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Everyone's saying it's over for me & I haven't even began my journey

Armiie

Active Member
Nov 17, 2020
10
1
Hello, I hope this long post finds you well during such tough times.
I'd truly appreciate any advice.

I'm 19 and currently studying Computer Science at a non-RG University.
My goal has always been to eventually go into law, but following some difficult times during & after my A levels, I completely threw that dream away and chose to study CompSci.

The goal now is to graduate, do the GDL (soon to be called SQE), and get a career within corporate law.

Why do I want to all of a sudden do Law again? Honestly? Because I know deep down that I can, I'm not someone who lets her fears control her & I'm not about to become that girl now. I know I can do this, but others don't seem to think so.

I thought my plans to become a lawyer were ruined following my A level results when I found out I had received grades B and C in my exams. I went on a gap year & tried to sort myself out as much as possible (mentally & physically).

I did have extenuating/mitigating circumstances near the end of my GCSE's and in year 2 of my A level's (horrible timing).

I'm here to ask you for some advice.
To ask if you agree with the many others who have said it's hopeless for me to ever imagine I'd be able to work at a magic circle law firm in the future?

The long-term plan was to do my GDL (SQE), get into a magic circle law firm & eventually transfer over to the US, and work there.
But I have had many people tell me that I'm being "stupid" & it's "impossible".

I took a look at the websites of some MC (and other) firms. The following have said they (1) don't look at A level grades or (2) they take into account the whole application / mitigating circumstances:
- A & O
- Slaughter & May
- Clifford Chance
- Linklaters
- DLA Piper


Please be as honest as possible. I appreciate you taking the time to read this essay:p
Thank you :)
 
Last edited:

Legal_rawn

Legendary Member
Forum Winner
Dec 21, 2019
269
475
Hello everyone, I hope this long post of mine finds you well during such horrible times.
I'd truly appreciate any advice.

I'm 19 and currently studying Computer Science at a non-RG University.
My goal has always been to eventually go into law, but following some difficult times during & after my A levels, I completely threw that dream away and chose to study CompSci.

The goal now is to graduate, do the GDL (now called the SQE), and get a career within corporate law.
Why do I want to all of a sudden do Law again? Honestly? Because I know deep down that I can, I'm not someone who lets her fears control here & I'm not about to become that girl now. I know I can do this, but others don't seem to think so...

My plans were ruined following my A level results when I found out I had sadly only received grades B and C in my exams. I went on a gap year & sorted myself out.
I did have extenuating/mitigating circumstances - had spinal surgery & some other health problems during my A levels.

I'm here to ask you for some advice.
To ask if you agree with the many others who have said it's hopeless for me to ever imagine I'd be able to work at a magic circle law firm in the future?

The long-term plan was to do my GDL (SQE), get into a magic circle law firm & eventually transfer over to the US, and work there.
But I have had many people tell me that I'm being "stupid" & it's "impossible".

I took a look at the websites of some MC firms. The following have said they (1) don't look at A level grades or (2) they take into account the whole application / mitigating circumstances:
- A & O
- Slaughter & May
- Clifford Chance
- Linklaters


Please be as honest as possible. I appreciate you taking the time to read this essay of mine :p
Thank you :)
I don't think it is unrealistic at all. Many firms take people not studying law so the fact that you do computer science is not a problem. I literally attended a talk yesterday where one of the trainees at Slaughter and May had done exactly that degree. As for your A levels if they were from 2020 then everyone knows what happened across the country in terms of how they were awarded, so again not an issue.

Whilst many firms have A level requirements they are not the be all and end all. Plenty of people have brilliant A-levels and struggle to find a training contract. The best thing you can do is that if you feel you are lacking in one area to pull yourself up in other areas.

If you are only 19 you still have time to do this. Try to get the best grades you can in your degree as firms will look at both individual module marks and A-levels. Get yourself exposed as much as possible to the law through your extra circulars. I take economics and whilst this has required effort it is definitely possible. There are skills you will need to demonstrate you posses alongside academics. Do some research on the skills employers look for and then explore how you can develop them yourself to then evidence in your applications.

