Advice

‘Will firms consider me for a TC if I’ve had to retake LPC exams?’

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I’m currently looking for paralegal roles but have had no luck yet

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring lawyer is worried law firms won’t consider him for a training contract given that he’s had to retake exams on the Legal Practice Course (LPC).

“I graduated from a Russell Group university with a 2.1 in law. I then went on to study the LPC. However, I have had to retake a few exams because I had to work alongside my studies. Now I am not sure whether I will be able to succeed in applying for training contracts.

I have volunteering experience at two different firms, but this was not paid employment. Currently, I am applying for paralegal roles but due to the pandemic and the experience required, I have not been successful in securing a role yet.

My question is, will law firms consider my application for a training contract even though I have had retakes on the LPC? I’d be interested to hear from any lawyers that were successful in this regard.”

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61 Comments

Dunno

Probably

(10)(11)

Real World

…. for about between 2 and 10 seconds. Then reject you.

(5)(4)

Observer

Which firms are you applying to? Apply to smaller firms and it shouldn’t matter.

(14)(7)

Anonymous

Take the hint. The LPC is a relatively easy exam that only functions to weed out the obviously not up to it. If you are borderline, then you are going to struggle.

(118)(115)

Ed

Ah here we go again with the spam liking

(8)(15)

Anonymous

Pretty sure the LPC is more than just one relatively easy exam. Get your facts straight before being critical.

(55)(6)

Wake up

Dullard, the 9.45am was clearly referring to the LPC as a whole and the description they gave was accurate. It is a straightforward filter qualification to bar the clearly not good enough. Someone who is struggling to pass that really has to assess their choices and chances.

(13)(15)

❄️

That’s not very nice, that!

(5)(1)

Aspiring Solicitor

Come off that BS. The LPC is not for the weak mind, or lazy students that can’t deal with bazillion of information.

(1)(2)

Apopliop

It may be relative. But those who have what it takes find it relatively easy. From the style of your post, my guess is that you found it hard work,

(1)(0)

Trainee with re-takes to their name

Stupid and arrogant comment.

People have to re-take for a lot of reasons and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It takes guts to retake an exam you failed.

I would think better of a applicant who failed, worked hard and tried again and passed. Shows grit and determination.

(5)(0)

Anon

Yes. But you will struggle with prestigious firms.

(16)(11)

Charlie

This isn’t true. People need to stop spreading fake information.

Law firms ask for a minimum 2:1 and that goes for most top MC,SC,International and US firms.

Law firms don’t have an LPC requirement for a reason. As long as you pass you’re good

(52)(8)

Anon

A legal career at any level is competitive and intense.

The more prestigious the firm the more intense and competitive it gets and the slimmer your chances are. If you’ve failed anything at all, they do and will pick up on it and your chances become even slimmer.

I’m not saying you can’t do get a tc – of course it’s possible. What I said is that you may struggle to get one at a top ‘prestigious’ firm, and anyone who has failed lpc exams will attest to that.

By way of background, I failed multiple exams on the lpc, but eventually made it to a ‘top city firm’. I didn’t qualify at one though. So I am giving you very real information, contrary to what Charlie might think.

(27)(13)

Jon

That’s just incorrect. A number of law firms have a minimum requirement of a commendation, sometimes even across every module. Why comment on something when you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about?

(7)(5)

Anon

In my training contract at a large firm (2016) there was a clause requiring you to pass the LPC without resits and with a commendation overall. It also provided that if you didn’t satisfy these criteria the firm could rescind your TC and reclaim law school fees. I doubt they’d enforce those provisions though.

(8)(0)

Honest Career Adviser

No. Prepare your application for McD’s or benefits.

(14)(78)

Anon

Why troll, this person is legitimately concerned about her career and you are wasting all of our time.

(9)(0)

FlourPour

Smaller firms maybe but the big ones are looking for reasons to reject your application. In city law the LPC is generally regarded as a joke and the irritating types trade stories of just how little effort they put in to getting their distinction.

Your interviewers will likely have convinced themselves that they were at the rave every night during their LPC and would scoff at the idea that having a job alongside it should be an impediment to achievement. We had a talk by a recruitment partner at the firm on the eve of starting our LPC and he bragged about spending most of the time on camping trips and mountain climbing. That’s the kind of attitude you’re up against. You see it in the comments here.

