‘Will my first class degree help repair the damage caused by my atrocious A-Levels?’

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I’m desperate to become a sports lawyer

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring sports lawyer wants to know if his first class undergraduate result will help repair the damage caused by his “atrocious” A-Levels.

“I recently started the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) course immediately after graduating with a first class honours and an academic prize for my dissertation. I have also been awarded a scholarship for academic excellence from my law school.

I really didn’t have any idea about the entire vac scheme and training contract process until I first submitted my application for the GDL late in my final year of my undergrad. I’m now applying for vac schemes and training contracts and there’s a huge problem which I hadn’t appreciated.

My A-Levels. To put it frankly they are atrocious. I’m desperate to work in a London firm that practises sports law but don’t think I would even get past the application stage for 95% of the firms. I have worked for the last four years at uni to nullify my A-Levels with a good degree.

Am I wasting my time applying to these firms and if not, any advice to get my foot in the door? Any help would be appreciated.”

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Probably. Actually, I dunno. Pint?






Before the useless comments come in, the simple answer is NO if you wish to work in the City



Especially if the “first” is from somewhere crap, since that is basically a 2.1 in old money.



Sorry a first is 1:1 whilst 2:1 is upper second and 2:2 is lower second. Anything below a 2:2 is a pass degree without Honors.


Third Class Degree

Are you sure pal?



Bless, Shah, misses the point completely.



Hard to advise without knowing what your degree is in, the standard of university you went to, what type of firm you’re applying to (ie City or regional) etc


The Least Qualified

Majority of firms require minimum a level requirements, doesn’t mean you can’t get into a firm specialising in sports law. Just focus your energy on a firm that doesn’t require minimum a level grades, or attend networking events and explain your situation – a good rapport with grad rec goes a long way


Not a lawyer

If you had any mitigating circumstances, and you spin them well, then chances are they’ll overlook your A-levels. It’s a lot about how you sell yourself and your achievements past A-levels that’ll matter more, although it does depend on other factors such as which university you went to and what degree you actually did. Apply anyway- you’ll miss 100% of all chances that you don’t apply to. Who knows, maybe they’ll see past your grades anyway!


City lawyer

Always worth picking up the phone to the recruitment team at the firms that you would like to apply to. Ask them if they have a minimum requirement and if they may be willing to waive it. This will help ensure that you don’t waste your time on an application that will be immediately binned. You can do this on a no-name basis so as not to prejudice your application. However, if you develop a rapport with the person on the other end of the phone, it may be beneficial to disclose your identity, so that they will keep an eye out for your application when it comes in.


Martin Routh

As so often with the career articles, the most relevant pieces of information.

Firstly, and most importantly, you don’t identify the university. If it’s a first from Oxford, then you’re probably in with a shout. If it’s a first from Greenwich, then you are likely to face significant challenges. All you say is that it’s a “good” degree, which is relative. A first from Greenwich would not be regarded as a “good” degree by a smart firm doing sport law.

Secondly, you don’t say how bad your A levels were or what they were in. If they were in maths, economics and physics and you got BBC, then combined with a “good” degree (see above), you’re potentially at the races. If it’s media studies, PE, and RE and you got EEE then that’s a bit different.


Martin Routh

…most relevant pieces of information *are missing*, should have said.



A bit like your comments


Herbert's Mother

Good God Herbert, I told you to stop using that horrifying language. Go to your room!


Archibald Pomp O'City

Nobody cares, so shut up.


Regionally trained - US 2PQE associate

Speak to grad..

Your vac scheme/TC application will be read by a member of the grad team. Go to law fairs/open days. Have a frank, structured conversation with them explaining your circumstances. Structured meaning, a flowing, smooth and well articulated ‘pitch’ detailing your circumstances. I recall as a trainee, when attending law fairs, nothing was more cringe-worthy and frustrating than students who stuttered through their conversations with us/grad. Think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it.

I’m going on the assumption you didn’t attend a ‘Russell Group’ uni based on your A levels – that said, a first class from a poly/met may land you a TC in a strong national firm. Its a case of completing the TC and then making a lateral move on qualification.

The first step is securing one, and that comes through building a rapport with grad teams – forget the partners, they wont remember you. Its grads job to pick out impressive candidates – impress them, and despite your A levels, you’ll be fine.

Also – ignore the sh*te from the jumped up second year undergrads on this (and other) threads – as I’ve said before, they don’t have the faintest clue how the market works..



Depending on what you consider ‘bad’ since the Russel group university I’m at offers foundation years with grade requirements for BBC.



City will be tough. Regions/ high street etc, not so much…



A guy on my GDL couldn’t get past most firms’ A Level filters even with a Russell Group degree.

He set himself up in NYC and now owns a couple of popular cocktail bars.

I don’t think he wishes he was practicing sports law.



Pics of it didnt happen.



It depends how atrocious your A-levels are. Mine were average but nowhere near the standard that city firms expect. However, I attended a Russell Group uni and achieved a high 2:1 and I managed to get a TC straight after the GDL. I work in media law, which like sports law, is quite niche. Your best bet would be to look at qualifying in-house or for a smaller boutique firm where they value experience over results and starting as a paralegal to prove yourself. Especially if you can demonstrate a good knowledge of sports in a commercial sense. It will be harder, but you can definitely do it. Form experience, attending a Russell Group uni is mroe important than your A-level results but that might just be my experience.



Firms the firms you want to work for; email them and ask them what their position is. Some are not that prescriptive, but if you’re keen on being a sports lawyer which doesn’t really narrow much down, but I’m assuming you want to work with regulatory work, you can count the number of firms that specialise in this on one hand in London.



On applications I see, short answer “Yes”. Unless mayeb you played sport for England or won a national debating competition what you did at school means nothing.



Imagine being “desperate to become a sports lawyer”. I can understand being desperate for a beer, or desperate for a shag, but a sports lawyer? Lol.



You “conveniently” left out the most important info which is the name of your uni.



A 1st from a crap uni is really a 2:1 at best. Given the uni was not mention and the subject matter of the question, we can assume this “first” came from somewhere that probably could hand out a real 1st one every few years.



I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time on any firm that has an online application process. Often, the software filters out any applicants by grades before they are even read by a human being, so if you don’t hit the requirements, no one will ever even look at your answers to the long-form questions.



Nonsense. I have fairly average Highers (from Scotland, no Advanced Highers) and work in the Magic Circle.



In the post room. He uses the “Magic Circle” line with the ladies, and often leaves his lanyard dangling in the pub. But they see through it with his suit with man made fibres, cheap watch and shoes.



So, in summary:

1. You didn’t do well in your A levels (although we don’t know subjects/grades)
2. You got a first (although we don’t know your Uni)
3. You say you want to be a sports lawyer (but you don’t say what in particular attracts you to this area)
4. You splurged £8k+ making the leap to a career without researching it first.

I think you are very naive if you think your First will overcome all that.

Having said that: for god sake do some research into the firms that work in the area and get a clue about the reality of the work, and the firms that do it. In a niche world you are unlikely to get ahead without niche contacts, and without amazing networking skills. What makes you think you have what it takes above and beyond the usual football/rugby/cricket fan that would make any firm look at you?

You have a long way to go.


Average Joe

As a person with average GCSE’s, A-Levels and a 2.2 degree from a mid-range uni who is now practicing in the field I wanted, I’d say no, but it may be a lot harder than if you had good A-Levels particularly if you want to focus on sports law. It may also take longer than expected.

I would advise you to look at the different elements that make up ‘sports law’; IP rights, commercial, media, etc. and try to focus on improving these elements on your CV, before or after qualifying. You can then build up to a sports role over your career rather than qualify into it.

Or you could hang out around Sunday League pitches and try to sign up some young player who is “going places” and become their agent. Then, who cares if you’re qualified, you’ll be a millionaire.



Gcse in english – level 2 equivalent in english key skills. A levels in law. Prior to studying a degree programme. To do a degree to be eligible, you have to higher education. Access programme.


Archibald Pomp O'City

Try learning how to spell.



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