Low grades caused by health problems, what will law firms think?

I’m back on track now but worried the damage has already been done

health

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one training contract-seeker — whose legal education has been blighted by health problems — mulls over her solicitor dreams.

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I want to know if there is any real chance of me securing a training contract with my education history. While I was doing my A-levels, I developed some health problems. I was fainting more than ten times a day, very tired and struggling to breathe often. My sixth form was very unhelpful and dismissive. I understandably withdrew, embarrassed, and continued my education at home, entirely self taught. I sat my exams at home and got mediocre A-level grades (ABB)…

This did get me into a Russell Group university, and at the end of my first term of second year, it emerged that I actually had a heart condition caused by an underlying autoimmune disease. I was put on various meds and my ability to attend university/keep up with my work reflected in my grades — I improved from a 2:2 average to a 2:1 average. I am currently doing a year abroad, and gaining 80%+ in exams…

I will be going into my final year when I go back and I am reluctant to apply to sit the LPC if I will be unable to pursue a solicitor career. I am afraid that my low grades from first year and the first half of second year will hold me back, but I’m looking to graduate with a 2:1. I am not necessarily aiming for big City firms — I would be happy to take a low paid job — but I would like to pursue a career in law.

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

60 Comments

Alpha dick

They’ll think you’re far too beta for BigLaw. Sorry brah, survival of the fittest.

(45)(20)
Anonymous

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

(0)(0)
Anonymous

Any male solicitor that thinks he is an “alpha” must be having a laugh.

(1)(0)
nailedit

I was born with quite short legs but I’d quite like to be an Olympic sprinter. I have a 20 second 100m time, but hoping to get that down. Do you reckon I have a shot at the Olympics? Be honest pls.

(16)(33)
Anonymous

me next me next, I really want to be a MI6 Russian-English translator but i dont know any Russian is this a problem dont be afraid to be harsh and tell me straight. I could be a syp instead but im a total fucking idiot will that harm my chances?

(2)(9)
Anonymous

Spy* sorry also no spelling ability, but I have applied to work at Collins and OUP so hopefulli all up to scratch by then

(2)(1)
cheerios

I wanted to be a pilot but I have -5.75 vision in both eyes, so they said “know”. I corrected them and told them it was “no”. Turns out both words sound the same. Bet they felt silly.

(9)(16)
Anonymous

I think you should have a good chance. You haven’t mentioned work experience, but that should be just as important as grades so maybe focus on that?
If you are not sure, why not get some paralegal work before applying for LPC? That will give you relevant experience and the potential to build up good contacts.

(14)(1)
arguingwithidiotsontheinternet

I think rainbows have arms. Thinking is great.

Hypotheticals are a load of nonsense. All the kid can do is apply. See what happens. The metrics firms apply are A-level grades, module grades at university; some firms may consider the health condition, but at the end of the day if it’s brought on by stress, why not choose something else? Who knows if there will be a relapse. And also city firms are heavily oversubscribed – chances are c. 1 in 15-80ish and the vast majority applicants are realistic i.e. have the required A-levels and grades. So you are saying firms will recruit lower grades over higher grades on the basis of a health condition alone…which is ofc possible but not necessarily likely.

High street or regional firms which largely recruit on likeability might very well pick the kid up. But there are better careers out there.

(6)(0)
Anonymous

LOL this is a joke right?! Other than health issues, I haven’t seen one negative academic issue here that firms will say a straight NO to! As & Bs at Alevel, above average 2.1 at RG. Just get some career/academic advice via law school or social mobility groups and keep it moving. Only you are stopping yourself at this moment.

(47)(3)
Anonymous

There are other routes into law, and other legal careers apart from being a solicitor. There are also plenty of organisations which can help you. LawCare provides emotional support for the entire legal community, including students, so consider giving the free and confidential helpline a call on 0800 279 6888 to work through your options.

(2)(2)
Elena

Don’t listen the the ridiculous comments above. You have got a diagnosis now and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get q training contract. Some city partners are disabled fgs. Cut it with the negativity Legal Cheek commenters.

(17)(11)
MC (donalds) trainee

If you can provide evidence (to the firm) of your medical condition, and that you have improved, then it shouldn’t be a barrier. Nevertheless, you will have to build up a stronger CV, as a 2.1 alone won’t cut it. The year abroad helps, though 80% isn’t anything special (I don’t think I know anyone who didn’t come back with grades in the 90s when doing their year abroad). Volunteer, extra-curric, part time work, internships, open days etc

Anyway, my usual advice would apply:
>If you want to do city law, then don’t apply to do the LPC. The firms will fund you through it if they want you, and the LPC itself isn’t seen as an advantage at application. If you do the LPC on your own terms then the best scenario is that you receive an offer from a firm that will reimburse you. If that occurs you will still be paying the interest on any loan you have taken, and will only receive an adjusted maintenance grant. The worst case scenario is that you don’t get a TC and are left with a fairly useless qualification and a hefty loan to repay. If you don’t self fund you can use your time to widen your CV and earn money. Obviously the disadvantage is that you have to wait an extra year, but lets face it, you’ll probably have to do that with most city firms anyway.
> If you want to work for a smaller firm then its a little more complicated as below regional level you won’t (usually) get funding for the LPC. At that stage it becomes more about how comfortable you are with risk. I would suggest doing some legwork before putting down any money: Speak to the types of firm you want to work for, provide them with your CV, get feedback.