Hate to say it but they won’t have much sympathy for anyone who struggled on the LPC because most city lawyers look back on it as the last time in their lives they had any free time and a low stress lifestyle.

(44)(5)

law DOT tax

Has anyone seen the new CMS logo?

(2)(2)

lawgirl

Yes! Not a fan, I think the old one suited them more.

(6)(0)

Billy

“What we lack in talent we try to make up with aggression”

(13)(3)

Turds on fire

It looks like flaming shet. Which is in line with the firm itself.

(6)(16)

Anon

The CMS vendetta on this site is so weird…they’ve upped trainee/nq salaries (not updated on most list) and there are worse firms to target (Dentons, Clyde’s, Pinsent’s etc.) – not sure on the new logo though!

(28)(5)

Anon

You forgot addleshaws 🤢

(8)(2)

Flaming cesspit

ROFL upped NQ whack from £73k to £75k you say? 😂😂😂

(5)(8)

Grow up

You’re probably a 30 something year-old bitter paralegal who can’t get a TC… taking out that hate on firms that rejected you in the legal cheek comments lol pathetic

William

I’ve seen many people who just about passed the LPC secure TCs with good firms.

Magic Circle firms take on students with low 2:1s all the time, I doubt they’d care about LPC retakes.

You’ll be alright

(33)(3)

Realist

See this comment, particularly the final paragraph:

“I’m not saying that it’s right, or fair, or to be encouraged. But if Eve is the daughter of a HC judge, or a partner in a MC firm, and has flown academically due to an expensive education, and has been steeped in ‘the culture’ throughout her life, forming a very real awareness of what it means to be a lawyer because she’s grown up with it, she is going to be more attractive than Adam, who does not have all of those advantages.

I’m not for a moment saying that there is no room for Adams. I am an Adam. But it is easy to see how the Eves get the breaks. There are plenty of Adams who may well offer much to the profession, but there will always be Eves who can almost be guaranteed to add to the profession.

I’m thinking about a family I know of. Dad was a HC judge. There are four sons, all who went to the Bar. One is now a HC judge and another a silk. The other two will probably take silk at some point. Not because daddy was a HC judge per se, but because they are bloody brilliant, partly because of what they grew up with and around. Are we seriously saying that the profession should be deprived of the best of the best (and these four are) simply because they had advantages?

There are finite places at the table. No matter how you decide on the entrance criteria, there will always be people who could have succeeded but didn’t get the chance, because there are never enough seats for everybody who wants one.”

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/training-contracts-favour-sharp-elbowed-grads-with-insider-knowledge-/5106809.article

(22)(4)

Adam

How is this relevant??

(9)(1)

Realist

The point is that it’s brutal out there, and lots of other people have huge advantages. While it’s cathartic to blow smoke up people’s assess in a superficial attempt to encourage them, if you’re actually just encouraging them to squander years of their life in a futile quest, then you’re only helping your own ego.

(11)(2)

V

Who gives a shit about the brilliant four , I can speak 3 languages , have first class political science degree on top of my 2:2 law , worked full-time during my studies and read more books none of my lecturers haven’t even heard of , I am what I am and I don’t give a toss about some 50 year old magic circle partner who thinks I lack something , pretty sure I am better than him in many aspects.

(3)(0)

Sarah

I’ve taught LPC for 16 years. You will get a TC.

Every year some good, solid students unexpectedly fail exams; they had to work long hours to support themselves/ they had to choose between rent and food/suffered ill health or are bereaved during the course.

You have a solid academic background and if your A levels are also good, this blip is explainable. Speak to your careers team at your institution and get them to advise you on best approach to take.

(41)(5)

Anonymous

There are so many applicants per place in the current environment there is simply no need for the better firms to listen to “explanations” as to why someone did not meet the standards many other applicants achieved without any issue.

(13)(5)

Joe

I’ve decided to take the plunge. I’m no longer coming onto this site anymore and I am finally fed up of the rubbish articles, primary school level writing and utterly poor stories.

The stupidity in the comments is just the cherry on the cake.

See ya folks

(77)(6)

Sam

Wish I could take the plunge but I’m assisted to arguing with strangers in the comments lol

(7)(0)

Sam

Addicted*

(3)(0)

Unknown US Firm Trainee

I can speak from experience they will still consider your application. Consider boosting other parts of your profile/application.

(15)(1)

Anonymous

I’m a US Firm Associate, y’knoe!

