in Careers Advice, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

Should I take my A Levels again to get better grades after finishing my degree?

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Q: I graduated from university with a 1st class degree, and have secured a masters at Oxford starting October. My first language is Spanish, and when l moved to the UK at 16 l did not know enough English to score top grades at A-Level. I obtained ACC and have been carrying the mark of these results ever since. These grades have stopped me from making it past the online application forms in City firms. I was hoping with your experience in recruitment, you could give me an opinion in terms of my options.

1. Take a year out and take A levels again.

  1. Work as a paralegal for a firm in the hope that they will give me a training contract at some point.
2. Work as a paralegal for a firm in the hope that they will give me a training contract at some point.

A: ‘Should I do my A Levels again’ is a perpetual question for a lot of candidates. A Levels remain a very important part of recruitment but I am not sure undertaking them again would add very much. Top law firms are not looking particularly for high grades per se, they are looking for consistency in your academics to date in the hope this shows a well balanced all rounder who will make a good lawyer. If you were to retake A levels I think HR departments would be left scratching their heads! I suspect your Spanish fluency may well come to your aid at some point and an opening will happen for you. I have to say that your masters is non-legal related which makes me query how committed to a legal career you are and also wonder exactly what legal work experience you have to date that may assist a recruiter at a law firm determine they want to progress. Your 1st class degree is a bonus that will hopefully make employers overlook your A levels, which are not that bad at all in reality. My advice would be to get as much legal work experience as you can to determine exactly which areas of law you want to practice in the first place – at the moment you seem to be applying blindly and this is not going to assist you. Without work experience you have no way of knowing what fields of law you want to specialise in.

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 17 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 www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk