Article by Giovanni Parcou
Minimum entry requirements (MER) are a common element of law firm application forms, as well as many other corporate and commercial job forms. Whilst most employers will review applications holistically it has to be emphasised that MERs are there for a reason and candidates should consider these in their search for training contracts, pupillage, vacation schemes and internships.
However, a large number of firms are now becoming more diverse, abolishing or lowering A-level requirements, and adopting contextualised recruitment so that you are assessed against the circumstances your academic results are achieved in.
Some firms will be looking at A-level grades at the very beginning of the application process to assess whether or not you meet their minimum prescribed number of A-levels or UCAS points. Most firms will only count your best three grades, and General Studies is not usually counted (however, Citizenship Studies, or anything similar is in-fact counted as an A-level as this is a separate course under AQA examinations).
The nature of your A-levels do not matter, whether you studied options such as maths or science, art or film, firms will be more interested in how you performed. However, it will always be worth contacting graduate recruitment to enquire whether facilitating subjects are preferred or not.
There will inevitably be firms in the market who are more selective than others, but this recruitment method of screening based on A-levels should not be seen as a barrier. If anything, it should make your job easier by narrowing down the type of firms you will be applying too.
With the above in mind, if in doubt, contact the graduate recruitment team at the respective firm to clarify any details you are unsure of.
Most firms for training contracts require you to have achieved a minimum of a 2:1 at Degree level. There are some firms and organisations which accept candidates with a 2:2 such as:
And many more…
Despite these firms presenting a very flexible approach to graduate recruitment, your application will be competing amongst the mix of candidates who hold 2:1’s, first class marks and possibly candidates who have shown further academic achievement in various other forms.
By having a 2:2 you can still pursue a legal career with many of the firms in the market, but you will need to demonstrate how you have improved since achieving your degree and how your recent experiences illustrate key legal skills (attention to detail, time management, client care et al).
If you are applying to commercial City firms, make sure your module results reflect your interests in commercial City law. Having been advised by a Magic Circle practice, modules related to Contract and Tort are key, and it is important you achieve 60% or higher.
Whether you have re-sat exams during your A-levels or for specific modules at University, give a narrative of the re-sits you have undertaken.
This part of the application for is not designed to catch you out, but if for instance you sat an exam and achieved average mark, and then for whatever reason resat said exam to achieve a higher (improved) mark, then explain how this upward trajectory is an illustration of your development.
For whatever reason you feel affected your grades at any point during your academic history, mitigating circumstances should be filled in.
Firms are fair and it will allow them to make a decision on whether your academic achievements fit their requirements from the context within which you achieved them.
Being late to an exam, missing a deadline or being run down with a case of the ‘Fresher’s flu’ will not wash with graduate recruitment teams – and do not lie either! Provide an honest narrative for graduate recruitment to get a better understanding of your circumstances.
The only thing left to say is to make those applications within good time! Always remember, the worst that can happen is for them to say no.