Advice

Barristers dish out career wisdom to mark A-Level results day

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Exams scrapped in wake of coronavirus mean sixth-formers receive grades based on predictions and schools’ past performance

It’s an A-Level results day like no other.

This summer’s exams were scratched by the government in March owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today students up and down the country are receiving their grades based primarily on predictions calculated by teachers using past work, mock exams and student rankings, as performance indicators. The grades were then standardised according to factors including a schools’ past performance and students’ previous exam scores.

Amid the corona chaos, some barristers have shared helpful pointers on Twitter (unlike last year’s distinct lack of dialogue) to those receiving their results today, and that aspire to join the bar.

Bunny blogger, The Secret Barrister, came under the thread started by The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court, stressing the importance of extra-curricular activities outside the law. The anonymous author said:

St Johns Buildings barrister Douglas Lloyd echoed SB’s sentiment, stating: “A disappointing grade shouldn’t stop you becoming a lawyer. Your CV can be much bigger and more interesting than a grade you got aged 18.”

He continued that when interviewing candidates for pupillage, we presume, “I’ve had zero interest in A-Levels”, adding “there are many paths to take”.

“As the proud (?!) owner of an E grade in A-Level French I know that A-Level results are not the be all and end all as an indicator of ability,” wrote Nine St John Street criminal silk Jaime Hamilton QC. “As a chambers we recognise that A-Levels are taken at a time when socio-economic disparity can be at its widest. That’s why we don’t consider someone’s A-Level results when scoring pupillage applications.”

The grade was “a pretty good indicator of my ability to speak French” but just wasn’t “an indicator of my potential as an advocate rather than an avocat”, he quipped.

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Meanwhile, his chamber mate, Robert Smith, encouraged students to take part in public speaking, saying he’s amazed by how many haven’t done so.

No5 Chambers employment barrister Nabila Mallick wrote, “you are not your A-Level grades and they do not define your intellectual ability or the success you could obtain”, continuing, “whether you get As or Es it all hangs on determination hereafter — just don’t let anything get in your way!”

One bar student and future pupil barrister shared his story of how he scored “disappointing” ABD grades at A-Level. He summed up saying: “What matters is finding experiences and making the most of them!”

Sixth-form students unhappy with the grades they achieved can appeal to receive their mock results, or sit exams in the autumn, under Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s ‘triple lock’ system announced yesterday.

No5 Chambers barrister Kawsar Zaman tweeted this handy guide setting out how students can appeal exam grades.

Congratulations to all those who will be starting their law degrees later this year!

Did you overcome poor A-Level results to succeed in law? Let us know in the comments section below.

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