(7)(3)
JH

What is often ignored is that the LPC is helpful when it comes to Assessment Days e.g. case studies, drafting, commercial awareness.

I say that as someone who got a TC before the LPC.

(3)(3)
MC (donalds) trainee

I’m not so sure it is as useful as some people think. The big firms tend to recruit for potential, not for current ability/polish. A firm will be looking at an individual and asking “what will this person be like once they have completed the LPC (and GDL if necessary) and started training with us? What will we be able to turn them into?” For that reason the expectations will be different between a non-law undergrad, a law undergrad, and an LPC student. So whilst your skill set may have been improved in comparison to other people in the application process, the bar has been raised as well.

(2)(1)
Anonymous

yeah not £17,000 worth of useful may as well spend 10% of that on private coaching if thats the reason you want to run headfirst onto the LPC

(1)(0)
DWF NQ

Your grades shouldn’t affect your chances but your whiny betaness will

(8)(10)
Anonymous

DO NOT do the LPC unless you have a TC!! It is a complete waste of money and stands you in no better stead. A lot of law firms actually look down upon GDL/LPC graduates as unwise or rejects of other firms (most presume you had to self-fund as you couldn’t get a TC before).

Your grades are absolutely fine and so long as you explain your mitigating circumstances and put a positive spin on them as far as possible then you can do very well.

Just don’t do the LPC beforehand…

(16)(2)
US Trainee

“A lot of law firms actually look down upon GDL/LPC graduates as unwise or rejects of other firms (most presume you had to self-fund as you couldn’t get a TC before.”

That’s really not true though… I remember from my GDL intake that 15/20 odd out of 35 who were self funding obtained TCs at City firms, including myself.

(1)(3)
Anonymous

That means 20/15 people didn’t get TCs after throwing £10,000-£15,000 down the drain. If you’re good enough to get a TC then you’ll get one without having to do the GDL/LPC first. It’s really a no brainer.

(1)(0)
TopCat

This is the worst advice.

I self funded and am now qualified. I also have a 2:2 and no alevels. You can absolutely do what you want, you just have to go and make it happen and don’t give up.

Sure it’s competitive but if you don’t try how will you ever know?

(2)(0)
Anonymous

I think the comment said don’t do the LPC if you don’t have a TC, not don’t try to get TC. Well done on making it through but you could have saved yourself a lot of money if you got a law firm to sponsor you through the LPC and avoided entirely unnecessary costs. Commercial awareness, brah.

(0)(1)
Misanthrope

Why are most of comments on here obnoxious? Not even the funny type of obnoxious, but plain rude.

(23)(6)
Lilith Blackfriars

I bagged a top first class in a leading Russell Group Uni and my dream is to work in a Magic Golden Circle firm. The only problem is I suffer from recurrent bouts of bubonic plague . Do you think this will affect my chances?

(9)(10)
Anonymous

No! Ive got no arms legs or brain, I rely on ventilators and robotic limbs but I rake in a killing doing document review for Irwin Mitchell. Never let the odds beat you, anyone at all can do any job ever if they just believe in themselves and work as very very hard as they can (or at least notionally in any event -just say you have worked hard enough times and it will basically come true)

(9)(0)
Mr Brain

I’m just a brain in a jar linked to the Internet.

Do I stand a chance of getting a City TC with a Desmond from London Met due to extenuating circumstances?

(4)(0)
Anonymous

I would also advise against doing the LPC without a training contract because it doesn’t make you more attractive to firms. It does allow you to get paralegal experience which is a decent way of getting a training contract but it’s long-winded, isn’t necessary and isn’t – I am told – very pleasant.

I was recently interviewed for a TC and I specifically asked them about whether having the LPC made you more attractive. The partners seemed surprised that I thought it might have done. In fairness, this particular firm was quite well resourced (approximately medium-sized).

As far as the medical condition goes – a 2:1 isn’t prohibitive and a 2:1 with serious mitigating circumstances is no weaker than a 1st, I would wager.

(2)(0)
Marcus

Students club help students with disabilities get into magic circle firms via an alternative route…

(0)(1)
Anonymous

It’s more than doable. I have a TC offer at a really good regional firm with ABB and a 2:2 (I too had a serious medical condition which wasn’t officially diagnosed until it was too late). I just gained paralegal experience straight after uni and waited to apply for my LPC until the year after. And took care to explain my circumstances to firms I applied to- but without whining to avoid coming across like someone just making excuses for poor performance.

