A first-class career with a 2.2 degree

Monica Virdee reflects on her own career, and provides advice to graduates with a 2.2 degree on how to stand out and have a great career in law.

Class of students

Picture this: it’s the first day of law school, and you’re about to embark on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) journey. It’s your turn to speak. “I got a 2.2 in my law degree”, you say. There’s an awkward silence.

I remember a fellow student informing me that I would really “struggle in the legal field” for the rest of my life with a 2.2. For the first time, I questioned my own abilities.

For those of you who achieved a 2.2 in law: first, well done. Second, you will be all too familiar with the above scenario and being made to feel embarrassed that you achieved a 2.2.

The challenges

My 2.2 degree brought with it its challenges.

Much like other law graduates, I was desperate to get a training contract, or at the very least land a paralegal role. I was ready and willing for the sacrifice and hard work.

Every day I would send out countless CVs and cover letters to law firms up and down the country, hoping someone would give me a chance to showcase my skills.

After three months, I realised it was a bit hopeless. The most acknowledgment I got – if I was lucky – was an email informing me that my application was rejected.

I accepted that my 2.2 might be the reason I did not stand out, and knew the onus was on me to do something about it.

I refused to give up. I knew what I had to offer was just as good as any other candidate and I had the right to be given a chance. I needed to make myself stand out in other ways and not constrain my job search to training contracts and paralegal roles alone.

Enhance your CV

If you’re a 2.2 law graduate feeling apprehensive about your future, I want to reassure you: you can have a brilliant legal career to be proud of.

You don’t need to only apply for training contracts.

Here are some tips as to how you can:

  • add to your CV during your job search
  • research roles that utilise your legal skills, and
  • assist your journey in other ways

Work for free

Obviously, this is not sustainable long-term, but voluntary work placements are a great way of adding to your CV.

I approached local firms in person and handed in my CV and cover letter for the attention of the senior partner.

I managed to get voluntary work placements with two local firms and a London firm.

Volunteer

Find out how you can get involved in your local community. I volunteered at several organisations including the Citizen Advice Bureau and my local council.

I also supported charities and other projects at my local temple.

Teach English as a foreign language

Not only will this look great on your CV, but the sense of achievement you also get from this is invaluable.

You can reach out to groups in your community to assist local residents with their English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualification.

Do a short course

There are lots of short courses you can do that will raise your profile and make you stand out.

I completed a Diploma in Securities and Investments. This certainly added to my CV, but it has also come in handy during my work in the financial regulation field.

Use LinkedIn and apply for roles that will use your legal skills

LinkedIn has helped me many times to get interviews and secure employment.

Connect, network and send as many instant messages as you can.

Take advantage of the LinkedIn Premium function – it really works. When job hunting, try searching for alternative job roles such as ‘investigator’, ‘adjudicator’ and ‘complaints handler’ to get started.

Consider government, ombudsman and regulatory bodies

These organisations are always looking out for legal graduates: the Ombudsman Association and Working 4 an MP websites are great places to start your search.

I’m not a qualified solicitor, but I've had a successful career in the legal field, all with help from my 2.2.

Whether it be in a law firm or not, it's possible to shape your own legal career using your 2.2 in law, a career that you and others around you can be proud of.

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