot

Just to re-iterate in case anyone missed it, my 2.1 is from Durham. I can't find an "edit" button on the original post otherwise I'd make it clear there.

 

Thank you to everyone for responding by the way, I really appreciate any advice you might have for me!

If its from Durham then you will be absolutely fine. Apply to Travers Smith. Can't move fro Durham grads in that shop. 

You are not going to a TC with magic circle or US type place with a low 2:1 from Durham unless your dad is amazon's head of legal and will transfer all their work. 

Wot Cheese Toastie said. A 2:1 from Durham is fine, even if it's a "low" one.

Thank you Cheesetoastie, that's quite reassuring.

 

Lindaradlett, yes I did think MC/US might be stretching a bit but I thought I'd ask on here to confirm - thank you!

It's ultimately a numbers game. Prepare a really good cover letter (get as many people to read it as possible) and some answers to the standard kinds of questions they ask on the form. Make a few applications to gauge how they are being received then when you think there is not much you can do to improve these answers just bang out as many applications as possible. You should be able to largely copy and paste at this stage.

Re cover letters you need to hit three main areas:

1. Why this kind of law (e.g. City / high street / criminal / whatever)?

2. Why that firm?

3. Why you?

Point 2 needs to be done afresh each time, but assuming you are applying to only one type of firm the rest should need minimal editing. 

Grit your teeth and start churning out those applications. You're going to be fine. 

sllbw - you might be better off getting into as high a tier firm as you can and moving to a deranged sweat shop once you've qualified.  You should still be pretty portable for a few years after qualifying, just try to get as much relevant experience as you can under your belt.  Another good route is to work at a good national/international firm outside of London then try and move later e.g. DLA, Eversheds, CMS, Pinsents, Addleshaws.

One more question I'm afraid! As the only TC applications that are open right now are for 2021, I am looking for work to fill the time before the next round of applications. I've signed up to a couple of paralegal agencies, but is there something better I could do with my time that might further help me?

 

Really appreciate all of the feedback I've gotten on this thread, thank you everyone

you might be better off getting into as high a tier firm as you can

Is it a common move to go from SC to MC/US after qualifying/later on? I don't mean to sound rude at all (I have no real experience of law)

I wouldn't hire anyone who told me they had a large amount of 2.1s.

On the other hand, I'd quite happily consider someone who told me they had a large number of 2.1s.

 

Hth.

Others may be better placed as I am not senior enough to making hiring decisions, but for what it is worth...

Paralegal job is a very safe bet and will mean you should hit the ground running. Having any other office job (in the City is ideal, but by no means required) at all is also great experience. Silly things like knowing Word / Excel well and how to use a bloody photocopier are only easy if you know how to do it!

I would paralegal until you get a TC and then immediately go and do something more interesting until it starts. Ideally, something that allows you to have fun, drink and chase women / men / both before you enter the Big Law Rat-race. 

If you are super keen, getting a job in a company that is the sort of client your future firm would want would be fantastic experience. 

On the other hand, I'd quite happily consider someone who told me they had a large number of 2.1s

Putting aside the inane activity of advocating prescriptivism on an internet dicussion, it depends whether you believe "2.1" is a count noun. I think, because we are using informal language when putting an S on the end of "2.1", it's quite a dull point to be picking up on

Is it a common move to go from SC to MC/US after qualifying/later on? I don't mean to sound rude at all (I have no real experience of law)

 

Not rude at all, I take it you're trying to work this all out.  I can't really say how common it is but from what I've seen, particularly in those first few years of qualifying, there's scope to move up to higher tier firms where they have the need and you have relevant experience.  I've seen a few move from SC to US in particular, more so than to MC.  

Whether you'd want to go there is another question...

But I suppose the bottom line is if your degree won't get you there first time then you should still aim as high as you can, try to move later and, if that fails, you're no worse off.

 

@sllbw

Firstly, heh. Good for you for giving it back. As a true pedant, I think it should be 2:1s, but it is indeed tedious to go on about this sort of thing on an internet forum.

Secondly, SC (or even "lower") to MC / US happens all the time. 

