Will my BTEC stop me getting a training contract with a top firm?

By on

‘Any help would be appreciated’

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring lawyer is concerend his BTEC will prevent him securing a training contract with a “top firm”.

“Hi. I want to start by saying I’m kind of stuck in a weird situation. I’m doing a Level 3 BTEC National Extended Diploma in system support & networking. I’ve had a change of heart for the career that I want to pursue, and now want to go into law. I’m predicted D*D*D* (three distinction stars, and the equivalent to A*A*A* at A-Level in terms of UCAS points), and am able to get into the University of York for law. The issue is that I’m worried if my BTEC will hold me back in regards to getting a training contract with a top firm. Should I do the LLB? Would it be better if I did a different degree and then did the GDL? So many questions… Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at


Pauline from accounts

I don’t think LLB v GDL route makes any difference. However, you’ll need to check with firms on whether they’ll accept a BTEC instead of A-Levels. I suspect most – rightly or wrongly – won’t.





Kirkland NQ

Can’t hurt. I don’t even have a degree given that I was plucked from my first lecture at Harvard straight to the ‘Land. by the managing partner.


Baron Jeff

CILEx is your friend, you can sneak in through the backdoor, and still have a rewarding career.






Why? Is it not viewed as highly as traditional training?



Because the SQE will make it redundant. Why qualify as a legal executive when you can qualify as a solicitor just as easily?



Say if I qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive first, then cross qualify as a Solicitor, will I face discrimination for:

1) Not going to a Russell group Uni;
2) Not doing a training contract; and
3) I started as an admin and have come extremely far in my career, hopefully this will minimise any negative comments.

I look forward to receiving non-snobbish, serious answers.


If you’re planign to work in the City I would answer as below:

1) no one would care, as where you went to uni doesn’t come up that often in conversation;
2) yes, as solicitors are naturally old school creatures, and anything different would warrant a raised eye brow and concern over your aptitude;
3) no, people would judge you if you profess to having started out as an admin. See 2).

Sneaky sneks

I agree with Baron Jeff. We are the sneaky sneks of the law world.


Emma from HR

You can say goodbye to the magic circle and hello to Addleshaw Goddard


CGSH Pedigree White Shoe Associate




Such shite. If you get a good degree from York and have a genuine interest in corporate law you can get to whatever firm you want, including CGSH.



Fake news.


LLB Pedigree Running Shoe Student

Serious question, what’s CGSH like? Do you enjoy working there (as much as city law life can be enjoyable)?



It’s the most brilliant, pedigree, white shoe, blue-blooded, testosterone-driven shop in the City. Love it. Love the deals, love the cash, love the ladness.


Legal Genius

Can easily jump to Latham upon qualification if you did a Corporate/Finance seat…



Some firms only recruit based on A Level results – however, some firms (who offer solicitor apprenticeships predominantly) recruit both A level and BTEC students and base it overall on UCAS Tariff Points rather than A level results.



You got into the University of York. Get a good grade there (high 2.1 or 1st) and the legal world is your oyster. Ignore anyone who says otherwise



Agree with Anon at 11.02. Plus most firms recruit based on A-levels OR EQUIVALENT. How else do you think those who study overseas meet the criteria, when there are no A-levels in their education system?
Also, the firm I trained at expressly said they had no preference over A-levels or BTEC.



You’ll likely struggle when it comes to magic/silver circle firms (and other City firms of a similar ilk), but if you’re open to regional firms or smaller Corporate outfits in the City, I don’t think it will stop you.

Get a solid 2:1/1st from York and that will open doors for you. I assume that you were initially thinking about a career in IT looking at your current BTEC course, so explaining why you undertook this course and then decided on a different direction will be a straight forward explanation. You could always think about doing an A-Level or two in the future if you feel it will hamper you by not having them.


Sex and Violins

I you get into York I would imagine you’ll be ok by and large. It’s not like you did a Btec and went somewhere rubbish. It may come up at interview, but I suspect if you explain it right you’ll be ok.