(2)(0)
Mr Been-there

Sadly, a lot of firms like the “triumph in the face of adversity” story (ie success DESPITE health problems) rather than “I could have done better but I got ill…”

I speak as someone who managed straight A grades despite surgery and radiotherapy for a massive tumour during my A-levels…

That said, I wouldn’t call ABB “mediocre” at all. You’ll still get a TC or pupillage with those and a 2:1, unless you simply MUST go for the Magic Circle/ other top commercial firms.

(2)(2)
Bored trainee

Why do you even want to be a solicitor? It’s really boring.

(6)(1)
Anonymous

Someone who self-taught themselves and obtained ABB is probably going to look more favourably than someone who obtained AAA at some expensive private school, particularly if the firm in question uses one of the contextualised recruitment systems.

But like all applicants, having a good chance of securing a vac scheme or TC is not down to academics alone. You will need all the other evidence (work experience, extra curriculars, clear career motivation) and if you have a lot of this varied evidence, if there was any issue about your academics it would soon become diluted, especially considering there are mitigating circumstances.

(1)(0)
Anonymous

… who then look less favourable than the 58 state school applicants who have A*A*A* – they do exist you know

(2)(1)
Dark Silencer

Some of the best grads don’t get TC’s, some choose other career paths in the end. Everything’s a risk and there is no guarantee of anything. Do the LPC, good advice is get a TC before you do the LPC. But don’t give up based on chances, because one day you might just regret not doing it. Good luck.

(0)(0)
Pongobulb

I hear ALL of Irwin Mitchell and DWF are taking action, in the hope they get employed by a Top city firm.

(3)(0)
Anonymous

Trainee solicitor here who has heart disease and is currently writing this after another surgery. I felt the same as you and the only tip is you have to be realistic if you have health problems then I do not think the city is for you. Least that’s what I decided I did a weeks works experience in a city firm and by the end of it I was so unwell. I decided rhat I wanted to be a lawyer but I would be realistic. I applied to my local firms and I’m now in my training contract for a high street firm and I love it ! Ok I don’t earn much but I’m happy they understand my health problems and it’s much for laid back than a city firm. I would honestly advise to look at local firms. Also use your health condition to your advantage I was worried my problems would put people off but actually I’ve gone through much more than most people have in a lifetime I spoke about how having open heart surgery at school and uni affected me and how it made me determined to succeed I also think it shows that I’m resilient and hard working (or I tried to make that come across in my interview) being sick will not stop you being a solicitor but be sensible where you apply if you don’t have your health you have nothing. There’s no point applying to city firms who will be expecting you to work 6 days a week 14 hour days when you physically can’t do It

(4)(0)
Anonymous

Lots of bitter, failed wannabe-lawyers on legal cheek today.
You’ve got good grades, and you even have legitimate medical reasons for why you haven’t achieved straight A’s/1st. You’ll get there if you put your mind to it.

(3)(2)
Riot Club

The oldest lie in the book. There’s no such thing as ‘getting there if you put your mind to it’. The City’s tightly held by a few chosen ones and we hold the keys.

Sorry.

(1)(2)
Adam

It’s true. Occasionally they let one of the proles in like me just so they can’t be accused of institutional prejudice, but generally it’s a closed shop that chooses people in its own image.

That being said, if you can produce documentation of a genuine medical problem, and you still go on to achieve a good 2:1 in the period after illness, you should get there eventually.

I have a load of 2:2s in my first year, and went to a non-RG and got into a reasonably good commercial outfit in the City.

Make sure to check the profiles of the trainees at the firm currently before wasting your time applying.

Generally apply to places where there are people that are like you. They got there because they were selected and is always good evidence of what a firm is genuinely looking for.

(2)(1)
Martin McFly

If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!

(0)(0)
Anonymous

Except change circumstances brought about by laziness like getting a 2:1 or failing a levels

(0)(0)
Anonymous

I was in a similar position to you, having scored a third in my first year at a top 10 uni, and a low 2:2 in my second due to then-undiagnosed health issues. I managed to pull it up to a 2:1 in my final year, and explained the issues at length when applying for a training contract. By the time of my TC, I was able to manage my issues – my TC went exceedingly well and I am now several years qualified at a top City firm (by anyone’s definition).

I would recommend looking into firms’ approaches to disability/health/diversity etc. when applying, as this will give you an indication as to how seriously they take getting the best lawyers (and not just the usual cookie-cutter types). Drop the trainee HR contact an email in advance of applying to flag your circumstances, too.

I would strongly recommend NOT doing the LPC without a TC in hand. Far better to get some work experience (doesn’t have to be in law!) and do the LPC once you know it’ll be paid for.

(1)(0)

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