If you qualify at Herbies, Travers, Ashurst, Norton Rose (are those all SC? Who cares anyway.) etc. you will be absolutely fine. 

Thank you Cheesetoastie and Sorrydidyousaysomething

 

I promise this won't devolve into having ROF write my TC applications, but how would you suggest going about showing your interest in a firm (in your application, that is)? I've heard mixed advice on the matter. Some say that you could take a particular interest in the work of a partner/department and reference that, others suggest just showing acknowledgement of the company ethos and so on.

 

I don't actually know how I'd find the work done by a partner/department but I'm sure google could sort me out

My advice would be work out what area you want to specialise in and then go and get work experience at clients in that area on your CV and then apply. You're going to need to rely on something other than academics.

"don't actually know how I'd find the work done by a partner/department but I'm sure google could sort me out"

profiles on the firms website for a start 

 

I will stop asking stupid questions now! Thank you to everyone who responded, it is much appreciated even though the opinions were a little conflicting. I will keep this page open in case anyone else posts their two cents. I really value being able to ask these sorts of questions somewhere, so thank you!

Get a good understanding of what the firm specializes in, its clients, sectors, offices, and anything else newsworthy.  Map that to your interests and abilities.   I don't know how you get an insight into partner-level stuff from your position either - seems unlikely/difficult.  I'd say that's too granular.

It is important to have an insight into a law firm as a business, not just doing law yourself.  I think that's what makes candidates stand out.  That means trying to see things from the perspective of others - partners, clients, industry, lawyers at all levels, non-lawyer staff.  How you provide a cost-effective service tailored to client needs, basically.

Proper US firms are notoriously picky at TC stage as a NQ-2 PQE , with a couple insisting on a first from oxbridge only.

if you look at LinkedIn you will see no end of trainees and NQ with these qualifications. Durham is a big target uni for large MC /SC firms. And if your application stands out you might get an interview. Otherwise there are a huge amount of excellent firms where you should pass the sift .

the issue is HR bods are notoriously lazy and often thick so will only sift those with a 2.1 with an average of 65% plus

the issue is HR bods are notoriously lazy and often thick so will only sift those with a 2.1 with an average of 65% plus

Yes I had a bit of an issue with one HR team in a role as Campus Representative/Ambassador for a firm - could never get them to help me organise something! They also tend to give out controversial advice such as "only apply to 3 or 4 firms" which I've heard a lot of lawyers disagree with in strong terms

Pretty easy to get an insight into the partners - just read their profile and Legal 500 entry and then go on a research trail from there. Useful if there are particular sectors that you would like to be involved in. If a particular deal or case looked interesting to you then find out who was instructed and go from there. You really only need to know how to Google. 

I wouldn't get too transfixed on what area you want to specialise in the work of a particular partner as the kind of law I thought I wanted to do as a student was totally different to what I ended up specialising in.  If you have no prior experience it's really difficult to decide what you might end up doing long term so just concentrate on the criteria the firm is looking for in a trainee and how you fit the criteria.

Quite possible to move around later assuming there's sufficient demand.  At 3PQE I moved I moved from a smallish firm in the City to a silver circle firm that had turned me down for a training contract.

There is no such thing as a “low” 2:1, and you should avoid doing or saying anything that implies you accept there is. A 2:1 is a 2:1 is a 2:1. p.s. it is perfectly possible to get a TC with what you’d call a low 2:1, and such degrees probably account for about half of City trainees HTH

There is no such thing as a “low” 2:1

What you've said does make me feel better, but the reality is that you will find a lot of mention of "a strong 2:1" on grad recruitment sites!

I remember being at an evening hosted by Slaughter and May, who sent a grad recruitment HR bod.

The buffet was sublime, as was the unlimited amount of drink on offer. There were many there who had concerns as to whether S&M would really take UoB students as the perception is they mainly only recruit from Oxbridge.

