Advice

I have to resit every exam on the GDL: can I still get a training contract?

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117

Or should I just call it quits?

EXAM1

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one part-time Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) student questions whether there is any point in pursuing a career in law after failing every single exam.

areer

I have found myself in dire straits here. I have managed to fail every single exam on my GDL in my first year (I’m doing it part-time over two years). I have the option to resit and I’m considering it, but I am worried that my applications will just be binned on sight! Are there any firms (outside of high street, divorce and personal injury firms, which I’m not interested in) that will consider me for training contracts once I’ve done and passed my resits? Is it worth trying to continue with the GDL, or should I invest my time and money elsewhere?

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to careers@legalcheek.com.

117 Comments

Anonymous

I am a repeat violent offender, can neither read nor write, extreme political views and terrible body odour. Should I apply for a tc ?

(60)(17)

Anonymous

Is that you Trump?

(26)(2)

Trumpenkrieg

I bet Trump has better BO than his protesters

(4)(7)

Anonymous

Some might look at you if your cv is otherwise good but failing every paper might suggest you aren’t very good at law. Or not very good at balancing your day job with studying. Neither of which recommend you. From your post dismissing high street law (which is very hard to get training contracts in because the firms can’t afford them as easily) it sounds like you’ve got your heart set on a commercial firm. Why would their clients pay £200 an hour for your research on a complex and contentious obscure area of law as a trainee if you can’t get an essay on donoghue v Stephenson to a pass mark?

(136)(6)

Anonymous

Harsh but slightly true. But thats the whole point of training….to train and improve.

(8)(9)

Anonymous

Haha, wow. That Donoghue v Stevenson comment was completely gratuitous , stop being so pompous. This person had to balance a job and a part-time GDL.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(27)(77)

Anonymous

Jesus. Go and see a doctor luv, there appears to be a rather large chip on your shoulder.

(23)(6)

Anonymous

They made an excellent point. I didn’t see a chip on their shoulder, just the cold, hard truth. Anyone can fail an exam but not everyone can fail EVERY exam. Specialist in failure. I’m sure the City will be queuing up for their services. I’d imagine the high street firms they’re so quick to dismiss wouldn’t employ them either!

(32)(5)

Anonymous

yeah, its gratuitous, but it makes the point rather well, doesn’t it?

(2)(0)

Eat law, shit big dolla

Hah, cry harder you weak betacuck. This loser’s chances at BigLaw are utterly nonexistent and yet you’d still disagree.

Pinhead.

(10)(4)

Lord Harley of Counsel K.StJ. LLM LLB MDA BSc DPhal Us B&Q BBQ WTF ABBA LOL

You don’t need qualifications to be a lawyer.

Make them up as you go. No harm will come of it.

…plus there is always CILEx – they’ll take anybody, no matter how useless.

(65)(7)

Anonymous

Cilex definitely don’t take anybody… What are you basing this on?

(8)(18)

Anonymous

Please do tell how hard cilex is…

(22)(1)

Anonymous

I do see how it is any different from the LPC…you do fewer modules but the content is still the same.

(1)(4)

Anonymous

Also I note that you didn’t actually answer the question

(0)(3)

Anonymous

If you can spell CILEX you can get in

(9)(3)

Blonde Bomber

Lol, banta

(4)(0)

Formerly Legal

It depends on two things: the reasons for failing in the first place, and what else you have to offer (assuming that you go on to gain not only passes but superior grades in every resit, the whole of the second year and across the BPTC/LPC subsequently). If you have real extenuating circumstances (e.g. health problems, difficult family circumstances), which won’t any longer impact on your performance, some firms will at least look at your plea of mitigation. A lot of part-time students are juggling multiple commitments, and sometimes this creates unavoidable pressures; maybe you can manage these better from now on. It must, however, be balanced with a lot of positives, e.g. relevant work experience, clearly reasoned interest in the practice areas/firm you are applying to, otherwise excellent academics).

(23)(0)

Anonymous

I agree with this. In addition, it may be necessary to consider your commitment to law as a whole, in order to evaluate whether the stress and difficulty of resitting exams and explaining away poor marks is worth it. However, if – and it’s a big, elephant sized if – you get better marks next year and on the LPC (or whatever course is around), as well as some good experience, you might do better.

Related to the above, it’s also concerning you dismiss high street firms and two significant areas of law outright: why is this? Have you experience in these areas or do you simply want to do something more “glamorous”?

