Advice

Will disappointing module results stop me getting a magic circle training contract?

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Oxbridge second year in 2:2 quandary

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one Oxbridge law student has concerns that two disappointing module results will prevent her from landing a training contract at a magic circle or US firm.

areer

I was wondering whether I could receive some advice about applying for vac schemes and training contracts. I will soon be a second year Oxbridge law student and I received a 2:1 overall for my first year exams but I got 2:2 grades in two modules. I had no exceptional circumstances. Is there even a chance of me getting into a magic circle or a major US law firm? Would it be tactically better to not apply at all this year and bring my grades up for second year, then apply in third year?

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

72 Comments

Anon

I think you might be overthinking it

(37)(0)

Courting Clerk

Your legal career is over.

(32)(3)

Anonymous

Yep, you’re pretty much screwed.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

Sure, why does she believe she can bring up her grades?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

‘I went to Oxford and therefore I deserve a training contract with an MC firm end of’..

Typical

(54)(5)

Anonymous

She does deserve one. They’re really the only two world class universities in the UK.

(21)(53)

Anonymous

Yes, you have to keep saying this don’t you. You all have to believe this otherwise the whole facade would crash down…

(24)(11)

Anonymous

It’s fine mate, Bristol IS really good

(17)(5)

Anonymous

the rest of the population are idiots I suppose

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Getting into Oxbridge is a fluke and everyone knows it.

(6)(5)

Anonymous

don’t worry about it mate, show them it doesn’t matter!!!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You’ll end up at somewhere like CMS. Have a nice life.

(21)(4)

Anonymous

You are absolutely fine.

Everyone gets the occasional Desmond.

The prestige of your University will make up for this. To mitigate this as much as possible I’d recommend doing some significant non law extra curriculars and making sure your commercial awareness is on point! X

(38)(2)

Anonymous

Kind comments like this can really change a student!

(14)(2)

Anonymous

Now I feel bad for making a nasty comment. This comment in reaction to the nice comment has changed an associate for the worse.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Utter failure.

(17)(2)

Anonymous

If the requirements of the firms you want to join are 2.1 degree overall, you’re likely to be ok. However, if you go up against people with 1st class degrees (which is likely given you want magic circle), expect a tough ride notwithstanding your university.

If I were you I’d work doubly hard to bring up your overall grade and undertake as much commercial legal work experience as possible.

In summary, I doubt one or two 2.2 result would harm you too much per se, but don’t think an average 2.1 from Oxbridge alone will be enough to walk into a City Firm.

(5)(8)

MCtrainee

I’m at S&M. Be serious, the MC isn’t filled with first class graduates. This isn’t the commercial bar. A 2.1 from Oxford is more than adequate.

(28)(1)

Anonymous

Same but I’m at Links. Really not that many of my cohort have Oxbridge firsts, maybe 4 or 5? They’re obviously interested in grades, but if you have strong social skills, extra curriculars and commercial awareness as an RG 2.1 graduate you’re far more likely to get into the MC than an Oxbridge first with none of the above.

(16)(0)

S&M

Absolutely. City law isn’t hugely intellectually taxing, particularly transactional work at the junior end (it mainly involves being able to spot typos, stay awake and keep churning documents).

(11)(1)

US Firm Trainee

Even at a US firm like mine most people got decent 2:1s (even the oxbridge lot) so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a couple of 2:2s sprinkled in the module breakdown (I know I have a few and I didn’t even go to a Top 40 uni). So no, it’s not impossible. Just might need to offset it with some other stellar attributes.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Enjoy working at Freeths.

(12)(0)

Eager DWF future trainee, top City firm

Harsh. DWF on the other hand, wot a firm!!!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

No. I got a 2.2 overall in 1st year and 2.2/2.1 in 2nd year (I studied in Scotland, so my LLB was four years). I still got interviewed at magic circle firms. It’s first year, you’re 18, unless you’ve utterly bombed the course it doesn’t really matter.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

But did you get accepted anywhere?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

not a MC firm but a City firm nonetheless. I got a 1st the last two years of my degree, though.

(0)(0)

Inquisitor

You studied in Scotland- so Scots law. City firm could only mean DWF in Scotland (and it has another office which is in the City). Unless by City you are literally meaning a firm in a city.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

yeah and I’m not stupid. I mean, a firm in the City. Not DWF. If I wanted to work for DWF I would apply to their Edinburgh office and save myself a year of doing the GDL…

(0)(0)

Inquisitor

So you did a law degree that wasn’t a qualifying law degree for four years and then had to do the GDL. Rather than doing a 3 year qualifying law degree in England/Wales (negating the need for the GDL) or a 3 year geography degree anywhere else and then the GDL. Yes, you’re not stupid at all.

