Quitting a law degree because of a disappointing first year: a good idea?

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By Alex Aldridge on


Last week I got this email. My response is below.


Dear Anonymous Lancaster University Student,

Keep going.

Your grades aren’t that bad. And, as you say, you know where you went wrong and will improve next year: that’s what people are meant to do at university.

As for getting a vac scheme at a magic or silver circle firm — so, you have to wait a year until you’ve got better grades. Accept it, and find something else to do next summer.

Of course, there is always the possibility that your grades won’t improve sufficiently to put you in contention for a leading law firm, or indeed any law firm. Just like there’s a possibility that you’ll be hit by a bus in the next couple of years. But I doubt you’d consider staying inside for 24 months to prevent yourself suffering serious injuries on the roads. That’s basically what giving up law to prevent yourself getting a 2:2 or low 2:1 would amount to.

And if the worst comes to the worst and your training contract hopes are still looking bleak a couple of years from now, simply refrain from doing the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Then use your eminently transferrable law degree for other purposes.

Unfortunately, even if you get a first in your degree your life will be far from sorted. OK, so it’ll probably land you a training contract — although beware the backlash against top grades that we’re beginning to see — but it won’t get you an NQ job. And it certainly won’t get you partnership.

The road is long, and at every step of the way you’re going to face uncertainty and doubt of a similar kind to that which you’re currently experiencing. Better to learn to live with it — which you have an opportunity to start doing now — than to make negative choices based on fear.

Be bold: keep going.