(8)(0)

SullCrom Swagg

No chance he will. The LPC is far easier than the GDL and yet there were still retards in my class with LLBs from LondonMet who managed to fail several CPA modules.

This guy better call it quits before he wastes more time and money for nothing.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Are GDL exams of a similar difficulty to papers at a top university?

(7)(9)

Anonymous

No.

(17)(18)

Bumblebee

It’s a fair question, but it requires a slightly nuanced answer.

It’s almost certainly easier to pass the GDL than it is to pass many courses at a top university. In fact, passing the GDL is very easy. It’s true that the failure rates on the GDL exceed the failure rates for courses at top universities. However, this says more about the quality of the students on the GDL than it does the difficulty of the course.

However, it is harder to do very well on the GDL than it is to do very well on university courses at top universities. The evidence for this is quite clear. Generally, there is very strong correlation between university results and GDL results. Even so, there are far more candidates with a first from a top university and a merit on the GDL than there are with a 2.i from a top university and a distinction on the GDL.

Also, it is always worth bearing in mind that the GDL is far more standardised than university courses. It is very difficulty to compare, for example, the aptitude of Candidate A who got a low first in history from Oxford and Candidate B who got a high 2.i in classics from Cambridge. Indeed, it is exceedingly superficial and pointless to even try. On the other hand, if both candidates subsequently attained different results on the same course – namely the GDL – all of a sudden one has an objective, fair and discerning measure by which to differentiate them.

(13)(2)

Anonymous

The questions are equally hard, but you can pick and choose them. Combine that with doing all the core models in a year, and it’s a hard course.

Plenty of people with first only end up. Pass on the GDl. I would call it a Micky mouse course- but having just done it I am a little bias

(12)(5)

Anonymous

loool they’re genuinely on a par with the A Level I misguidedly took in Law

(4)(10)

Anonymous

Academically much easier.

In terms of the volume of work – I found my GDL exams harder than Oxford finals, which is saying something given that the latter are specifically designed to be as stressful as possible.

(23)(8)

OxLawyer

If you’d sat Jurisprudence finals you might feel differently. Academically much harder than the GDL, plus all papers in one go.

(20)(2)

Anonymous

Mate I did PPE.

(10)(14)

silvercirc

And you’ve proved his point. At Ox considered total joke degree.

(15)(7)

Anonymous

It’s considered one of the hardest degrees. You obviously didn’t go there.

(2)(13)

Anonymous

No it’s seen as a chancers degree for Cameron wannabes. It’s really not well respected.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

Keep telling yourself that. I’m sure your 2.ii from LSBU isn’t seen as a ‘chancers degree’.

Anonymous

REKT.

Anonymous

Lol, burned.

(1)(0)

Banta Claus

Hah, absolutely not. The GDL is tough since its short, condensed and done by students with absolutely no clue about law before they start in October.

Other than that it’s a piss walk, all you need to do is just put in the hours and you’ll pass no problem.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Obvious clickbait is obvious.

Alex, stop posting crap and make this segment actually useful (like the mental health one)

(13)(2)

Anonymous

You can just imagine the scenario in LC Towers:

Right, so we’ve ticked the TC box… failed every exam… anything else?

How about we rule out everything except commercial firms?

Brilliant, imagine the seethe….

(15)(0)

Anonymous

It really depends…. if you have an Undergrad degree from a top uni with very high grades there *some* firms may still consider you if you have a strong interest in Law. However, it will be difficult if you have failed every exam on the GDL.

Just have to work hard and work smart from now on with the GDL, LPC and TCs. Its not impossible but will be difficult.

(2)(0)

LKY

Nope, utterly impossible mate. Zip chance. Literally zilch.

The lad is screwed as far as City firms are concerned I’m afraid, tough luck.

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(6)(5)

Newbie Sol

Having done the GDL whilst balancing full time work, I understand the difficulties faced by students particularly those who have come from an area of study where your analytical and writing skills perhaps aren’t utilised to the same degree.
That being said, I now work in a national , but high street orientated practice and emphasise how difficult it is to obtain a TC. Not only that, there are many students who finish their degree but are unable to make the transition from study to practice, through for example an inability to effectively multi-task, prioritise and deal with the day to day pressures that legal work requires.
I’d question whether you believe you are best suited to a life in practice as ultimately it is a long hard slog and one which will encounter many other battles other than failing exams. This is just the first step so be prepared!
In any respect , do something you love not something you think you should do!

