Overcoming a disappointing result
I initially studied law at Warwick University between 1998-2001 although at that time had no definite direction: I was far more interested in sport and music back then and consequently did not fulfil my academic potential.
I moved to a firm of shipping insurers in London in 2007 to work as a Company Secretary. It was during this period that I began to reconsider my future and, through encountering some employment and commercial litigation, had my interest in the law renewed. In 2014 I embarked upon the Bar Vocational Course on a part-time basis whilst continuing to work full-time.
I was however conscious that I would need to address my earlier, relatively mediocre, degree result in order to obtain a training contract. This is a particular issue for mature candidates since upper second and first class degrees are now much more prevalent amongst recent graduates. Competition is fierce and I felt it was important to obtain good results on the BVC to offer a true and current reflection of my academic abilities and was committed to doing so. Without these subsequent results, I do not believe I would have progressed through the initial sift of applicants.
It is one thing to say that you are better than your earlier exam results suggest, but ultimately employers need proof of it and are highly unlikely to simply take your word for it!
I would also advise mature candidates to:
- find firms with an open-minded approach to mature candidates with a previous career. Review the profiles of partners and associates to see if they have alternative commercial experience;
- find a sounding board: someone working within the law who will offer an insider's view of the market. I forged a contact through a business relationship, and this person's input was invaluable to me as I considered applications and options; and
- think carefully about what you can offer. Differentiate yourself (in a positive way) from other candidates.