She was lapping up all the attention, and gave such advice as:

1) Only apply for a handful

2) Craft each application from scratch as she can tell when one hasn't been 

3) I am the gateway to the partners and if I let someone through to interview who is not up to scratch then the senior partner will personally come looking for her , and she will be summoned to his office

She was from Essex as she kept telling anyone, and as the evening progressed she became more and more hammered , it was a car crash. When pressed what other Unis S&M recruit from, she replied "it must be at least 30 now" Said student pressed her on which ones, and she trotted out about 20 Oxbridge Colleges, then Durham, Bristol, Imperial, LSE, KCL, UCL.

Jesus wept she had no idea that say Balliol College and Lady Magaret Hall were the same Uni. This is what you will have to deal with when I say thick people in HR are often clueless

Jesus wept she had no idea that say Balliol College and Lady Magaret Hall were the same Uni

This story gave me a good chuckle

There's nothing to be lost (either than time and effort) in applying. They can only reject your application and you may be successful 

We were all stunned .

Another time I applied for a pupillage at a leading specialist civil common law set. Had an interview , which I thought went really well. I got rejected for a second round interview, and called the HR woman for feedback as to why I fell short.

She called back a day later, and apologised she sent me a rejection email , when it should have been an email inviting me to a second and final round. Jesus fvcking christ

I turned up to one firm for an interview having traveled for a couple of hours to get there and was told the partner who was meant to me was too busy and so I had an interview with a lady from HR who just asked generic questions about my ability to work in a team, etc.  I didn't bother going back to meet the partner as didn't fancy wasting another half day on finding they were too busy again.

Sails, I have had similar experiences in the past , and it's annoying. " Oh sorry John isn't available", after waiting in reception for an hour. Someone will rearrange it and send you details I didn't bother and withdrew my application.

Another time I had taken a week off law school to do an assesed mini pupillage at a good commercial/civil set. I turn up on Monday, and am kept waiting for over2.5 hours whilst they found someone for me to sit with. I turned upon Tuesday ,and didn't return that afternoon

I was in a similar boat (low-to-middling 2:1 from elsewhere in the Russell Group with a significant smattering of 2:2s) and it was a slog, but I ended up at an SC firm after +/- 5 years.

Until the year before I got my TC, I only made it past the application stage once, which definitely made me question whether it was my grades or my application more generally. I still don't really know, but my CV was a lot stronger by the time I started getting interviews.

I wasn't sure in the early years whether I wanted to go into law, so purposely avoided paralegaling but still took jobs that I thought would help. The paralegal route might have been easier (I have no way of knowing), but I had a great time doing what I did and my peers who paralegaled seem to think I learned more from it too.

In any case, I hope you find a path that works for you that you can enjoy along the way! 

“Jesus wept she had no idea that say Balliol College and Lady Magaret Hall were the same Uni”

 

Nor did I tbf. I had to look them both up.

The paralegal route might have been easier (I have no way of knowing), but I had a great time doing what I did and my peers who paralegaled seem to think I learned more from it too.

Mind me asking what you did instead? Thank you though, it's nice to hear you've done well out of a similar position!

 

Nor did I tbf. I had to look them both up.

Me neither but I think if you can name the college you'd likely have an inkling

Like I said on the other thread, what I’d noticed was anecdotal observation only.  I’m not a solicitor so haven’t been through your experience myself.  However I have worked at a senior level in law and finance and paralegalling doesn’t really seem to give people “an edge” unless it’s at a really ridiculous top firm.

Personally I’d say industry experience would make you stand out more, especially with a current or aspirational client of the firm in a sector you’re interested in.  That’s just me, I’ve seen all types of trainees, direct, post parabeagle and post industry.  The industry guys seemed to get more respect from the partners in my team.

OP, being a paralegal WILL undoubtedly help you when applying for TCs if you don't get one for the first 2/3 years post your graduate degree, rest assured. Far better that, than working in Tescos or as an administrator for an Insurance Brokers.

 

Tec, as he rightly says has never been through the process himself.

 

Teclis, what is the team you speak of time and time again?

Oh and in terms of what industry, I have no idea what kind of work/firm you aspire to work in so I have no idea.