Don’t feel threatened at all. I didn’t have the required grades at GCSE to go onto A-Levels. I did a BTEC in public services and achieved a triple distinction and with that I was immediately accepted onto the LLB course at university. Since then I have completed the LPC and a masters and I’m currently sitting my first seat as a trainee! A lot of firms don’t even know what a BTEC is and my current firm praised me for finding a way to get to my goal. The only hard part was adjusting to the degree from the BTEC. What you’re doing now will not stop you at all from reaching your goal.






York is a third rate university for people with third rate minds.



Are the lecturers at University of Bolton giving you a hard time again, chap?



Maybe, but not many people have first or even second rate minds. Third is not bad and more than enough to get you into a big law firm.



So you’re saying it is better than Warwick then?


Omid G

Well, I don’t think it’ll be a problem if you get a 1st or a high 2:1. To compensate for the lack of A levels make sure you have a very very good grade at university and make sure you do very well in your LPC too. I doubt any firm will look down on a student who has a first from a Russell Group University because of what qualifications he did years prior. Ignore what the naysayers are saying they’re just jealous they never made it so they want to put you down. No one in a better position than you, will ever put you down. Only those below you will.
Good luck!



As most people said, it’s best to ask. The fact that you’re in York already is fine, but it never hurts to check.


City NQ

If your BTEC qualification required you to copy and paste template precedents and use the Ctrl F function you will have all the qualifications needed for a TC to be honest.



Never a truer comment about corporate/commercial work.


A grad recruiter

100% do the LLB and aim to get a 2:1 or above. Provided you don’t want to work at a magic circle firm, it’s usually the UCAS points equivalent. I’d suggest trying to get paralegal work after your LLB, if you haven’t secured a TC. But also volunteer as much as you can throughout university. Don’t forget SQE will be replacing the GDL/LPC so make sure you are aware of this happening and how it effects you.


Archibald Pomp O'City

“how it AFFECTS you”, please.


Ex-MC/pupil barrister

If you get a good degree from York (especially if you can get a first) there’s no reason at all that you couldn’t go on to get a magic circle training contract. Firms may state that they require certain A-level grades but I suspect that many would be willing to relax those requirements in the right circumstances. I’d suggest doing a comparatively hard degree (like law) so as to reinforce firms’ perception that you’re an academically able person.



I attended a poor state school. I didn’t work during school and I left sixth form with a PPM (dreadful grade).

I attended a not particularly prestigious University and left with a 2:2; again, I was not interested in passing exams.

I then went on to start a company which was relatively successful. I directed this company for 3 years.

I then decided I wanted a career in law. I passed my GDL and LPC, secured a TC in a proper central London corporate mid-tier firm.

At this point it is convenient to state that most of my lecturers and ALL of the career advisors gave me similar advice to the majority of the above… in other words, I’ll be lucky to secure a TC at a high street firm outside of London.

As a qualified solicitor I now head a small department, travel for work and am significantly involved in big money commercial litigation.

The point is, big city and magic circle firms approach me.

Do what you need to. As soon as you qualify it doesn’t matter as long as you are smart and work hard (and efficiently).

Oh, and the training and exposure you will get in small firms will be much more significant than the training a lot of trainees receive in the larger firms; from my experience talking to trainees in those firms.



And if you have this much time to reply to a LC comment clearly none of the above is true.



“I then went on to start a company which was relatively successful. I directed this company for 3 years”

This was the piece of experience that successfully disguised your less-than-stellar past, and made you an exceptional applicant. If this didn’t happen, you wouldn’t be where you are now. There is no way a young person with crap A-Levels and a bad degree will get a half-decent TC without something like directing a successful company on their CV.



So does it affect us or not? I did a creative subject UAL level 3 (not a btec, but equivalent) and I didn’t get particularly high grades, as I did not want to go to university when I did it. However, I am now studying the LLB at London South Bank University as I got in with my UCAS points, but I am quite worried as I did not know I may need A Levels to get a job in a city law firm.


Comments are closed.

Related Stories