Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

I have bad A levels and just about to get a 2:1 degree. What should I do about it?


We have had a careers enquiry in from a third year law student asking us what he should do about his A levels. He has C C D at A level and is currently in his third year at university and expects to graduate with a 2:1 degree. He has been looking at job applications and noticing that a lot of law firms require very high A levels in order to apply. He has asked the question whether he should return to college and complete his A levels again in order to get the grades, or just apply anyway.


Our advice is to do neither. I think it is simply a case that this particular student needs to accept that because he has not got the A level grades required for specific firms it is unfortunately going to be their loss and his gain if he ends up somewhere else.

This of course does not help the particularly candidate in question, so looking at practicalities we think the best option for him would be to aim simply to qualify as a solicitor, and the route probably available to him is to look at high street law firms, local authorities and NGOs. These very often have more flexibility when it comes to grades and look at other issues rather than just high A level grades in order to determine whether to take someone on a training contract. It is highly possible that this particular student is going to spend a considerable part of his early career in paralegal work (if he can get it) and then use that to move himself into a training contract and later qualification.

We do not think there is any point in applying for firms where there is a minimum requirement at A level because they are going to get so many applications from students who do have the minimum required A levels that it would be a bit of a waste of time filling out the form on the whole. That is assuming there is nothing particularly outstanding that this student has done as well as their A levels, but in most cases this is simply not the case. Similarly going back to college to retake A levels for a year is a bit extreme when the student could be out gaining valuable practical experience and moving their career along that way.

As we say time and time again to both qualified and non-qualified lawyers that in most parts of the profession it is not your qualifications that will get you places, it is your experience. Whilst it is true that there is a higher tier of solicitors who earn huge amounts of money and work very long hours in order to do this, the vast majority earn less than £45,000 and work in smaller practices. They do not generally have particularly outstanding academic achievements or extensive qualifications.

Bear this in mind when applying for jobs. Do not get a chip on your shoulder about the fact that everyone else has better A levels than you and life is unfair, but instead deal with it. You sat the A levels, you got the grades and that is just the way it is.

So in summary, get work experience, concentrate on smaller practices and paralegal work potentially, consider not taking the LPC (or the new equivalent) until you have some work experience so you know that this is the career for you. We hope you enjoy a long and prosperous career in whatever you end up doing!.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Licensed Conveyancers, Legal Cashiers, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.

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