‘I got a 2:2 in my contract law module. Will this hinder my chances of securing a City training contract?’

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In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring lawyer is concerned that a poor result in her contract law module has scuppered her chances of securing a training contact.

“Just wanted some advice. I finished my first year law at Queen Mary earlier this summer. Just as a question. In QM, our contract law is broken up into contract law one and contract law two, in that way, it is two 15 credit modules. For my contract law one, I only managed to obtain a 55, that is a poor 2:2. Do you believe this will severely hinder my applications for vacation schemes and training contracts later on? I heard that contract can be a veto of sorts in some City firms. Overall, I have performed to a high 2:1 to 1st standard. What do you think? Thank you for your time!”

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You’ll be fine. Focus on securing a good 2:1 overall. Just be prepared to explain it during interviews.



I got a 2:2 in contract law (59) in my first year and I’m at a city firm. I got a 2:1 and came out with 2 training contract offers.
You will be fine !



Yeah I know right, nothing like a delicious little fake anecdote to keep the spirits up.



To say you can get in with a 2:2 does not mean it isn’t made more difficult by having a 2:2.


Associate at City Firm

Yes, some firms will reject you outright. It only makes sense, they receive thousands of applications and this is an easy way to filter people out.

I got a 2.2 in my first year contract law module (the rest of my modules were all 2.1s), made 12 applications, got 3 interviews, one vacation scheme and one TC offer at an excellent city firm which I qualified at. It’s doable, your application just has to work harder and you need to be able to explain it.


Anon Litigator

I got a 2:2 in Tort and now I am a litigation solicitor in a top 20 firm so literally don’t worry about it. If you get a first overall too, that will help!



Ultimately, it will depend on: i) how strong your other grades/rest of application are; and ii) the type of firm you’re applying to, e.g. magic circle, silver circle, regional. I know people with high 2:1s or firsts who are struggling to get a TC, it’s a tough market. You may have to re-apply when you have the contract law 2 grade but no harm in trying for vacation schemes.

“Do you believe this will severely hinder me I applications for vacation schemes and training contracts later on? ” – something that will hinder your chances of a successful application is attention to detail, so make sure you proof read.



“something that will hinder your chances of a successful application is attention to detail”

Lack of attention to detail, surely?



No. Get the 2:1 overall and you should be fine. I carry a 2:2 in contract law module, I was able to secure a TC in the last cycle.



Jeeez does this happen? Firms are ruthless



Well, if you have 3.5K applicants for 90 places across 3 vac schemes (the rough figures for each MC firm), you’ve got to slim down those numbers a lot before even reading through applications.



I got a 3rd in contract (ikr lol) in first year and have a TC at a City firm. Admittedly, I have a strong overall 2.1 from a top uni and my firm is one of the more ‘enlightened’ in the City.



Any clues as to which firm?? Asking for a friend



Macfarlanes right?


Barry Bigglesworthe

I got a 53 in one of my second year modules. At my TC interview I told the interviewers ‘it was three years ago’, they nodded and asked the next question, and now I’m on more wedge than I could have ever dreamed of!



I hate these clickbait articles and the subsequent comments. Unfortunately both help to perpetuate generalised myths about recruitment in law firms which doesn’t help anyone.

From someone who screens/screened applications for multiple city firms here’s my view:

1) City law firm is a broad church – different types of city firms will could have different attitudes towards this. But even then different law firms within those categories will have different attitudes towards this. One MC firm used to have a strict policy of needing a 62 or above in contract, another MC firm would look at your academics much more holistically. Banding together 50+ city firms into one category and assuming they would all act in the same way is a mistake.

2) It depends on the rest of your profile/application. First of all, against your other academics. From what is mentioned, it will depend on what your other contract module grade is. It will then depend on what the rest of your module grades for that year are (a 69% average with a 2.2 in contract will look very different to a 60% average with a 2.2 in contract). Your module grades could then be assessed against your A-levels. And then there is all the other application sections that are undoubtedly more important than academics – most candidates will strike out on many other things than their academics, whether it is a typo, never having a job, poor career motivation etc. For most firms/individual candidates, it is unlikely that a 55% contract module will be the sole reason for not getting through to the next stage. Consider it more like a first strike.

