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10 September 2020

Life after A-Levels

When learners received their A-Levels results this summer, nearly 40% of pupils received results lower than their predicted grades. The resultant stress caused by this was immense.


You are not alone

Our current cohort of A-Level students are experiencing circumstances no other generation has. Education interrupted by a global pandemic. The silver lining is that we are all facing the same pandemic at every layer, from the child starting nursery for the first time, to the office worker having their workday turned upside down to an elderly person’s isolation. That means, every other A-level student out there is facing the same hurdles, and no one is alone in this. In a competitive field like law, any edge you lose can feel huge. But there are many options out there for the ambitious, young lawyer.


The government’s U-turn

Now that the government has taken a U-turn and allowed teachers’ predicted grades to be accounted for in A-Level results, many students are able to achieve what they wanted. But the mistrust and disappointment in a system that let them down so badly will likely take longer to heal. With fresh accusations that grade inflation this year will have its own host of issues, it seems an A-Level student cannot win.

Perhaps no matter what the end result, an A-level student’s concern is wondering whether university is really, truly worth the hassle, whether it will give value for the cost and time spent and whether being out of full time work in an unstable, economic age is a viable option. Having the dream of landing their desired university place dashed has forced many to consider alternatives as well as rationalise the benefits/costs of attending university. After all, is a closed university campus really the answer to a law learner’s needs?


There is an alternative route available for learners

For the resourceful and ambitious student, there are alternative things that can be done to add value to whatever grades you gained through A-Levels. Some ideas of where a student can go from A-Levels:


A Gap year – taking a year to focus on other prospects before going back into education is not a waste of time, as many would believe. It can help a young person focus on testing out their desire career through work experience, help them decide what they are passionate about through volunteering. For young people aspiring to get into the legal profession, there are plenty of ways to start steps into the legal profession through a gap year, such as volunteering for CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau). The potential benefits of a gap year include good references from hard work, character development and world experience.


Apprenticeships – there has been a great drive in recent years to get people of all ages into apprenticeship schemes. Combining work experience with learning, this can be a valuable route into a career for a student and, for many, a better option next to a university.


Pursuing an industry specific, professional qualification – Another option is to pursue a specialist professional qualification. Many industries have these types of qualifications and it is a case of shopping around once a desired career pathway is discovered. For a student wishing to get into a subject like law, the CILEx route can be done immediately after A-Levels without needing to consider a degree. A law student starts with the Level 3 CILEx Professional Diploma in Law and Practice and then moves on to the CILEx Level 6 Higher Professional Diploma in Law and Practice. This leads to becoming a Chartered Legal Executive.

Other professional qualifications for someone aspiring for a legal career are the CLC (Council for Licensed Conveyancing) route into becoming a property or probate lawyer. A student can study the SQA/CLC Level 4 Diploma in Conveyancing Law and Practice or Probate Law and Practice with Law Training Centre once they turn 18 and be on their way to a debt free route into law.
For those wishing to get their foot into the legal sector without prior legal qualifications, the NALP Level 3 Diploma in Paralegal Practice is a great way to get a good scope for what studying law is like. If a student has an A-level in law behind them, they go straight to the NALP Level 4 Diploma in Paralegal Studies and kick start their future in law.


Go straight into work – Sometimes, going straight into work after finishing school can be beneficial. Then, with some experience under their belt and hopefully some cash to spare, pursuing education to better their prospects. For a learner breaking into law, figuring out the area they like to work in best and then qualifying at a later into their career may be more efficient. Combine work experience with something like CILEx, which can be done online through us while working, and a young person is on the way to becoming a fully-fledged qualified lawyer potentially earlier than their peers.


Case study: Robert Chawner and his choice to forego university

Robert, a bright young A-Level student, considered his options after A-Levels and decided to go for the CILEx route. It was not an easy choice, finding out about the CILEx qualifications almost by accident, but he considered things such as student debt and the length of time a degree might take. After enrolling with the Law Training Centre, he got on with his studies and continued to work in McDonald’s. On his first job application to a local firm, he landed a job and aims to be qualified once he becomes a CILEx Graduate. You can read his story here.

It may be rough out there. It may be unpredictable. Higher education may feel out of reach, but there is plenty you can do to get ahead and forge a future.


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