‘Will a 52 in contract prevent me securing a City training contract?’

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Graduated with a first

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one Legal Cheek reader harbours concerns that the 2.2 they scored in their contract module has damaged their dreams of securing a training contract with a commercial law firm.

“I wanted to enquire whether the fact I got 52 in contract law will prevent me from ever becoming a trainee at a commercial law firm. I have since completed my LLB from Bristol, graduating with a first.”

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you’ll be fine


I got a 2.2 overall in first year, including a 3rd in tort, graduated with a first, and got a TC at Latham.


I’ve got a TC at Latham and I doubt that. I’ll keep an eye out for you though

A lawyer

No. I can understand why you’re stressed, but a first from Bristol should get your application looked at in the round. Put your efforts into the usual stuff that you’re supposed to do to make an application look good and I am sure you will be fine. Good luck.


Agreed. I got a 2.2 overall in first year and a third in tort. I graduated with a first and got a TC at Latham.


I’m 2PQE now. Keep your eyes peeled!


Lmao sure you are. Back to gimping away over your Intro to Contracts revisions notes, fresher. 🤡

Good news


MC trainee

If you got a First overall, no.

Here’s a dilemma – how do I ask out a fellow trainee without risking it being inappropriate? Or is that not possible these days?


Don’t do it. Remember the adage about not defecating where you eat. This arguably applies to dating people in the same profession (though only lawyers would want to date lawyers!)

Red Flag

For the love of everything sacred do not crap where you eat.

I get you spend the majority of your time with these people and given MC hours the ONLY people you will likely meet for a while, but don’t fall into the trap. Even if it isn’t considered taboo by HR, it’s just going to get ugly no matter what, especially when one or both of you are not offered NQ spots.

I feel for you, young soldier, but stay strong.


These days I’m sure the SRA would find a way to make an issue out of it and stick their nose in…


Nope. I know many people, including myself, who got 2:2s in contract (I got 53) and now have good training contracts at MC and US firms.


I wouldn’t worry. I know someone who graduated with a 2.2 overall from Twickenham University and who managed to secure a TC with Dechert. So the world is your oyster really.


You’re saying that like a TC at Dechert is a desirable thing?

You are a meme.

Are you saying £140k+ isn’t desirable at the age of 25? And don’t gimme any of that “ohh its a boiler room” and “ohh you won’t get have fun with your nitty friends”.




Dechert NQs only make 120k. So no, that’s not desirable when you can get 30k more elsewhere.

Got there eventually

I got a 44 in contract and trained and qualified at a US firm (although, in fairness, it did take me years to get a TC – it was especially tough because I never knew how much that was affecting my applications). Push through.

2:1 grad at a City firm with a 3rd on the record

No. A first is a first, especially from a good uni like Bristol. If anyone asks (which I’d be surprised if they did), you had a bad day. Seeing how you didn’t fail the module/had to rewrite the exam, I wouldn’t even mention it.

The only module I ever bombed was corporate law and I’m at a corporate firm in a transactional team so clearly no one cares about your uni experience.

Firms who have any requirements that you must have at least a 2:1 in all modules, and from what I remember there may still be a couple of them, are typically terrible places to work anyways. I mean most firms are terrible places to work anyways but that’s another issue…


I got a 2:2 in contract and graduated with a First. Secured a magic circle TC.

Some firms will care about it more than others. Some may have an automatic filtering process, and a 2:2 in contract may discount you. It’s just one way to filter through 1000s of applications. Others are more reasonable and won’t care.

Overall, you’ll be fine and find a TC at a good firm.

European dude

NQ at a US firm and I barely scraped a 2:1 at Nottingham with loads of 2:2 in certain modules in my second year. Gone are the times where grades were everything, firms nowadays care more about critical thinking, business acumen, communication skills, commercial awareness and willingness to learn.


Were you state or privately educated?


You went to Bristol (Magic Circle and US firms love it) and got a first too – you’ll be fine. Depends on the firm some want a 2:1 consistent across all modules, most will be holistic weighed up against other grades, work experience etc. I personally got 55 in contract, went to Uni of Manchester (2:1 – 65%) and got past the application sift with Bird & Bird, Gowling, Watson Farley & Williams, and Burges Salmon.


All third-rate shet firms. Well done my boy. 👏🐓

6 year PQE

Bombed my equity and contract modules (2:2’s) and graduated with a solid 2:1 overall and I still qualified in the city. Very doable and one mark doesn’t mean the end of your career.


‘In the city’. Yeah where? Croydon council?


6 year PQE making less than a US NQ 🤣

Kirks Thumpman

“qualified in the City”



It is a bit embarrassing, but you’ll be fine.


You should be more concerned about having went to Bristol.

Archibald Pomp O'City

Having GONE to Bristol. Or having BEEN to Bristol.


Illiterate sod.

Kirkland NQ

I wouldn’t worry. In my experience all you need is a solid knowledge of Italian supercars, Mayfair nightspots and the best year for vintage Krug and you’ll convince enough partners that you’ll fit in.

Archibald Pomp O'City

Why does everybody who doesn’t do well enough think they’re the exception who should be elevated to the best of the best?

With a score of 52, the candidate was barely at standard in a core subject.

No one (relevant) cares

Go on the legal 500 and look up the actual ‘elite’ and top lawyers in the so called ‘premier’ areas such as PE, Lev fin, M&A etc. Not many even went to a top tier uni. On top of that, at my firm, there are some people that are the authority on such a subject – but I can tell you, they have a spotty background/grades. What I am trying to say is a 52, or heck even a 2:2, will not hold you back. Once you’re in, you’re in – and literally no one cares. As the line in Margin Call goes “it wasn’t brains that got me here, I assure you that”.

Archibald Pomp O'City

Of course nobody cares about your grades when you’re in. What a colossal swerving of the point.


Most if not all of those people got into law when it was considerably easier and firms were considerably less elitist than nowadays. It is the equivalent of commercial barristers with 2.1s from Kent. It doesn’t happen any more, so comparing like that is useless


Right so law today is less elitist than in the past? Are you kidding? It was Public School and Oxbridge heaven pre 1995, and most of those guys were dim but went to the right school.

The question was about solicitors firms not barristers chambers. Stop conflating the two.


The same was true of solicitors’ firms. Take someone like charlie jacobs, for example. A leicester degree didn’t hold him back from joining linklaters, but that wouldn’t be the case now.


Won’t be a problem.

A Nostalgic Man


Just kidding. Probably not. Unless you’re applying to somewhere like Slaughters, but who wants to work there anyways.

I felt the same way in university because I had terrible first year grades. I also barely scrapped a 2.1. Eventually it all worked out and I ended up in a decent shop. I am now a few years in and kind of wish I never got it lol (just kidding of course, but these last 16 months have been unreal). What I do really wish: savouring my uni years more instead worrying about things I can’t control.

Enjoy your best years! Think less, laugh more.


Thank you for this advice! I’m now in a similar position to the one you described – very reassuring to read.

Weil 5PQE

I’m afraid so old chap, graduate recruiters tend not to look at applications with less than 70 in this module. Off to a conveyancing firm in Bolton you pop.


I got a first in History despite failing an elective module (in photography of all things). At interview, I took the opportunity to address it head on during my TC interview and made an excuse for why I failed (and then played up how despite failing it and really lowering my average, I still got a first).

I really wouldn’t worry – make an excuse for why it was a bad day – and then play up the fact you still got a first.

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