Personally I find litigation to be something that sounds very interesting but obviously I'm a graduate so this could change over the course of a TC (fingers crossed of course). I've also heard mixed feedback about the longevity of being a litigation lawyer

 

HSF sounds pretty amazing in this regard, but they only recruit from their vac schemers - this year at least (and I was rejected from their paralegal posting, likely because I don't have experience/LPC)

Well my knowledge of litigation can be written on a very small postit.

Out of curiosity what are your 16 and beyond extra curriculars like?

Assuming you mean school exams by "your 16" - all A and A*, including 4 A Levels

 

Extra curricular I have 2 sports teams, member of a fair few societies, campus ambassador for a law firm, exec on a drama society

Well that all seems pretty well rounded.  With litigation aspirations you probably are best trying to paralegal at a litigation outfit to be fair.  I personally hated litigation because it was a great way for us to lose a client whether we won or lost (if you win, they whinge about the cost, if you lose they whinge that you acted poorly) so I used to avoid mentioning it at any cost!

Is probably suggest talking to paralegal agencies with a view to trying to get a couple of years lit para experience under your belt while you apply for TCs and possibly vac schemes.

 

Teclis , once again you have failed to recall on multiple ocassions , that you have vented your career and your rugby career on here multiple times, I am certainly not fishing mate.

That's exactly what I'm up to at the moment - reassuring to hear you suggest that! Just a touch worried that my low grades would make all of this effort amount to quite little

Tec, say that again, what am I wrong about in what I said. 

 

Look at your chat history m8

OP, he has never been a city lawyer, ever. Accordingly he has no clue as to the process. 

OP, your grades aren't low , just no brilliant, you will be fine

As I caveated earlier, I am not a solicitor.  I worked closely with the training partner at a very large firm and listened when he was talking to other partners.  If you para for a bit and maybe squeeze in some pro bono work(?) you’ll put yourself into a far better position than at present.

Not sure about pro bono work as a graduate, unless you mean options like the FRU

EBIT, this is really getting under your collar.  Chill out young man, you’ll give yourself an aneurism.

There are a number of charities who use students and graduates to help people which count as pro bono.  Someone I knew worked for a charity that helped people fill out benefit applications, which was predominantly staffed by law students/grads.

Oh very interesting, thank you! Could I ask, without getting to detailed, what scope there is to work in law without being a lawyer (as in the capacity you have suggested)?

Not so much these days.  But there are other forms of lawyer without being a solicitor necessarily.  Obviously the bar, which brings its own problems - ebitda knows much more about that than me.

Also legal executive route which you can study for while working.  I know rather a lot about that particular aspect, albeit the rules have massively changed over the years.

There are countless other positions of course, just like in any big business law firms need HR, marketing, new business, PR, IT etc, but I imagine that’s not your interest.

OP, just stick to the straightforward route if uou do not get a TC immediately that is being a paralegal, then a tc . Forget this pro bono stuff the MC/US firms will NOT be interested wharn seeing if you are a better candidate . As to Legal Exec that route should not trouble you, you have a 2.1 from a great uni, so stick it out for the TC. 

Wrongly, at the sort of firm you are looking at Legal Execs are mostly considered sencon rate. Crack on you will be fine.

Ebitda, did you realise that if you get fellowship with cilex (passed module 6 exams and 3 years working in law) then you don’t need to do the LPC to qualify as a solicitor?

yup i did m8

The former global head of real estte at DLA was a Chartered Legal Exec

Hardly a poor career path.  Just giving the lad options that’s all.

You have that the wrong way round teclis. 

ILEX have to do the LPC but not a training contract. 

Dunno what will happen to that route with the LPC changes tho 

Urgh that’s what I meant and the SQE which will be in place after fellowship.  Sorry, tired and it’s too hot here.

sllbw09 Jul 19 14:45

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On the other hand, I'd quite happily consider someone who told me they had a large number of 2.1s

Putting aside the inane activity of advocating prescriptivism on an internet dicussion, it depends whether you believe "2.1" is a count noun. I think, because we are using informal language when putting an S on the end of "2.1", it's quite a dull point to be picking up on

 

Call me dull or inane or whatever - welcome to the legal profession.  And you can argue that "it's just the internet" but if you drop a clanger like that in any context and you can be guaranteed that someone will judge you on it.

if you drop a clanger like that in any context and you can be guaranteed that someone will judge you on it

I don't dispute this, nor did I call you "dull or inane" - if we're being so picky about language on the internet, that is!

