A-Levels/UCAS - Which Firms

Discussion in 'Applications Discussion' started by iamjeeoh, Aug 30, 2019.

  1. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Active Member

    Messages:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    16
    TCLA Credits:
    95
    Hi all,

    I am in the process of making applications for winter Vac Schemes, albeit a limited number of firms offer them.

    I am terribly keen on some of the magic circle firms but am conscious that 128 UCAS points (3 A-levels consisting of an A* and an A) does not meet their minimum criteria.

    Can any members give me some pointers on which firms take a more contextualized approach to applications.

    At present I've begun my application to Allen & Overy, but will be beginning to apply to Linklaters and Hogan Lovells shortly thereafter.

    Any response or feedback would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

    Messages:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    82
    TCLA Credits:
    1,220
    Allen & Overy
    Freshfields
    Clifford Chance
    Slaughters

    All use contextualised recruitment systems

    Linklaters no longer state a UCAS points requirement.

    So I don’t think any of them have the criteria you are suggesting they have
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Active Member

    Messages:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    16
    TCLA Credits:
    95
    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks for the reply. It's just a bit confusing sometimes as when you read resources like Chambers Student or Law Careers or Legal Cheek they all have a mismatch of information about recruitment criteria and information, then when the firm is silent on the point it becomes confusing. But thank you for clarifying that certainly makes me feel more positive about making applications to these firms.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

    Messages:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    82
    TCLA Credits:
    1,220
    Do you understand how contextualised recruitment works? If so, do you think you’d be flagged as a candidate who’d meet the criteria to be considered under a contextualised process?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. camjames

    camjames New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    11
    TCLA Credits:
    27
    Most firms will state minimum grade requirements, but some will put under their FAQs (or elsewhere on their careers site) that they take the whole application into consideration, and not meeting the grade requirements isn't on its own sufficient for your application not to be considered. White & Case for instance:

    "Whilst we prefer for candidates to have achieved AAB at A Level, we do look at the application as a whole and take into consideration any mitigating circumstances."

    Obviously, there are some firms that are a little stricter with this (Travers Smith springs to mind). Interestingly, Ashurt, a firm that previously stated you had little chance if you didn't meet their entry grades, has now changed their website, and it appears a little more supportive of applicants that don't meet their requirements.

    My advice would be to not immediately discount a firm you want to apply to simply because you fall a few UCAS points short. I know a few success stories of people who have ended up at top firms despite being a grade or two short. Just focus on why you're applying to that firm/why the Magic Circle, where else your strengths lie in your application, and write the best application you can.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Active Member

    Messages:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    16
    TCLA Credits:
    95
    Thanks for that, that’s reassuring and will definitely take that onboard.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    463
    Trophy Points:
    152
    TCLA Credits:
    771
    It never hurts to try and attend events and things to speak with recruiters in person as well about their processes and to also make a lasting impression! All the best :)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. RickyN7

    RickyN7 Standard Member
    Premium Member

    Messages:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    27
    TCLA Credits:
    36
    There is a flipside to this (in my experience, at least) and I do want to put it out there:

    I have ABB A-levels and applied for 7 insight schemes last year. My application was relatively weak (mostly because of a poor CV) but I believe the main reason for being rejected by 6 of them was because they all had AAB requirements.
    The one firm which interviewed me past the application stage happened to be the only one without minimum A-level requirements.

    Admittedly, this is anecdotal. However, the firms were all of comparable prestige and the only difference was the A-level minimum.
    Now, I realize there are some positive experiences out there - Boden was made an offer by Weil despite not having an AAB, if I remember correctly.
    However, it's not something I'd (personally) want to stake a potential TC offer on.

    P.S: Ashurst explicitly says it requires a 'minimum' of AAB at A-level - https://www.ashurst.com/en/careers/students-and-graduates/uk/vacation-schemes/what-you-need-to-know/
     
    #8 RickyN7, Sep 4, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

    Messages:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    82
    TCLA Credits:
    1,220
    You say you application was relatively weak. If that was the case, then it is not your A-levels alone that made this decision
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. RickyN7

    RickyN7 Standard Member
    Premium Member

    Messages:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    27
    TCLA Credits:
    36
    It may well be the case. Like I said, all of this is fairly anecdotal. Others have had better experiences.
    However, some grad recruiters have gone on record to state they automatically screen candidates out based on A-levels (Shearman & Sterling, for example). That, combined with my experience last year have made me a bit more skeptical about exceptions being made.
     