Plenty of people have stellar academics and still get rejected from MC firms. And I am sure there are people on this forum who can provide testimonies where they have achieved a TC at an MC firm without meeting the A-level requirements. Make sure to put your mitigating circumstances in your applications and they should be taken into account.

Essentially it is still possible, it may be a bit harder than if you had 3 A*s, but 100% achievable.

Hope this helps! I am in no way an expert but do not give up!
 
Last edited:

Legal_rawn

Legendary Member
Forum Winner
Dec 21, 2019
269
475
You don't? May I ask why as the rest of your response says something different... a typo?
Thank you for your response :)
Oh my gosh I am so sorry that first part was a typo! It totally is realistic! Sorry comes with typing on a phone! I meant unrealistic! I’ve edited my post so it should give the right message now!:)
I don't think it is realistic at all. Many firms take people not studying law so the fact that you do computer science is not a problem. I literally attended a talk yesterday where one of the trainees at Slaughter and May had done exactly that degree. As for your A levels if they were from 2020 then everyone knows what happened across the country in terms of how they were awarded, so again not an issue.

Whilst many firms have A level requirements they are not the be all and end all. Plenty of people have brilliant A-levels and struggle to find a training contract. The best thing you can do is that if you feel you are lacking in one area to pull yourself up in other areas.

If you are only 19 you still have time to do this. Try to get the best grades you can in your degree as firms will look at both individual module marks and A-levels. Get yourself exposed as much as possible to the law through your extra circulars. I take economics and whilst this has required effort it is definitely possible. There are skills you will need to demonstrate you posses alongside academics. Do some research on the skills employers look for and then explore how you can develop them yourself to then evidence in your applications.

Plenty of people have stellar academics and still get rejected from MC firms. And I am sure there are people on this forum who can provide testimonies where they have achieved a TC at an MC firm without meeting the A-level requirements. Make sure to put your mitigating circumstances in your applications and they should be taken into account.

Essentially it is still possible, it may be a bit harder than if you had 3 A*s, but 100% achievable.

Hope this helps! I am in no way an expert but do not give up!
 
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Manifesting

Esteemed Member
2020 Community Winner
Sep 11, 2020
98
360
A lot of firms have insight days and schemes for STEM students, including some of the MC firms. Make sure you research those and apply to the programmes that appeal to you. So with your background you are already better positioned than you think to get a foot in the door! :):)
 
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OB

Legendary Member
2020 Community Winner
Junior Lawyer
  • Feb 10, 2020
    777
    2,357
    Hello everyone, I hope this long post of mine finds you well during such horrible times.
    I'd truly appreciate any advice.

    I'm 19 and currently studying Computer Science at a non-RG University.
    My goal has always been to eventually go into law, but following some difficult times during & after my A levels, I completely threw that dream away and chose to study CompSci.

    The goal now is to graduate, do the GDL (now called the SQE), and get a career within corporate law.
    Why do I want to all of a sudden do Law again? Honestly? Because I know deep down that I can, I'm not someone who lets her fears control here & I'm not about to become that girl now. I know I can do this, but others don't seem to think so...

    My plans were ruined following my A level results when I found out I had sadly only received grades B and C in my exams. I went on a gap year & sorted myself out.
    I did have extenuating/mitigating circumstances - had spinal surgery & some other health problems during my A levels.

    I'm here to ask you for some advice.
    To ask if you agree with the many others who have said it's hopeless for me to ever imagine I'd be able to work at a magic circle law firm in the future?

    The long-term plan was to do my GDL (SQE), get into a magic circle law firm & eventually transfer over to the US, and work there.
    But I have had many people tell me that I'm being "stupid" & it's "impossible".

    I took a look at the websites of some MC firms. The following have said they (1) don't look at A level grades or (2) they take into account the whole application / mitigating circumstances:
    - A & O
    - Slaughter & May
    - Clifford Chance
    - Linklaters
    - DLA Piper


    Please be as honest as possible. I appreciate you taking the time to read this essay of mine :p
    Thank you :)
    What’s your reasoning to target Magic Circle specifically? You include DLA Piper in your list of firms who isn’t MC. Are there other firms you would want to work at? You’re very keen and I think you should stay motivated and work on making the best applications through study and extra-curriculars :)
     

    Armiie

    Active Member
    Nov 17, 2020
    10
    1
    What’s your reasoning to target Magic Circle specifically? You include DLA Piper in your list of firms who isn’t MC. Are there other firms you would want to work at? You’re very keen and I think you should stay motivated and work on making the best applications through study and extra-curriculars :)

    Hi Olivia,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply :)

    I honestly don't mind whether a firm is MC or not, at least for internships / work experience.