(1)(2)

Best of luck

Don’t despair, I know of 2 people who failed solicitors accounts and one went on to train at DWF and another at a small high street firm.

I know people who have failed LPC exams when they had a TC in place (but I’m talking about small exams like legal writing) and they just casually re-sat.

Law firms need to wake up to how much harder it is completing the LPC and *needing* to work. I worked 25hrs+ a week alongside the LPC, the socio-economic struggle was real. I felt more knackered then, than I do now as a trainee.

(15)(2)

DWF gulag

“one went on to train at DWF and another at a small high street firm.”

Don’t know which option is worse, poor bastards.

(23)(4)

TE

Pray for me, I’m doing my TC alongside the LPC part time. Congrats on your TC, though!

(0)(0)

Blago

It’s possible to get a TC after retaking exams. But it may require a bit more graft. The post is ambiguous though. Has the OP finished the LPC? If so, what grade did they get? This is important.

Usually LPC retakes shouldn’t pose an issue if the firm does not ask you to disclose that information. For paralegal hires, they generally ask for a cover letter and CV – and to be honest who would bother explaining retakes on those documents?

Still, for many TC application forms, they will ask you to disclose retakes. At this point, useful paralegal work experience should increase the odds of you getting through the door. That, and/or strong academics, and old fashioned luck.

(7)(0)

Realist

TL;DR. Forget law – pursue another career.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the vast majority of applicants to secure decent legal jobs. Law schools are churning out thousands of people every year who have been misled into believing that a lucrative career lies ahead of them (or, frankly, any career). In fact, the profession is creaking at the seams with desperate LPC and BPTC graduates who are squandering years of their lives as paralegals, with no realistic prospect of any return on investment of what they spent on legal education, let alone the years of their lives they will never get back. Such people could have been content with other, non-legal careers, but are now in thrall to the sunk costs fallacy: their arm is in the mangle, and they will spent much of their 20’s in low-pay, low-status jobs with no prospect of advancement, before giving up, accepting reality and changing career.

Nowadays, only the truly exceptional (academically and otherwise) have a good chance of making it in law. The new qualification process with the SQE is poorly planned and likely to be a disaster. Qualification per se will be worthless, all that will matter is where people spend the early years of their career. The consequence will be to make those who train under SQE less employable in the long term, unless they win the jackpot at the start of their career by qualifying into a high-end law firm. Effectively, the new system will cement a ‘two-tier’ structure for lawyers, with the majority of those who qualified superglued to the bottom of the ladder. The publicly-funded legal sector in particular has been gutted over the last 20 years. For example, see this 2009 warning by Alex Deane of the reality of being a criminal barrister: https://www.lccsa.org.uk/crime-doesnt-pay. A decade later, this 2019 article by a newly-redundant criminal solicitor (more importantly, the comments underneath), shows that the position had only worsened: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/young-legal-aid-lawyer-shares-pain-over-redundancy/5070734.article

Further, law is not, generally, a well-paid career. 90% of jobs are poorly-paid, low status and lacking in security. City law jobs are a minority which create a very false image. Google ‘cravath bimodal’ for an insight into the reality of legal salaries: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cravath+bimodal. While the results you get will be US-focused, they also reflect the UK position. Bluntly, you can only make money if you work for rich clients who want to spend their money on legal services. They are few and far between. Fighting for those coveted positions at the top end of the market, the standard of applicants is quite extraordinary. You can check this for yourself: use LinkedIn to read the CVs of trainees and junior associates in City firms – they almost exclusively have stellar academics, and overwhelmingly from Oxbridge. There are hundreds of such people fighting for each place. Why would a law firm give a training contract to someone who is academically inferior to the competition? In other words, you’re not competing against objective standards, you’re competing with every other people who also wants that job.

What you can do without cost or risk is apply to law firms for sponsorship through training . If you’re successful, congratulations, you’re 70% of the way there (noting that you still need to secure a job on qualification, and then retain it until at least 3-4 PQE when you know what you’re doing). If you can’t, for the love of God don’t self-fund yourself through law school, or indulge in years of dead-end paralegal or contract lawyer jobs: listen to what the market is telling you – they don’t want you.

I am not being nasty, I am being realistic. Well-intentioned careers advice online is dominated by both an air of unreality and an absence of commercial understanding. I realise of course that virtue signalling and the ‘boosterism’ of empty encouragement plays well on social media. In really though, it is self-indulgent, and actually serves to mislead people about their actual prospects, and thus where in reality they should invest their time and money.