3) Assuming you took this assessment during lockdown, firms *may* be more open minded to grades this year. The grading system for 2020 went completely out the window and there is very little belief that Spring/Summer 2020 grades are a true reflection of people’s abilities in many cases – and by this I mean both good and bad grades. Due to different universities using a combination of grade inflation, compensation systems, non-detriment policies and students not sitting all modules/assessments, the 2020 results are generally being taken with a pinch of salt.


J Smith

I knew a person who never attended any lectures and barely attended classes who got a 2.2 and is freelancing for city firms who outsource. Don’t worry about it. With the SQE you don’t even need a TC.



This is the worst advice ever


Otiosum Redding

I never attended lectures and had no classes to go to. I did just fine.



Third division result in a key subject for a third division degree. This does not bold well, my friend.


Lawy McLawface

Bold hahaha, get out


Why bother with a TC?

You don’t need to get a training contract to do legal work.

The Free Representation Unit (FRU) has staff and volunteers with 2:2 degrees that undertake advocacy in tribunal for clients.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will also allow you to give advice to clients on a very wide range of areas with a 2:2 degree.

Both these places offer great careers. You don’t need a TC.



FRU or a Citizen’s Advice Bureau for a career????

Can’t think of anything worse.



You can be a granny and give CAB advice. You don’t need a 2:2.


Barry Bonanza

Why do you want to be a City lawyer if you’re not clever enough to avoid a 2(ii) in a Contract law module?


For the wise

You should perhaps reconsider where your real interests lay if you only obtained a 2:2 in contract law which is the key module that provides the basic framework for the type of transactions you will encounter at City firms. You could however explain it away by saying you’re more interested in litigation/advisory type work – although you may not have any modules/evidence to back this up! The key message here is…. don’t just get sucked into the hype of Magic and Silver Circle firms because they’re constantly shoved in your face as a law student – it may not be for you!



And pray what is commercial litigation about!?



I was going to say – good knowledge of academic contract law is more important to litigators than transactional lawyers to be honest.



You’ll be fine overall – some firms might put this in the “against” column but very few factors in isolation mean a straight no. Basically be prepared to explain it but if the rest of your application is good you shouldn’t worry too much.



Firms receive hundreds / thousands of applications. There is no way the majority of application reviewers will go through grades with a fine-tooth comb. They will look at headline details such as previous experience, overall grade (must be a 2:1) and, of course, responses to questions. The 2:2 in the particular module may be raised at the interview stage. That all said, some may view things differently but I think the foregoing will apply to the majority.



One bad module against plenty of good modules won’t kill your chances. Some firms will bin your application for this but most won’t.

Not to mention you did this module in 2020. Firms aren’t blind to the disruption caused by the pandemic. You’ll be fine.


A non-knee mousse

Yes, you are now doomed forever. As a matter of fact, I predict you will become homeless within the next 2 years and become a crack addict selling your body for a fiver. A 2:2 in one module will do that to you.

(In all seriousness, you might get pulled up on it but I highly doubt it will be fatal).



All I would say is: good luck explaining that to the Partners at Slaughter and May.



I got a 2.2 in an area of law that my chambers is the top ranked set for in both major directories. I don’t think they even asked for a breakdown of results during my pupillage app a few years ago. If solicitors’ recruitment methods are as non-robust as many chambers, you’ll be fine



Not the do all end all. Might be flagged. Can be explained. Short people can get top shelf products. Improvise.


No, this is Patrick

well if it is only one low grade compared to many first class and high 2.1 grades, then you shouldn’t be worried at all. I come from a uni were we do 10-12 modules per year cause it a double degree in business and law.

Well if you are only doing 4 modules or 6 per year, then that could be a factor. However, i dont think a 58% should be a problem for you at all. I have about 6 grades out of 32 grades in their 50s and I have interviewed at 5 american firms, and Im currently in training at one.

It grades are all you have to then it could be problematic, but if you actually have good experience, then that will overshadow the rest. eg created a start up, vac schemes, president of a society , and etc



There are a couple of different things to unpack here, and several comments already posted don’t really address that.