    In terms of training contracts / working as a lawyer at a firm, as long as it's global / reputable I'd be more than happy to work there.

    The main reason I was originally targeting MC firms is because (majority of the time) they are the ones who have law firms abroad & I'd like to eventually work in the US - thought it would increase my chances.

    Thank you for your kind comment. I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me :)
     
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    OB

    Legendary Member
    2020 Community Winner
    Junior Lawyer
  • Feb 10, 2020
    777
    2,357
    Hi Olivia,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply :)

    I honestly don't mind whether a firm is MC or not, at least for internships / work experience.

    In terms of training contracts / working as a lawyer at a firm, as long as it's global / reputable I'd be more than happy to work there.

    The main reason I was originally targeting MC firms is because (majority of the time) they are the ones who have law firms abroad & I'd like to eventually work in the US - thought it would increase my chances.

    Thank you for your kind comment. I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me :)
    I assume you're first year (?) so you have plenty of time to get involved, attend events and gather an idea of the type of law firm you would like to work for. You'll be a really attractive candidate for any firm who focus on innovation and legaltech (most firms these days!). Try and attend webinars with law firms, and see if your university's law society has any events of interest!
     

    WannabeSolicitor24

    Legendary Member
    Junior Lawyer 26
  • Apr 14, 2020
    247
    482
    Hey Armiie,

    Law Firms are really looking to diversify the type of candidate they hire, both in terms of uni and also subjects studied, so I think you will be fine!

    In terms of overseas opportunities, this website is a really good resource, and you can look at the Firms that have offices in X, offer international secondments, etc!

    https://www.chambersstudent.co.uk/law-firms/facts-and-figures
     
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    LS12

    Legendary Member
    Junior Lawyer
  • Apr 22, 2020
    264
    1,018
    Hey Armiie,

    I saw you also messaged me this but I’m going to answer on a public platform so if others find themselves asking the same questions they might see these answers too.

    firstly let me echo everything said previously, firms are valuing diversity more, and are no longer looking for a cookie cutter candidate. Likewise as others have said, strong academics throughout your degree and GDL/LPC (where self-funded) are significant to firms. Most do consider mit circs and it seems you've done your research on this. I really don’t think a goal of becoming a commercial lawyer is unreasonable. You just have to be determined.

    That being said, as someone who went to a non-Russel group university and resat an A-Level, I would say the key is being pragmatic. Training contract and vacation scheme applications are super competitive, and take a long time. I would definitely recommend establishing a relationship with the grad recruitment at the firms you’re interested in and asking them how their view on a-levels, mit circs etc. Very few firms will ignore mit circs but that doesn’t mean all firms give them equal weight either. Further to this, it’s important to remember magic circle firms are not the only international firms. There are a whole host of firms beyond the MC group that have offices abroad. I think taking time to get to know firms and selecting ones that really value what you value is important too. I know number of offices can seem like the most significant factor, but it doesn’t matter if the work is global when the culture doesn’t suit you, or the work doesn’t interest you. As Olivia mentioned firms specialising in data and legal tech would love you as a candidate.

    I studied law so I’m open to correction but I believe as a non-law student you apply later in your degree for most firms. That being said I think taking the time to really get to know firms is key. Reach out and create organic and meaningful connections with people at the firm. Attend events. Open days. As a non-law student it can sometimes be harder to prove you have an interest in law so beginning early is really helpful to applications.

    My other advice is to be resilient. You have to believe in yourself so that others can see you’re worth believing in. Try not to focus on what you perceive as flaws and instead nurture your strengths.
     

