in Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

Should I apply for a training contract

Question: I am thinking of going back to uni to do a GDL and work towards a career in law. The problem is I have pretty average A Level results, B,C,D and a 2:1 in business from an ex-poly. (I think I have always been capable, just not really motivated during A Levels.).  I really want to be a lawyer but what are my chances of getting a training contract? Do I have a realistic shot? Or should I spend my time and money on something else?

Answer: We often get people coming to see us for careers consultations with similar situations and wanting to know definitively whether they will get a training contract.

I think the first question to ask is “why do you want to be a lawyer”, not whether you will get a training contract.

The reason for this is because the response to the first question will usually result in the answer to the second.

If there is a genuine reason for wanting to be a lawyer, backed up by sound evidence, you will already be halfway there in any event.

Work experience is so often the key to most of these questions, and you should visit our Careers Shop to download the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment Free Guide to Finding a Training Contract and Work Experience.

Also research the cost of the GDL and the LPC, together with the average starting salary of a trainee solicitor outside the City law firms. Can you see yourself living on this salary? Have a look at our Salary Reviews page for a guide to salary levels after 3 and 5 years qualification.

This candidate’s A levels are not bad at all, and should not be a bar to getting a training contract with a provincial or high street firm. It is very likely he would struggle to get interviews at magic circle and firms in central London attracting 5000 applicants per training contract, as unfortunately firms do have to benchmark, and the best way to do this for legal recruitment is to use A levels and other academic results.

A 2.1 at business studies and average A level grades are not a bar to a successful legal careers.

Progressing in law is about getting your foot in the right door at the right time if you are not a conventional AAA, 2.1 red brick Uni, nice school straight into 300 partner central London practice!

Author: Jonathan Fagan MIRP MAC Cert RP LLM Solicitor (non-practising) – Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment ( – save time, skip the legal job boards and register with us! Jonathan Fagan is a specialist legal recruitment consultant, author of the Complete Guide to Writing a Legal CV and the Guide to Interviews for Lawyers. He has recruited for law firms across the UK and overseas in all shapes and sizes. If you have any questions that we have not covered above, please email us at

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