Determined Law Graduate looking for a break
in Careers Advice, Legal Profession, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

Determined Law Graduate looking for a break

If you have a third class law degree, is it the end of your career?


I am writing to seek some advice with regards to my current career situation. I have achieved 3 A-Levels at BBC. I have completed my LLB Law degree but achieved a third due to unforeseen and unfortunate personal and health problems in my third year. I went on to complete CILEX and have passed all my courses and have 2 years work experience in a small Conveyancing firm. I was made redundant as there where financial problems with the firm and I was the only other employee left. However I do want to expand and achieve more.

I am looking into Immigration and further Employment Law. I do not want to give up and want a Law career. I am disappointed and embarrassed of my degree classification as I know I am worth more than that.  My confidence has been knocked. What can I do to get myself back out there to have the career I’ve worked all my life for to support my family? Are there opportunities for me to work from home in line with a Law career? To possibly build up from there until my child reaches school.

I do know what I’m doing. I just need the chance to show someone properly.

Will I ever get the chance to prove my worth?

We received the above request for advice from Sarah (name changed).

Advice as follows:

It seems as if your career to date has been seriously affected by your third class degree, but probably not in the way you think. I suspect a lot of the effect has been in your mind rather than in actual job opportunities.

You don’t seem to have accepted the harsh reality that it doesn’t matter what your personal and health problems were, you have a third class degree. I have written copious amounts of articles on the subject of “mitigating circumstances” and came to the conclusion long ago that generally they don’t exist. This is because you cannot blame extenuating circumstances for making an error at work so why can you for academic failures? You have clearly taken the right steps to mitigate practically rather than blaming the health issues etc..You have 2 years worth of experience as a CILEX (Legal Executive) in Conveyancing. There are 100s of LPC graduates out there with 2.1 law degrees who would kill for this type of work on their CVs.

Firstly you need to be realistic. You have 2 years of conveyancing experience. Why would you then want to start again and look at immigration and employment? Neither is usually very well paid and employment law work in a high street setting is virtually non-existent at the moment (courtesy of a government decision to charge tribunal application fees and a small legal outfit called Penninsula Law sweeping up the work). Immigration work tends to be at the bottom of the pile and not really an area to consider unless you want to earn a low salary or have a particular ambition to do this work for peanuts (which is what most immigration lawyers get paid).

I think you need to look at conveyancing – there are opportunities to work part time for example if you get out there and look. Conveyancing firms are starting to employ homeworkers to complete the work – for example My Home Move near Leicester now employ conveyancers across the UK working remotely.

You just need to get out there and look. The 3rd class degree shouldn’t define you anymore. You should be happy describing yourself as a Conveyancing Executive or an ILEX Legal Executive specialising in conveyancing. Forget the degree – I bet everyone else has when they look at your CILEX qualification.

Good luck!

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at