    Armiie

    Active Member
    Nov 17, 2020
    10
    1
    Hey Armiie,

    I saw you also messaged me this but I’m going to answer on a public platform so if others find themselves asking the same questions they might see these answers too.

    firstly let me echo everything said previously, firms are valuing diversity more, and are no longer looking for a cookie cutter candidate. Likewise as others have said, strong academics throughout your degree and GDL/LPC (where self-funded) are significant to firms. Most do consider mit circs and it seems you've done your research on this. I really don’t think a goal of becoming a commercial lawyer is unreasonable. You just have to be determined.

    That being said, as someone who went to a non-Russel group university and resat an A-Level, I would say the key is being pragmatic. Training contract and vacation scheme applications are super competitive, and take a long time. I would definitely recommend establishing a relationship with the grad recruitment at the firms you’re interested in and asking them how their view on a-levels, mit circs etc. Very few firms will ignore mit circs but that doesn’t mean all firms give them equal weight either. Further to this, it’s important to remember magic circle firms are not the only international firms. There are a whole host of firms beyond the MC group that have offices abroad. I think taking time to get to know firms and selecting ones that really value what you value is important too. I know number of offices can seem like the most significant factor, but it doesn’t matter if the work is global when the culture doesn’t suit you, or the work doesn’t interest you. As Olivia mentioned firms specialising in data and legal tech would love you as a candidate.

    I studied law so I’m open to correction but I believe as a non-law student you apply later in your degree for most firms. That being said I think taking the time to really get to know firms is key. Reach out and create organic and meaningful connections with people at the firm. Attend events. Open days. As a non-law student, it can sometimes be harder to prove you have an interest in law so beginning early is really helpful to applications.

    My other advice is to be resilient. You have to believe in yourself so that others can see you’re worth believing in. Try not to focus on what you perceive as flaws and instead nurture your strengths.

    Hi Lydia, thank you very much for your response.

    You mention taking this time to create organic and meaningful connections with people at the firm, do you think it would be possible for me (a non-law) student to get a legal internship now?

    What would you advise I do to prepare me / help me become a competitive applicant? How do I establish a good rapport with firms, especially during a time like this?

    I'd like to say thank you again for getting back to me so promptly :)
     

    LS12

    Legendary Member
    Junior Lawyer
  • Apr 22, 2020
    264
    1,018
    Hi Lydia, thank you very much for your response.

    You mention taking this time to create organic and meaningful connections with people at the firm, do you think it would be possible for me (a non-law) student to get a legal internship now?

    What would you advise I do to prepare me / help me become a competitive applicant? How do I establish a good rapport with firms, especially during a time like this?

    I'd like to say thank you again for getting back to me so promptly :)
    When I say creating organic and meaningful relationships that doesn’t have to come out of legal internships. I’m not the best person to ask in terms of getting internship opportunities because I’m a law graduate who is working so I’m not the most clued up. That being said, as a candidate go look at what’s available. If nothing’s open to you as a non-law student right now then attend events, webinars etc.

    I’ve said this to a lot of my peers who have asked ‘how can I do this considering were in the midst of a global pandemic’. Speaking candidly I think that the changes caused by covid have only widened access to the legal industry. Suddenly more candidates can attend events without the firm being worried about the number of students roaming their offices. It’s no longer the case that firms are only attending specific university law fairs, it’s now legal cheek law fairs, aspiring solicitor events. Law firms are looking constantly at how to make meaningful connections with talent.

    when I say meaningful relationships, I mean attending events and reaching out to speakers after. Spam messages that are copy and pasted are obvious and can be annoying. So when you’re reaching out to (already very busy) legal professionals, let it be with an insightful question or responding to a specific comment they made. And also don’t just message everyone, I make effort to only message people I find really exciting/inspiring etc because I think an authentic network is key.

    also I think look, there aren’t two candidates on this platform that have had the same journey. You need to find what works for you. And whilst this platform can be helpful for signposting to resources or providing clarity on applications, inevitably the answer on how to improve yourself falls to you. Law firms look for skills, grades, experience and personal attributes. Four very broad categories that are yours for the shaping. Try focus less on what other people recommend and instead just keep this awesome passion and follow your gut!
     