(11)(0)

Tug Speedman

How are things at Irwin Mitchells? Did they finally allow you guys to keep your phones?

Mega lolz.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

In the competitive world of paralegaling (never mind a TC) you would have an impossible task of convincing me to hire you. There may be a glimmer of hope if you have some really good reason for it – just having a job and doing it part time is not one. We have paralegals at my (commercial) firm who work full time and do the LPC at weekends and they end up with a distinction.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

Harsh reality tbh…

(4)(0)

Kirk Lazarus

Hear hear. The OP is kinda fucked methinks.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(4)(0)

Banta Claus

Faaaaarkkkkk, such bantz. 10/10.

(0)(0)

Charlie

Sounds like something my supervising partner at Jones Day would say.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

If it’s discernible from your application/CV that you failed all of your first-year GDL exams, your application would be binned immediately at my firm unless you have some stellar mitigating circumstances.

(6)(0)

Dootlord

Do the resits because you will never be in a better position to pass them again. All the knowledge is already in your head, you’ve just got to get in on the paper in time. You’ve already paid for the GDL, surely its better to spend a little extra cash and get the qualification, rather than merely spending a huge amount and having no qualification.

There’s a, what, 5 year expiry on the GDL? A lot can happen in 5 years. Why don’t you want to do high street, divorce and PI? Do you have experience? If no, go out and get some! Even if you do still hate them, your CV will look better and when asked in interviews you’ll have a better reason than 90% of people.

Are you likely to get a TC straight of the bat? No. But this is an opportunity to make yourself more interesting and more sellable, so that when you do find the law area and firm you ‘click’ with, you’re the one that gets the job.

(18)(0)

Anonymous

Good comment. There are court of appeal judges who got thirds. Grades don’t always reflect how good you will be at the job.

Getting work expirence and showing a firm how good you are (normally as a paralegal) can get you in. But not at commercial firms sadly.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

There may be CA judges who got a third, but they probably also got pupillage from a friend of the family and silk when it was at the Lord Chancellor’s whim. Times have moved on.

(17)(1)

Not Amused

Just imagine this is about being a doctor and not a lawyer.

(19)(1)

Sandman

if it was about becoming a doctor then I would say definitely pack in the GDL – it won’t help much with becoming a doctor.

(67)(0)

Anonymous

That’s completely different!! To become doctor there’s no flexibility on grades and ability… if you don’t have the grades you won’t get in. Unlike Law where there’s so blurred lines, flexibility and backdoor handouts.

(2)(7)

alphabrah

Lol yeah, keep reminding yourself that. The hard facts are that shit degrees/results/excuses = no TC 4 u.

Lelz.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

I know a number of doctors – my family is full of them. One of them failed all his A-Levels and did resits and then had to re-apply to university. Got into a good London medical school. Now a consultant emergency doctor. Another failed her second year of medical school and had to re-take. Now a consultant anesthetist (one of the harder areas to get into).

So I guess what you’re saying, NA, is that this chap should soldier on and retake the GDL?

Or are you just being your usual pompous, self-righteous, elitist, prickish self?

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Apply ointment to the burn.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I would say to give up now. Or resit for the sake of it but a training contract is unlikely. I understand people mentioning mitigating circumstances above, but as someone with some pretty substantial mitigating circumstances to explain my 2.2 from Oxbridge (father had a brain tumour removed during my finals) and distinctions in GDL and LPC, I still had to apply for 63 training contracts in order to secure one. From my experience, mitigating circumstances still mean your CV goes in the bin, or more likely, straight into the reject stream of the online application system.

(10)(1)

CAMmcLaw

Oxford are incredibly harsh with mitigating circumstances. I had a friend with the same problem in Jurisprudence.

Frankly ridiculous that you’re automatically screened out but a 2.1 from Huddersfield isn’t. I await the vitriol!

(12)(3)

Banta Claus

No vitriol – you’re perfectly right. Although I dare say that a Cam or Ox Desmond carries loads more weight than a Hirst from a toilet like Huddersfield.

Most of the top US firms don’t use automatic screening tools anyway, so you’d be in a good position. Screeners are only used by shytepits like DWF or IM.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

HogLove uses automatic screening, just FYI.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You might as well resit then since you’ve already paid and the knowledge is in your head, as someone said earlier

Do you have to tell people that you had to resit? If not, then it doesn’t matter that you failed first time as no one will know

To the people commenting that the application would be disregarded – why? If they get a distinction on the resit, then surely that shows merit although not as much as someone who got one first time round

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Resits are capped at pass, grade is irrelevant.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

Heh, aka the OP is screwed and tattooed.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Dear [name of client],

Sorry that I cocked up your hugely time sensitive and very expensive matter.

Don’t worry though. I won’t tell anybody about my first attempt and will try again soon, right after I write to LC and ask for their advice.

Kind regards,

Mr / Ms / Mrs Fail [delete as appropriate]

(13)(0)

45th Banter Commando

Savage bantz bruh, 10 alpha points outta 10.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Mocking other people’s academic ability is more acceptable when your own post is riddled with typos, fucknuts.

(1)(1)

Trumpenführer

Heh, plz complain more you betacuck.

(1)(0)

Quo Vadis

‘Dire straits’, shurely?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I would seriously reassess your position and ask yourself some questions, including:

Why did you fail your exams? Were there extra reasons for why you did poorly, such as stress, mental health, family, friends etc. that caused you to fail? If you genuinely tried your best, then where did you go wrong?

Why have you chosen this as a career choice? What drove you to become Solicitor? Have you simply going through the motions, or have you had a desire to go down this route for a while? If it’s the former, I would recommend taking some time off to reassess your future plans and to figure out what you actually want. There’s no shame in doing that – the majority of us often change our plans because they didn’t go as we expected, so it’s better for you in the long run to assess your options.

Finally, I would recommend that you find a career adviser, perhaps on your LPC course, but also elsewhere if possible. You should talk through your options and consider whether you should resit or try your hand at something. In any case, I would seriously advise you take some time off before retrying – it will help you to relax and get that clarity of thought that you seem to require. All the best for the future! Remember that it’s not the end of the world – there’s plenty of options out there for you even if it’s not being a Solicitor.

(5)(2)

anon-mouse

My honest opinion would be to definitely, definitely carry on. You MUST retake thee email exams. Stay calm. Stay positive.

This means you have failed 3/ 4 exams of the gdl in your first (part time) year – retake them and pass, it’s do-able. Lots of people who do the gdl full time fail more exams than that (5 or 6) retake and still get through.

Explain your situation to tutors and get as much help as possible on how to prepare properly this time round. This is essential. They can give you advice / pointers on things that never even occurred to you.

Going forward: you need to make sure that you pass the second years gdl exams. ABOVE ALL: make sure you get a high score on the LPC!!!!

career advice: I know 5 people who got a bare pass on the GDL. They were scared by this, were very focused and worked very very hard and went on to absolutely ace the LPC. They got tcs in London offices of excellent regional firms : 55 – 70k starting salary.

I also know one girl who got a pass on the gdl but a distinction on the bptc. She got a pupillage, tenancy and now editorship of a tort law academic journal alongside her practice as a barrister.

its not too late to get a handle on the situation, you must stay calm and focused on the work itself. It’s definitely do-able.

(11)(6)

Anonymous

A distinction on the BPTC?… no such grade exists, much like this girl you ‘know’.

Stop giving false hope to those that should spend tens of thousand of pounds trying to get into a career that they are ultimately not suited for.

(13)(2)

anon-mouse

She does exist.

My mistake – I did the LAW, so I’m not up to speed with the formal jargon on how the BPTC. But she got some of the highest marks in the country for the criminal and civil papers and she played key roles on her student committee at her Inn.

I am telling the truth.

(5)(5)

Top kek

Lelz, you’re such a bantasaurus bruh, haven’t laughted this hard in ages. *sharts*

(4)(0)

You for real bro?

‘Excellent regional firms – £55k-£70k starting salary’

Please, o wise one, do tell me more of these mysterious, wonderful firms you speak about.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Reading your comment tells me English is definitely not your first language.

(4)(0)

Caligula the weasel

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(2)(2)

anon

You truly are a weasel

(0)(0)

Caligula the weasel

Lolololol I kno rite

(0)(0)

Harvey

Typical LC censorship. What on Earth was wrong with that comment?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Thank you all for the replies. I have done a lot of soul searching since failing. The reason that I have failed them all is that I took up law for all the wrong reasons. The school over sold and I feel wasn’t totally transparent about the career choice. I also did not do enough research until after enrolling. Lastly there was pressure from my partner to study law. It was destined to be a train wreck. But that’s ok. Now I’m back to doing what I really like and know about and I’m actually relieved and quite happy if I’m honest, to just wash my hands of this whole chapter in my life. Allswell that ends well!