(1)(16)

Anonymous

I studied a Scots law degree to be near my parents because I went to university when I was 16. Not stupid at all.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

and save tuition fees considering I when to university for free. xoxo

Inquisitor

Yes you did when there.

LegalRec

You are a total moron…Do you even know which firms have offices in Scotland now?

(1)(1)

Inquisitor

Key term “now” not when he was applying. LegalRec lol. How’s the next trainee social shaping up, are they getting nametags in Comic Sans or Arial- or are you really jazzing it up with Times New Roman?

People use big words here, I’d suggest going back to Hello or OK magazine so that you can pretend to be down with the kids at the next social rather than just a depository of Maltesers, crying to yourself in the corner how you get to hang out with the cool kids now- but you’re still not one of them, not really.

(1)(7)

Anonymous

I’m doing the GDL now fyi.

(0)(0)

LegalRec

Hah…Lol!! My “friend” I left S&M after 4 years for this role. I earn more than most US mid-level associates and I socialise with some of the most reputable Partners and GC’s in the city, and further afield. Your comment falls at my feet. Also…Mon-Fri 9-6.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Don’t spout without doing your research. Look up Dickson Minto for example…

(2)(0)

Eager DWF future trainee, top City firm

Sounds like a shyt firm. DWF is easily comparable to Freshfields in some departments.

(0)(1)

Inquisitor

I’d rather not have a dick mint actually. Do feel free though, just do it out of sight you pervert. Also seriously you put them on a par with DWF/ other national firms?! lol wut.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

LC please stop publishing these career conundrum articles. They are pure shite.

(26)(0)

Anonymous

Honestly mate, give up. Game over. One toe out of line in this game and you face the gallows.

Do yourself a favour and give up the MC/US dream. Off you pop to Ipswich old bean.

Regards,

Someone who NEVER got a 2.2

(13)(7)

Anonymous

You will need to look carefully at the application requirements for the firm you are seeking to join – some firms state a minimum 2.1 overall, others require a 2.1 on all modules undertaken (and they will look at the first year as well). If the latter applies, then don’t expend your energy applying to that firm as the polite decline after your efforts of completing the application will most likely upset. Focus on the firms where your chances of interview are greatest.

(2)(0)

NCtrainee

I assume you’re at Cambridge as Oxford only has 3 exams in first year, and they’re definitely not “modules”. Unlikely that two 2:2s would see you get a 2:1 overall, although probably not impossible.

You also suggest holding off until third year, bringing up grades in second year. Oxford has no second year exams, so must be Cambridge.

The reason I’ve set out the above is because if you were at Oxford, you really don’t have a chance to improve on your 2:2 until you’ve graduated. Applying for TCs after graduation seriously slows down your career progress, probably not starting the TC until 2 or 3 years after your final year.

If you were at Oxford, I would certainly say to carry on with MC applications but to definitely apply to medium and smaller sized firms. They can be just as hard to get into, but may not filter applications as much as some MC firms when it comes to bad module results. Hard to generalise, but that’s the best I can do here.

Better to get a TC at a top 50 girl than sit around waiting for a MC job offer for two years.

If at Cambridge, and you can bring grades up in second year, there’s no harm in applying this year – you can always try again next year. Maybe don’t apply to all of them, but I imagine that if you get filtered because of your grades it will happen at the application form stage, so HR is unlikely to notice you, let alone remember you.

You have a 2:1 though…..I think it’s unlikely that you’ll get rejected by all, If any actually, MC firms for having a few 2:2 modules in there – it’s only 1 year exams.

This is something that really irritates me about Oxford. Tutors, in particular older and more academic tutors, don’t understand the impact that bad 1st year grades can have. It can keep you out of work and set your career back by 2 years. The marking is often erratic and unpredictable, because for the tutors it’s not a big deal – results don’t count toward your final mark. The same goes for finals to an extent, though not as much. Frankly, the uni will always try and push you into the 2:1 bracket (not like first year exams where you can get a random 50 for no reason) , but there’s still a lack of appreciation that grades (e.g. 1st v 2:1 can have a massive impact on some people’s careers). I think that so many tutors have 1sts, very high 1sts at that, and so they don’t understand what it’s like slumming it in the world of 2:1s. High standards I guess.