    Jony

    Legendary Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Oct 19, 2020
    182
    933
    Armiie! As a third year law student, I'm actually really excited for you.

    You have your WHOLE journey ahead of you and there's so much potential that you could definitely wield when it comes to your second year and you're beginning to apply for things.

    Resonating with what LS12 mentioned - go for these online legal events. They're SO easy to attend. Read up about the firm a little bit beforehand - what are their roles in diversity + inclusion? What is something interesting they're doing recently - is it a NewLaw department they've just set up? Then position yourself: "I'm currently a student in computer science who's reaaaally interested about how your firm is dealing with zxc ... maybe automation! How is that working out for you as a worker and for the firm as a macro whole?"

    Be nice, be genuine, and the people on the calls will remember your face. You have THREE years to make an impression! Sign up for campus ambassador things, prepare early for vac schemes by asking people from the firm how their experiences are and meeting grad rec and letting them know who you are, and be friendly and yourself! Good things will come to you.

    On the side, try to find a niche. Maybe work on your own contract management system on github! Or code up a RPA productivity robot. I wish I had a STEM background like you - I'm in advanced RPA training but oh what I would kill for to get a foundational training in computer science - it is SUCH a valuable skill, especially for law firms looking to diversify their recruitment in this time!

    And get on linkedin, write meaningful messages to people, and be friendly!

    You're going to be amazing. I'll come back to this forum in 3 years and whether you're in a MC firm or not, I know that you'll have tried your best and you'll be in a place that you definitely are settled :)

    neotato
     

    Paralegal178

    Esteemed Member
    Future Trainee
    May 27, 2019
    84
    150
    Hello, I hope this long post finds you well during such tough times.
    I'd truly appreciate any advice.

    I'm 19 and currently studying Computer Science at a non-RG University.
    My goal has always been to eventually go into law, but following some difficult times during & after my A levels, I completely threw that dream away and chose to study CompSci.

    The goal now is to graduate, do the GDL (soon to be called SQE), and get a career within corporate law.

    Why do I want to all of a sudden do Law again? Honestly? Because I know deep down that I can, I'm not someone who lets her fears control her & I'm not about to become that girl now. I know I can do this, but others don't seem to think so.

    I thought my plans to become a lawyer were ruined following my A level results when I found out I had received grades B and C in my exams. I went on a gap year & tried to sort myself out as much as possible (mentally & physically).

    I did have extenuating/mitigating circumstances near the end of my GCSE's and in year 2 of my A level's (horrible timing).

    I'm here to ask you for some advice.
    To ask if you agree with the many others who have said it's hopeless for me to ever imagine I'd be able to work at a magic circle law firm in the future?

    The long-term plan was to do my GDL (SQE), get into a magic circle law firm & eventually transfer over to the US, and work there.
    But I have had many people tell me that I'm being "stupid" & it's "impossible".

    I took a look at the websites of some MC (and other) firms. The following have said they (1) don't look at A level grades or (2) they take into account the whole application / mitigating circumstances:
    - A & O
    - Slaughter & May
    - Clifford Chance
    - Linklaters
    - DLA Piper


    Please be as honest as possible. I appreciate you taking the time to read this essay:p
    Thank you :)


    Hey, I was in a really similar position to you in terms of grades and attending a non RG uni and I’m starting my TC at a magic circle firm in the next couple of months.

    I would really echo what everyone else has said so far - it will be a little more difficult to secure a TC at a commercial law firm but by no means is it impossible!

    You’re a first year so really focus on your grades throughout your degree, try and do as well as you possibly can. You’ve got plenty of time! Firms look at all of your grades, including first year, so work hard.

    Next, bulk up your CV with extra curriculars and/or work experience. Develop and work on interesting hobbies, firms will be super interested in your computer science degree so think about how that will set you apart from other applicants.

    Work on building up your knowledge of commercial law firms and commercial awareness more generally. Network with law firms to help you decide which firms you want to apply to and to give you solid reasons for pursuing a career in commercial law. Look at law firm (online) events, LegalCheek events, insideSherpa internships etc. I’d also join your uni’s Law society and get involved however you can.

    You can absolutely do this and don’t listen to those who tell you it’s impossible!
     

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