CAN I GET A LAW TRAINING CONTRACT WITH A 2.2 DEGREE?
A 2.2 degree will reduce the number of law firms you can apply to since most companies in 2022 ask for a 2.1. In your search for a training contract, you will probably come across a few firms saying they are looking for candidates with a strong academic record. A strong academic record is another way of asking for 2:1; some law firms explicitly state that applicants should at least have had or be expecting to have a 2:1 in their qualifying degree. Now if you see this what do you do? Do you become despondent and depressed? Do you give up any idea of successfully getting a training contract offer? Or do you stand up and be counted?
If you are familiar with our website, you’ll be aware that we are believers in strong academics. Thus, while we do understand the importance of excellent grades for a successful training contract application we do however believe that in a situation where your grades have not been excellent it does not mean fatality will befall your training contract application. There are other things which you can use to negate the impact of your 2:2. Yes you can stand out from the crowd of applicants with your 2:2
How to stand out from the crowd if you achieved a 2.2?
The first thing I’ll say before you start making an application or seeking to stand out from the crowd through your application is to exclude law firms which explicitly state that they want at least a 2:1. If there are law firms which you believe will discriminate based on your grade but they don’t out rightly say so you can have a look at their trainee profiles or what members of their recruitment team have said in interviews. You can even email them asking for clarification. Now let’s dig in!
Where your grade represents an obstacle your work experience (especially in the legal field) is the most important lap you can use to surmount it. The sooner you understand that there are a lot of candidates with a first-class and a 2:1 out there who have no training contract offer, who find it difficult getting one the quicker you’ll understand the level of challenge you are facing. If you understand this then you can buckle down and do what needs to be done.
You should engage in everything that is a law experience or even remotely looks like one; such practice will set you apart from the higher grade applicants. Experiences like vacation schemes, internships in a company’s in-house legal department and working as a paralegal all count. If the opportunity to take part in a mini-pupillage presents itself please take it because just like the other experiences it shows that you have engaged what it’s like to work with real clients on real clients.
In your quest to partake in the abovementioned experiences you might hit a wall: the failure to get the experiences because of how competitive they are. So what do you do? What you do is engage in volunteering. Go to your local community law centre and tell them you want to work for them for free. Most community centres will grab the opportunity to employ someone bold enough to approach them.
Further, feel free to approach the local firms or high street firms asking them about work. Another sector is to volunteer for charities not just bucket shaking on a Saturday but being involved with the administrative duties and development of initiatives to raise funds for the charity. If there are actions that you will take in the line of duty that will result in you getting an award by all means do.
Get Extra Certifications
In this technological age, there are many online courses which are recognized and can offer your valuable knowledge for a small fee. Perhaps you can take an online course in finance or business management. One of the principles behind the training trainees receive during their training contract is the principle of being able to manage their cases, the ability to manage clients, and the ability to maintain and develop clients that will bring in revenue. Thus if you have engaged in courses that show that you can do this the firm will look at you as a potentially valuable member leading to a training contract offer.
Develop your Commercial Acumen
A truth that might help you is for you to know that getting the first-class has nothing to do with having commercial awareness. If I was a recruiter and I had to choose one from two applications: an applicant with a first-class grade but no commercial awareness; and on the other hand an applicant with a 2:2 but with great commercial awareness. I’ll lean towards the candidate with a 2:2. Why you might ask?
The simple truth is that a law firm is a business and is in the business to make profits. Thus if you can engage in activities that display a high commercial acumen then you stand a good chance of getting a training contract offer – a law firm can look beyond your poor grade. There are several ways of developing your commercial awareness. The easiest ways are through research and following the news.
Have a look at our article on how to develop commercial awareness or our latest addition on typical commercial awareness questions you may encounter in an interview.
In our article dealing with networking, we defined networking as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts; the result of interacting and engaging with them is the mutual benefit of both parties. We also said networking can happen anywhere and not just at networking events. In that light, I’ll advise that in your spare time you frequent places where solicitors are known to be: courts
Digress into Other Sectors
While I may not be the best example for this – because my grades were a first – I remember that when I put that I was trading the stock market as a personal investor, various law firms at which my applications scaled their preliminary stage always wanted me to talk a bit about why I chose to invest in the stock market. You do not have to follow my example to the hilt, something similar might suffice. Perhaps you can start up your own business? Maybe you can go into the sports industry by coaching a local team for competitions.
Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
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