In UK, getting a training contract depends on where your law degree is from
A degree from elite institutions is a trump card during the recruitment process for training contracts. Source: Shutterstock

To get a training contract in the UK, the competition starts from the moment you apply to university. More specifically, it starts from the second you decide which university you decide to go to.

Graduate from Oxford or Cambridge, and you’ll stand a higher likelihood than other Russell Group universities to land a training. Get your degree elsewhere and your chances fall significantly lower. This is the result from law blog Legal Cheek‘s study on the issue.

Based on the 20 firms with the biggest trainee cohorts, which agreed to release their admission information, data shows that Oxbridge graduates make up 18 percent of the average trainee cohort. For context, Oxbridge students only comprise only two percent of the entire law student demographic in the country.

Firms like Irwin Mitchell had zero trainees from Oxbridge while others like Weil Gotshal had a whopping 42 percent intake from the elite duo.

Law graduates have to undergo a period of recognised training ie. training contract, before they can qualify as a solicitor in the UK. Two years will be spent putting to use all the knowledge and skills you’ve learned in law school into a real firm environment.

Legal Cheek’s revelation should worry many international students, especially those with plans to work as a solicitor in the UK after graduation. Training spaces for a non-EU law student are already little compared to local and EU students. One student estimates there are only less than one thousand training contract vacancies international students can apply for out of the 5,000-6,000 that exist.

With competition to get into Oxbridge so rife, an international student’s chance to land a training contract would likely be drastically diminished as soon as he or she choses a non-Oxbridge and non-Russell Group university to attend.

However, one Cambridge law student acknowledges that the university’s name alone shouldn’t be the main barometer to judge a training contract candidate:

“Law firms want to see many other qualities [beyond intellect and good grades] in their applicants before giving them an offer. Having an Oxbridge degree doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is a team player or that they can communicate well and effectively with others.”

Another said many recruiters overvalue and are “dazzled” the Oxbridge degree. He disagrees, saying: “Oxbridge doesn’t always give you a ‘better’ law degree”.

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