FWIW from someone who has never been (or wanted to be) anywhere near one of the firms you're targeting except client side, I would look more favourably on someone with business/industry experience than a paralegal. Where the latter might give you an edge is at firms that recruit from their own paralegals, but otherwise I'd get a proper job and learn some business common sense. Converts from industry have always had far more interesting stories to tell at interview than someone who has been doing menial crap as a paralegal.

And who knows, you may like it and get to dodge law entirely...

But unless you are absolutely fixated on MC/US/SC you should have a decent chance of a TC at any number of firms so don't sweat it.

Mind me asking what you did instead? Thank you though, it's nice to hear you've done well out of a similar position!

It was a specific enough route that too much detail would probably out me, but it involved lucking out more than a few times. It's probably also difficult to reproduce, given that most of it was accidental.

Started briefly in-house as a paralegal (which I often forget at this point, but it wasn't planned - the opportunity came up through a family friend while I was looking at other avenues), then transferred internally doing a broader mix of ops, project management, procurement, commercial contracts and cross-border corporate/company secretarial type work.

After that, I worked overseas for a consultancy in a law-adjacent industry before doing a vac scheme and then joining a tech company. Both came with a lot of breadth and responsibility with little management/oversight, and between them I covered commercial contracts, equity and debt financing, financial regulation, privacy, digital marketing, tax, accounting, general ops, product management, recruitment and more at a decent level.

I had to figure out a lot on the fly, which was great for me, but definitely not for everyone (and has its limits regardless, but if you're lucky you can get a productive and enjoyable few years out of it). 

As for what might be most generalisable from my experience:

  • Paralegaling is a fairly straightforward way to find a job, since there's a liquid market that expects to hire pretty fresh law grads;
  • If you're going to paralegal, in-house is good because other opportunities can become available internally to give you scope to expand outside of a purely legal remit (useful for the reasons others have outlined above, and also for exit opportunities if you decide that law may not be for you or you want to keep your options open);
  • Smaller teams are preferable, since you're less likely to get stuck on one part of a big process so usually get to see a wider variety of work/business areas;
  • From my understanding of the private practice paralegal market, much of it is project- or workstream-based rather than generalist, which isn't how I'd want to spend my time (you might think differently).

I'd focus on making sure your CV emphasises any boxes you might tick.

Or, if you can't refer to them overtly on your CV, then make sure that your hairstyle/ clothes/ religious beard/ facial piercings scream "Diversity hire!". 

The degree counts for very little these days. 

make sure that your hairstyle/ clothes/ religious beard/ facial piercings scream "Diversity hire!". 

This is very sad advice, I suggest you keep this kind of thought to yourself

there are some right idiots at all sort of supposedly good law firms. clearly standards aren't that high, so assume a 2.1 from durham should be fine.

 

 

Working at MC/US/SC firms will give trainees expertise in pagination, scanning and copying, like Dominic Raab learnt as future Brexit Secretary. It won't be necessary to know that the UK is an island that depends on maritime imports, especially from Calais.

A medium-sized firm in the nearest large town or city where you live is the best bet. Better still, don't go into law at all.

 

Ah, the old "big firm trainees just copy and paginate" bullshit.

I doubt most would even know how to use a photocopier, let alone "paginate", whatever that is. Sounds like something undertaken in the lower tier of the bronze medallion.

A medium-sized firm in the nearest large town or city where you live is the best bet. Better still, don't go into law at all.

Or even better still, don't choose to comment on a thread written about training contracts if this is the low-level advice you have to bring.

Christ. Some useful advice for a newbie on this thread. What has happened to RoF?

What has happened to RoF...?

1. Time passes.... 10 years on...

2. Roffer’s own children facing similar probs 

sllbw: With respect, one needs to ensure people are being realistic and not just fancy having a go at law because they've watched legal dramas on TV, or because Mum and Dad says they ought to do it. It will be too late if they get caught in a career path that they hate.