(9)(1)

NCtrainee

Pretty appalling grammar and some errant words (e.g. “Girl” instead of “firm”). Soz

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Just a bunch of entitled whining is all I see. Stop blaming everyone else because you can’t do well on some modules. Just because you’re at Oxbridge does not mean you automatically deserve a 2:1 in everything. LOL

(1)(8)

S&M

Sorry but I don’t understand what your point. I was at Oxford and yes they do try to narrow the number of firsts – a first from Oxford is a serious qualification. I studied jurisprudence and definitely experienced that. But isn’t that to be expected? Besides what can you really not do with an Oxbridge 2.1 that you can with a first? Realistically, very little

(3)(0)

Informed

I went to Oxbridge and in my college 3 people got 2.2s in first year. They are at the following firms:

1. Clifford Chance.
2. Jones Day.
3. Ince & Co.

You’ll be fine – just make sure you get a 2.1 overall.

(10)(1)

Informed

For context, I studied there this decade.

(2)(0)

Eager DWF future trainee, top City firm

Hah, three shyte firms. Lolz

(0)(4)

Anonymous

The fact that you would ask Legal Cheek a question like this and in doing so demonstrate poor judgement and a highly unwarranted level of self doubt is more of a hurdle for you towards joining a high caliber firm.

Your grades are good and you’re at a great uni. Only thing holding you back is your own doubt.

(7)(2)

Future US Trainee

I obtained 2:2 results in a number of my first year modules (even a 3rd in two). Overall I ended up with a 2:2 in my first year.

First year didn’t count towards my overall degree result, which actually ended up being a first.

I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Did you go to Cambridge like the student in the article?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Lol what are you all on about, all you need is a 2:1 in ur contract first year, they could give 2 ***ts if you got a 2:2 on crim 🙌🏻

(3)(0)

Anonymous

You will never get anywhere in life. Grades are EVERYTHING.

2.2 = a career of chasing ambulances in some shit hole regional outpost.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

Shit hole? Manchester is really nice. I wouldn’t mind working there, although for a TC you really should aim for City.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I was joking you div.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t believe you. I’m triggered and need a safe space.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Wrong, training with a reputable firm in the North won’t prejudice you – you’ll likely get more client contact than in the City for one.

(2)(0)

PhilH

Have a bit more life ambition than enslaving yourself to the MC time sheet/billable hour culture. It’s a hamster wheel.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

This is the best advice. Become an organic beekeeper or a hipster trendsetter or a porn star or a pianist or something fun.

(3)(0)

Living the dream

Or all of the above.

(1)(0)

Johnny Wadd

Yeah buddy!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

If the 2.2s are in contract and tort, then it will be more difficult for some of the top firms than if the 2.2s were in the “admin” type modules.

But it depends on the strength of the rest of your application. Screw up elsewhere, or have a lack of evidence in other aspects they assess and you will have already used up your chance on the 2 x 2.2s.

(0)(0)

Waterspott

Magic Circle, US law firms or whatever, they are screwed, not you! Do your own thang. Study harder, party even harder but remember that these law firms are not really the best for starting a legal career. Look for smaller, more compact family run law firms where you will cut your teeth in a niche area. You are more likely to become more grounded, and an expert practitioner in a particular area of law than with these US and city law firms that pay £45k upwards to a trainee but will work you like chickens in Tweed’s farm.

(1)(5)

LL and P

What an excellent comment! Forget corporate law in a big firm, work in a high street firm in Derby and specialise in a niche area that will open up the opportunity for you to work in other high street firms in other crap towns in England. Forget niche areas like IP, asset finance, ship finance, aviation law, public international law and white collar crime; much better to work on small boundary disputes between people who live next door to each other or disputes over wills. I’ve heard residential conveyancing is also quite niche.
Working in a small family run firm is excellent, particularly if you are not a member of that family. It will be a joy.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Life exists outside of London, you moron.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Fake LC question again -normally rolled out on a slow news day.

As for the question, you’ll be ok. Not like you’ll end up doing the ILEX route.

(2)(0)

Cantab

I graduated from Cambridge in 2014 – of the 14 papers I did over the course of the three years I got a 2.ii in seven of those with a 2.ii overall in my second year. Did not hinder me getting through the filters / to interviews. Very much coming to the end of my TC at a UK firm.

Similarly, a friend of mine also graduated with a 2.ii overall in his second year – he is at one of the US firms that pay a lot (annoyingly a lot more than where I work).

(2)(0)

Anon

Were you ever questioned about your grades at interview?

(0)(0)

Cantab

They did – described as the “elephant in the room” but I was honest and said I didn’t work particularly hard and that in any event I had a fun year and got it out of my system.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Throw out a few applications now. Go for some silver circle or mid-tier US firms to test the water. Doesn’t hurt to try.

(0)(0)

The Cambridge Law Faculty is Ugly

Meh

Oxbridge helps, but it won’t save you young child

The rest of your application might

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.