The first point is that it is a poor modular mark, not a final degree mark. That’s true, but nevertheless a few firms (well, mainly Slaughter & May) really do scrutinize individual module marks regardless of subject matter. S&M care about module marks – I did eng lit at university, and was asked quite harshly in an interview with them about a low 2.1 in a first-year module. So all the comments here along the basis of “just get a 2.1 at finals” miss the fact that some firms won’t overlook module marks, and more problematically, if you’re applying for 2nd-year schemes, you have to rely on your module marks since you obviously haven’t yet graduated.

The next point is that this low mark is in contract law, which is more of an issue. Many firms don’t mind that much other than what you get in your finals, but given you are a law student they will be interested in your modules. Had you done badly in family law or something equally inconsequential, that would be less of an issue, but contract law is extremely important – naturally – for commercial law firms. So comments along the lines of “I got a desmond in family law and still got a TC, don’t worry” miss the issue again.

Getting a TC isn’t an exact science, and there are so many variables that you want to have as much going for you as possible – don’t make trouble for yourself unnecessarily with iffy module marks in vital areas. This really really doesn’t help your causes, but equally, it isn’t really the kiss of death, other than regarding S&M.


Old Guy

Many comments on the fact the poor grade is in contract law, arguing that is most important for practice. Unless you will be a litigator, you will not need much theoretical understanding of contract law. In fact, much of what you need will not be covered in your undergrad course. You will learn either during the LPC or from practice. I say this as a very content transactional solicitor, I am not a lawyer, I get paid good wedge to work horrendous hours to put paperwork together for transactions. One day I will get paid to manage a team (either as a partner or in-house managing external lawyers) to complete transactions and do some crisis management.



How should you answer if you’re asked about your 2.2 during interview and don’t have mitigating?


Lord Harley

At that point, surely you just walk out of the interview.


Lord Harley

You thought about the Commercial Bar?


Unbelievable Jeff

I have a 3rd in contract, and a city TC. Don’t expect anything, but it’s possible.



Reinforcing what others have said, if you’re performing to a high 2.1 / 1st standard overall but not doing well in contract, that suggests your interests and abilities lie elsewhere. Believe it or not, UG contract law is surprisingly interesting compared the realities of commercial legal practice (as told by friends), so if it’s not your bag now it’s unlikely to get much better.

Remember that law firms pay universities (/law societies) for the privilege of persuading you early doors that if you’re a good lawyer, you *must* want to come to one of the city firms. Also remember the the LC comments section is largely comprised of those involved in / linked to that culture.

The reality is that legal practice is a broad church (from Crime to Commercial, via Housing, Employment, Education, Public, Private Client etc etc), and you will have your own sense of what you want your life to achieve. A legal career is largely a compromise between salary, interesting work, work-life balance and broader impact, and you should be sure to seek as much information on the options as you can.

As for me, I was dead sure I wanted to go to a city firm and earn my mega bucks, and it took me a while to realise that was just because I thought that was the only option. In the end I went to the Bar, do interesting civil work, have lots of time off, earn enough to live comfortably, and am generally happy.

Best of luck!


The only truth

Getting a degree from QM is what will hinder your chances, not a 2:2 in first year



I got a 2:2 overall in first year (59.4% (whoops)). Graduated with a first (Russell Group). Pupillage with a good set, moved to a very good set a few years later. Don’t sweat it.



@T which sets were these, if you don’t mind my asking?



I went to QMUL and got 50 in contract and 51 in tort (2:1 overall, though). Wasn’t even really brought up in my TC interviews (ended up training at an American firm) and am now a litigator. You’ll be fine!



I don’t know why law firms are so snooty about academics. You really don’t need to be bright to be a solicitor. As a non-contentious lawyer, you put together boilerplate documents; if you are a litigator, you delegate everything to counsel and sit at the back of court. The Bar, however, is a different world.



Some of us flunked half of the GDL but still somehow manage to “survive” at a magic circle firm… apparently imposter syndrome is justified sometimes.



Well you have to look at the module grade overall. I got the same exact grade. I achieved a 55 for term 1 and then a 65 for term 2. On average I have achieved a 60% for Contract.


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