What am I missing?

(32)(11)

You're missing a fair amount

“trainees are overwhelmingly from Oxbridge”

at MC firms, c.30-35% of the intake is Oxbridge. at your average mid-tier City firm, that figure is much lower. probably around the 10-20% mark. also, most of those Oxbridge candidates probably got 2.1s.

a big chunk of City firms’ intakes doesn’t even come from RG unis. the firms on which Legal Cheek has data re: university background often have 20-30% of their intake come from non-RGs. speaking from experience: once you move away from top firms, the Surreys, Lancasters, Leicesters, Aberdeens, become slightly more common. not super common, but common enough. i recall Travers and CMS having an especially high number of their trainees study at these unis.

(for what it’s worth, the rest of the post doesn’t really help the OP, given that it’s unclear whether they fall into the case of ‘good candidate who has faced a setback’ or ‘bad candidate who has zero hopes of getting a TC’)

(15)(4)

Realist

Some of what you say is correct – that’s because some of my comment was adapted from a similar discussion re. applicants to the commercial bar. That is almost exclusively Oxbridge firsts.

Nonetheless, I suggest that the underpinning point remains correct: this is ferociously competitive, and as the 12.18pm comment notes, all CVs with red flags are automatically binned. Clearly this has triggered the 12.31pm person who replied, but people seem to be oblivious to the fact that recruiting takes time, time literally costs money for law firms, and so we won’t waste effort on anything other than exceptional CVs. In the firm where I qualified we received 200-300 CVs for each training contract place. The outsourced recruiting team were looking for reasons to reject as many as possible of them, so that only a tiny minority could proceed forward to video interview and then the assessment centre. Anything other than perfection is an excuse to bin you. Sorry, but that’s reality.

Facts don’t care about people’s feelings – nor, bluntly, do we. The overwhelming majority of social media commentary just tells people to keep plugging away. That results in swathes of people squandering their 20’s in appallingly paid paralegal jobs with no future. Even those who manage to qualify need to cling on for several years until they have enough experience to be widely employable: when we recruit document reviewers for dull-as-ditchwater work spending 10 hours/day ploughing through Relativity, the calibre of the qualified solicitors applying to us is heart-breaking. Some people appear to have just been unlucky on qualification or shortly thereafter, and have never recovered. It’s truly brutal, and all the feel good nonsense on social media is a betrayal of people’s trust. We should tell them the truth.

(16)(2)

Anonymous

This and 12:18 hit the nail on the head. The “follow your dream” crowd are talking new age nonsense. The odd outlier is not a basis to think otherwise. It is prudent to assume your prospects are only a good as the worst point on your CV.

(14)(2)

Nomnom

There are a sea of candidates without red flags, so I bin all those with red flags. Other people can take chances on them. And, sorry to say, failed LPC exams is a red flag. You might get lucky, but there is massive over-supply of candidates and 2:1s are just the minimum and mean no more in this era of university grade inflation.

(27)(9)

lol okay Joleen

who the fuck are you again? a second year warwick student roleplaying as a recruiter?

(27)(7)

Realist

Is your anger because you believe that sub-par candidates are actually so valuable that law firms will in fact spend time and money considering them, or are you just indulging your emotions because you fear that you are such a sub-par candidate?

Please explain to me why law firms receiving hundreds of applications for each training contract place would waste time on people with red flags, because I simply don’t understand.

(8)(4)

Actual truth

Realist – you have some valid points but there’s also the other side. Where many candidates have self-funded and gone on to get TCs at good firms. Where someone has had to resit an exam and still obtain a TC. Where paralegals have gone on to use their experience as an advantage and secure TCs or even qualify as an associate more quickly due to their long-term experience. I’ve seen all accounts of this.

The process is brutal but I don’t think it’s fair to paint it as monolithic. Everyone’s path to law is different. Yes, it’s hard but not impossible.

The idea that someone “may not be good enough”. As you are aware, there’s a large amount of subjectivity and “luck” involved in the process as well. I’ve also seen accounts of trainees who on paper who appear “amazing” but are terrible and others who went to an “okay” university with average grades completely shine through.

Don’t judge your experiences as the only “reality”. That may be your “reality” but may not be for countless others.

