Jan 29, 2023

Written By Nandini Jadeja

What universities do Magic Circle Firms recruit from?

Jan 29, 2023

Written By Nandini Jadeja

With the competition for training contracts becoming increasingly tough, candidates are becoming more conscious of their educational background as they pursue a place at a highly competitive Magic Circle firm. But which universities do Magic Circle Firms really recruit from? And is it necessary to attend one to stand a chance of securing a job at one of these firms? Here, we break down the facts.

Do firms look at your university during the application process?

The short answer is no. Even the top law firms do not specify attending a particular university, or particular group of universities in their application process. The grades you have achieved and your overall academic standard is more important than the university you attend.

For most firms, a 2:1 is the standard academic expectation, but neither the degree title or the university you obtain the degree from is specified. Some firms may specify a ‘strong 2:1’, which is generally seen as achieving between 65-70%. But even these firms do not specify a particular university.

What universities have lawyers at the top firms attended?

Statistically speaking, lawyers at the top firms are most commonly from Oxbridge and other Russell Group universities. However, having a degree from a Russell Group university does not automatically land you a vacation scheme or training contract, and candidates from these universities will be considered on exactly the same basis as a non-Russell Group university candidate.

How about regional firms?

It is also worth pointing out that different firms have different strengths, and thus do not all need the same type of candidate. A firm that has a high regional strength, for example, may be more inclined to hire a graduate from a local university and most of the applicants to that firm may, inevitably, be from the local area and may have attended a local university.

However, this doesn’t mean that they exclusively hire local candidates. If there’s a regional firm you’re interested in, it’s still worth applying, highlighting what you would bring to the role.

How are things changing?

Firms are increasingly employing a more holistic approach to each application, meaning that they will consider applications from a range of candidates on an individual basis. If, for example, you have mitigating circumstances which have affected your academic performance, a firm will take these into consideration during the application process.

There are also a number of options now available at some firms which do not follow the traditional training contract route. Solicitor Apprenticeships are one such example, and are an alternative to attending university, meaning that you can get started with a legal career without even attending university. It is worth doing some research to see if this is an option for you.


The bottom line

Although Russell Group candidates currently dominate the universities which lawyers at Magic Circle firms recruit from, you do not need to attend one of these universities to secure a position at a Magic Circle Firm. As firms recruit on a case to case basis, and are keen to make entering law as accessible as possible, the university you attend does not impact your application as long as you meet the rest of the criteria for that firm.


Choosing a University