(21)(3)

Top kek

Sucks to be you lolololololol

(4)(6)

Not Amused (fake)

Heh, blows up one’s exams, blames it on uni.

Typical.

(1)(5)

Anonymous

By the way, to anyone starting the GDL – don’t bother with any of the thick, wordy textbooks. You only need to know each case and provision of legislation in a sentence, two at most. Oxford University Press Concentrate series is a lifesaver.

(1)(8)

Anonymous

I would not take advice from someone that has failed all the exams for the GDL…

OUP clearly not as good as you make it out to be.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

I’m not the person who wrote the letter. I got a distinction. Using this method.

(2)(2)

Not Amused (fake)

OUP’s representatives have infiltrated LC.

(1)(1)

Chazza

Not even that, just drill out all the pass papers, make sure you do them in as much detail as possible like an exam. That’s literally all I did and I got a Distinction, easy.

(2)(0)

Chazza

*past papers.

Soz, too much blow.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

There’s always the CPS.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I would not wish that fate on anyone…

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I’m doing a training contract with amid-size law firm (they mainly do corporate work), but I would love to work for the CPS. I think it would be my ideal law job, seriously. They rejected me twice for a training contract, sad times…

(0)(1)

Philip Green's yacht

Is Lord Grabiner of one Essex Court and the BHS scandal not a legal story today?

(1)(0)

BHS pants

Surely Grabiner saw something in the multibillionaire Philip Green that nobody else did?

(1)(0)

I am not a patsy

One Essex Court won’t the only ones helping themselves to the BHS millions

(0)(0)

Lord Grabafee

weren’t not won’t, have you been on the Green champers?

(0)(0)

Bantz & Co

Heh, you’re fucked.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

No.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

WHY AM I READING THE COMMENT SECTION?

(8)(0)

Banter Bus Ltd.

‘Cos it’s full of high-octane, supercharged bantz. Always savage, so worth it.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Nice work LC! Just go ahead and raise further attention to a question everyone already knows the answer to, so you can let kids publicly crush someone’s confidence…

(0)(0)

Caligula the weasel

I kno rite, LC loves to do that, it’s soooo fun!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

GDLs and LPCs are given away with toilet paper now. Luckily the good firms are still able to choose the better people by other methods. I.e. Did you go to Oxford or Cambridge (or lesser Russell Group Universities)?

(3)(5)

LPC graduate

Hear hear. Although surveying the LPC results this summer, it seemed to me that there’s still a solid 25% fail rate, and another 15-20% of candidates get Distinctions. The remainder float between mostly Commendations and Passes.

It’s pretty obvious who’s got TC-sponsored places in these lists…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Top up your GDL with a dissertation to get a backdoor LLM.

Then brag about your Masters to deflect attention from your GDL.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

U high?

(3)(0)

Qualified and Entertained

Getting anything other than a distinction on the GDL/LPC is frankly humiliating.

(1)(10)

Tairy Hesticles

Hear hear, especially the LPC. Even Bonzo the circus chimpanzee could do well on that course.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

I scraped a pass on both and still got bs tc, u mad?

(0)(2)

Epic fail

BS? Brown…Sauce?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I think you should look at why you failed all the exams. If you simply didn’t have any time to study, then it’s fair enough but doesn’t say a great deal about your time management skills. If you failed them despite working hard, then you should have a good think about whether the career is for you, as to be honest it doesn’t get much easier.

If you’re dead set on law as a career, then getting a paralegal job and showing graft will be worth far more than crap GDL grades, however be aware that it’s very unlikely that you’ll get a TC straight off the bat on the basis that most firms treat grades as a forgone conclusion.

If you decide to jack it in, then think about what your skills suit and what you enjoy, then look into those options. You’ll likely find that you’ll be far happier and successful in a job which suits your interests and skills, rather than forcing yourself to do a job which will be an uphill struggle.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Have you considered CILEX? Having said that, you are overqualified.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

i like turtles

(1)(0)

Olswang £10M

Join Grabiner at his One Essex Court firm to work on dodgy BHS deals?

(1)(0)

Lord Grabafee

Why would anyone work at One Essex Court or Olswang after the BHS scandal?

(0)(0)

anon

2:35 for the dodgy deals?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Sensible girl – asking career advice of how to become a lawyer that is edited solely by failed wannabe lawyers.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.