  11. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Active Member

    Messages:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    16
    TCLA Credits:
    95
    Exactly why I’m skeptical. I will go with my gut I think moving forward and only really aim for those firms that I don’t meet the minimum criteria for that I really really want to work for.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

    Messages:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    82
    TCLA Credits:
    1,220
    This is why understanding what an exception is to each firm you want to apply to is incredibly important.

    Too many assume that firms have a specific A-Level requirement when they don’t.

    Too many times I had candidates assume they needed AAB to even apply for one of the firms I worked for, when in reality we had trainees who had achieved B and C grades (one had CCD, another had no A-levels at all). These weren’t exceptions - they had strong applications they warranted progressing them to the next stage.

    For many firms, dodgy grades need to be looked at more like a strike against your application rather than an actual filter. Strike 1 is your dodgy grades, strike 2 could be that awful typo and strike 3 could be a simple misunderstanding of the type of law the firm does. People assume it’s the academics and you are out, but reality is there is usually other evidence to support making that decision (because in reality that is there for most applicants).
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  13. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Active Member

    Messages:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    16
    TCLA Credits:
    95
    I would think then it’s important majority of legal publications/online resources update their websites to identify this is the case, as a lot of reading of secondary material to the firms I’m applying to (websites and content not belonging to the firms) tends to suggest strict A-level requirements.

    But it’s definitely reassuring to hear about your experiences that in this day and age firms are not so hell bent on picking candidates based on a rather straight forward exam taken over 10 years ago (for some).
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

    Messages:
    204
    Trophy Points:
    82
    TCLA Credits:
    1,220
    Someone who did their A-levels 10 years ago+ is more likely to be an exception where they will have more relevant details on their CV.

    Firms will state A-levels grades as vast majority of their applications will only have A-level grades and possibly their first year module results. They will have far less life experience, and so more weighting is put on the information they have.

    It’s difficult for firms to state this on their websites as they don’t want 1000s of people with lower A-level grades applying if they haven’t got much (if any) evidence to balance it out
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    412
    Trophy Points:
    209
    TCLA Credits:
    170
    Hi Ricky,

    Yes you’re right in that I didn’t get AAB and still was offered and did a vacation scheme with Weil and I think this is because, as Jess said, the strength of my application made up for this.

    What I did was get in contact with the firms I was interested in and explain to them my circumstances which worked for me!

    I understand your scepticism but in my view, what have you got to lose by submitting the best application you can to a firm you want to work at? At worst you get rejected which is not a big deal at all but in my experience of talking to the firms, not having the a levels is not an instant no.

    Hope this helps! Please drop me a message if you want to chat about this further :)
     
    • Like Like x 3
  16. RickyN7

    RickyN7 Standard Member
    Premium Member

    Messages:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    27
    TCLA Credits:
    36
    Thanks for the input!

    Your experience is definitely encouraging and I am playing around with the idea of submitting an application or two in spite of these 'minimum' requirements this cycle, especially after hearing it from both you and Jessica.

    Out of curiosity, what do you think impressed the Weil recruiters most about that particular application? How did you find the scheme as a whole?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    412
    Trophy Points:
    209
    TCLA Credits:
    170
    I think the fact I had been fortunate enough to spend a week at the firm the previous year helped. I think I impressed a fair amount of people when I was there and that helped a lot. Equally, I think my video interview and application answers, along with my good work experience, allowed them to look past my lower a-levels.

    Regarding the scheme, I really enjoyed it and would really recommend it. The firm really looks after you but it is very assessment heavy and those seem to be the most important things re a TC which is a bit of a shame but I guess they have to differentiate candidates somehow...
     
    • Like Like x 2
  18. iamjeeoh

    iamjeeoh Active Member

    Messages:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    16
    TCLA Credits:
    95
    Thanks Jessica - this is really helpful insight :D.
     

Share This Page