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Don’t let your academics hold you back

So, you proved your academic capabilities at school and as a fun loving and slightly rebellious 18-21 year old you let your grades slip a little as your priorities shifted to enjoying a few too many alcoholic beverages and generally taking advantage of being away from home and partying your way through university. You come out with memories and friends that will last a lifetime but also a 2.2 degree. It suddenly dawns on you that you have little or no chance of getting your LPC funded or securing an early training contract so you go on to self fund (or parent fund) the LPC.

With the LPC under your belt, you set about the training contract search once again. The reality is that as an LPC graduate your academic grades largely determine which firms will consider you for training contracts so you are limited but you finally secure that ever elusive training contract, perhaps after proving yourself through a few years of paralegal experience. Your sub standard academics may have resulted in a lengthier process to qualification but you are finally there and the hard part is luckily over!

This focus on academics as a determining factor in whether you should be considered as a suitable candidate is often flawed but as a graduate with little or no practical legal experience, it is pretty much all firms can go on given the hundreds of training contract applications they receive.

The good news is that as a junior lawyer in today’s buoyant legal market, the focus has shifted away from straight A’s and a 2.1 degree to what technical skills you have, what type of training you have received, what networking events you attend, which committees you are on and whether you have that all important potential to develop business. You can be academically excellent but without the ability to establish and develop client relationships, network with peers and other professionals, mentor junior team members and generate new revenue streams you will struggle to ever achieve partnership. The economic downturn of the late noughties made firms reassess their business needs and this potential to be a rainmaker is now of the utmost importance.

So, at what point do firms stop automatically discarding all 2.2 degree CVs to the shredder? In this market, as soon as you are qualified! Currently, there is a huge demand for corporate, commercial, finance, tax, pensions and real estate solicitors so if you have experience in any of these areas and can demonstrate a passion for what you do then given the shortage of lawyers on the market we would expect to be able to secure interviews for you at the leading regional, national and even international firms.

It would be wrong to say that your academic qualifications at this early stage in your career are irrelevant, they are still important but as experienced legal recruiters we can guide you on which firms and partners are less stringent on academic qualifications and we can also advocate on your behalf to highlight your relevant skills, experience and personality fit so that the focus is shifted away from your academic results and on to what you can offer to prospective firms.

Prior to any interviews, you will receive full guidance from us in terms of how to prepare for the interview and what aspects of your CV and experience you should seek to highlight to the interviewers. During the interview, your personality will go a long way and the questions your interviewer will be asking themselves is, ‘can I put this person in front of clients?’ and ‘can this person handle the volume and complexity of the work?’ The 2.2 degree is no longer a consideration.

So, my point here is that if you were one of the many that lacked the grades to apply for training contracts at the top firms and you are still holding on to the mindset that those firms would never be interested in you then let that misconception go! It is a job rich and candidate poor market and with our help and guidance you can take full advantage of that despite a less than sparkling academic background.

For a confidential discussion regarding your career, please contact Angharad Warren at BCL Legal. Angharad specialises in the placement of solicitors into Birmingham’s leading commercial firms. If you are interested in opportunities elsewhere in the UK then we can put you in touch with the most suitable consultant to help you with your job search.

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