(16)(2)

Realist

100% correct. A partner at the Magic Circle firm at which I trained even made the point you make about two dreadful Oxbridge trainees who, soon into their training contract, went ‘wibble’ under the pressure and never returned from mental health leave.

I respectfully submit however that we should emphasise the survivorship bias danger to all those with sub-par CVs, as my personal observation is that the far greater risk is not that (a) potentially successful candidates will be dissuaded; but rather (b) candidates highly unlikely to succeed will be indulged and encouraged to squander years of their lives in pursuit of a chimera.

Me

12:31, angry and stupid. A potent online combination.

(4)(1)

Positive possum

I had to re-take an LPC exam and I got a training contract. End of discussion.

(17)(2)

Anonymous

Where? Don’t rush, I’m getting my popcorn.

(17)(4)

Relativism Lives

Clearly there is no set yes/no to this answer and it’s broadly subjective.

Yes, it will make it harder, as will any undesirable aspects of an applicants background. Impossible? No. Just be honest in your interview about why.

If you are failing the GDL/LPC WITHOUT significant pressure such as a full time job then yes, that is very likely a sign that you aren’t cut out for it. If you are also failing multiple exams, that is also a bad sign.

But gaining invaluable experience showcases a dedication to the law- something that many candidates may not be able to demonstrate as well.

(4)(0)

TheOK

The rules have change. The Goverment now set it that what every working you might have gain as an apprentice or paralegal will count towards you SQA. Look up SQA. However, you will two years working experience.

(1)(10)

Discombobulated

Come again?

(0)(0)

Perhaps Just Lucky

I got sick during a ULaw LPC exam (I wasn’t feeling great at the start of the exam but thought it was just nerves). I wasn’t able to finish. Thanks to the “fit to sit” rule that if you start an exam, you are fit to finish it, I wasn’t able to appeal the fail and get a second “First attempt”. So whilst I had a >70 average (including mid 70s on the retake), I finished with a basic Pass on my LPC. Joy. It’s fun having to explain that every bloody time.

Anyways, I had a paralegal job lined up to start immediately after exams at a very very good City firm. I worked my b@llz off for a year and secured a TC. They have my degree certificates and notice of completion for the LPC. Not once have they ever looked at my LPC marks/standing. Turns out getting a >70 average was a complete waste of time. I should of had more fun. Now I don’t have the time for it, but the pay is fantastic at least so I can afford the best private mental health services when I have a breakdown. Subject for another day…

However, these stories are not all roses – another person on a firm-funded LPC in my classes suffered a similar story and was not able to get a second 1st attempt after their appeal failed. Their firm revoked their TC as a condition of the offer was passing all exams the first go. Several firms, including some MC firms, have that policy. I am not sure if I would have been successful at getting an offer from my firm/similar tier of firm if I hadn’t had the paralegal job lined up prior to completing the LPC. I certainly would not have applied to those types of firms if that was the case. I might not of even applied in City. Perhaps a small West End firm or one of the very big firms outside of London.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I know someone who failed the LPC, but her American firm took her on nonetheless, just deferred her by 6 months so she could resit. She was (is) really dim and used to clock off early, and artificially inflated her billables. I remember she’d clock up 8-10 billable entries in a single narrative when she’d get in at 9.30 and clock off by 6 taking a leisurely 1-1.5 hour lunch and probably doing 4-5 hours on a file.

Once I did a research note in another team which is completed in full in about 1 hour, and she billed 5 hours in “producing” back my very same research note at least in her time entries. No additional detail, just a piece of work which needed to be done, was done and she decided to put hours on it.

She was taken on too…

So in answer to the question it depends on the firm, and on the job provided you don’t make many huge mistakes and a somewhat responsible timekeeper, assuming there is a business need, but ou will still be OK and kept on.

(2)(0)

LPC fail

I failed a core module, a couple of skills modules (solicitors accounts twice because i couldn’t be bothered to figure it out), and otherwise got pretty poor grades (all passes, only one commendation). Overall my average was something like 52.

I still got a silver circle TC.

Granted I have a first from a RG uni, loads of pro bono / some other interesting work experience, and had quite a good application form, assessment centre and interview performance.

My firm had clauses in the TC that require a pass at first attempt which I think they might have enforced had they been funding my LPC. But alas, i self-funded, mucked about and somehow still managed to sort myself out.

It’s possible but work on yourself and your experience to ensure they are distracted from your LPC by everything else you’ve done.

(3)(0)

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