It’s not impossible to get a training contract with a 2:2, but it will make things harder. People with 2:1s and firsts struggle to get training contracts; having a 2:2 adds yet another hurdle.
So are you prepared to work extra hard? Do you really (and we mean really) want a training contract?
Applying for a training contract with a 2:2...
Many firms specify that a 2:1 is the minimum requirement for people applying for their trainee positions. Some simply won’t allow people with 2:2s to continue with the online application. It sounds harsh, but it’s the reality.
If you have genuine extenuating circumstances as to why you got a 2:2 or a third, then do mention this on application forms, or better still ring up the HR department and explain your circumstances.
Realistically, though, you should widen your net and try high street firms and medium-sized firms. Many of them won’t advertise opportunities, so you’ll need to do the legwork and get in touch with them.
The speculative application will be your best friend, as will work experience.
You’ll need to make your application stand out from the crowd. Getting plenty of work experience is very important, as is networking to find out about opportunities.
You’ll need to develop a strong sense of commercial awareness and, in short, do everything you can to impress law firms.
Sean Reeves, Trainee Solicitor, LLB (hons) 2:2, University of Derby
How did you manage to get a training contract?
In the end, it boiled down to luck and hard work.
Whilst I was doing my final exams for the LPC not only was I revising, but I was also calling each individual local law firm, asking for the recruitment partner or manager, and sending them a covering letter by email with my CV.
Each email was then followed up with a hard copy.
The firm I secured my training contract with initially replied to my email saying they had no vacancies, but the day they received my hard copy an assistant solicitor announced her retirement.
They were impressed with my CV and references and called me in for an informal chat for a position as a personal assistant.
After working for them for a while, I got a paralegal job offer from another firm. I handed in my notice, and after some discussions, they offered me a training contract, and I stayed at the firm.
Can you tell us a little bit about the firm you work for?
It’s your typical high street firm. It has recently changed from a partnership to a sole practitioner firm and we predominantly deal with non-contentious matters.
This has enabled me to gain a vast amount of experience with my own caseload together with the practice management side of the firm, including PII and Practice Certificates.
Do you feel that your 2:2 has held you back at all?
Yes, I always felt that my CV was in one of those piles that got thrown straight in the bin despite what firms said. Some firms actually would not let me continue with an online application because of my 2:2.
What advice would you give to students who have 2:2s and are looking for training contracts?
Experience is vital. You have to distinguish yourself from all the other candidates who have a 2:1 or even a first, and an easy way is to do that is to gain more experience.
Next, would be networking. Attend local Law Society events or events run by other professionals such as stockbrokers, estate agents and the like, as solicitors will always attend these.
If you have an interest in litigation, attend your local court and sit in the public galleries.
If you see a solicitor waiting by themselves (i.e. not with a client or reading documents), strike up a conversation with them and introduce yourself.
Finally most importantly never give up hope! For the record, I wrote nearly 1,000 letters and completed over 200 application forms and attended approximately 45 interviews before I secured my training contract.
Exploring other career options…
It’s incredibly tough getting a training contract with a 2:2, so it certainly won’t hurt to explore your other career options or have a backup plan.
Many go into paralegal work, become chartered legal executives or take on administrative positions at law firms. Some graduates who become paralegals after university go on to secure training contracts.
Alternatively, you can take all that legal knowledge and passion for law, and apply it to another career, such as accountancy or insurance, trading standards, advice work, the police force, human resources or health and safety.