First of all - deep breath, calm down, relax, think positive. It’s all going to be ok
Your Training Contract is a exactly this, a contract, and it does require you to fulfil all obligations as stated by your employer. This means that if they’ve asked you to get a 2.1, you need to get a 2.1…
Law firms and their HR departments aren’t completely inhuman and they DO take into consideration things such as personal factors and problems. They obviously really like you (getting a TC for a Magic Circle firm means you impressed them - statistically you were in the top 2% of all people interviewed) and they won’t want to lose you as long as you can verify that you would have got at least a 2.1 had it not been for your current problems.
THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
…right now, not tomorrow but right now, you need to talk to your personal tutor at Uni and talk to HR at your MC firm.
You’ll need to talk to your Uni tutor to arrange for them to contact your MC firm by writing a letter colaborating your story. You might also need to get a doctor/lawyer/family member to write to your Uni tutor to collaborate your story before your Uni tutor will agree to do this.
You also need to call the HR at your MC firm and discuss where you stand. Talk about your problems and find out what their view of things are, and what they’ve done when this kind of thing has happened in the past (and believe me, this kind of thing does happen, all the time).
IF YOU CHOOSE TO DEFER:
If you do choose to defer your exams this summer to next summer your Magic Circle firm are 99.9% likely to offer you a TC for the consecutive year. As I said before, these people aren’t inhuman, they like you, they really want you to work for them. You are a valuable asset to THEM!!! Remember this… you are going to make them a LOT more money than they’ll be paying you. If you are really struggling, this might be the best option, but check with your firm’s HR before you talk about this with your Uni.
… you might still get your 2.1. Be confident. If you’ve been offered a TC it’s for a reason. If you’re studying at Oxford, it’s for a reason. I bet you ace your exams. Studying can give you a focus when you have problems, just make sure you keep calm and try to relax.
Good luck - I hope your problems work out (really, I know what it’s like, I had my own during my last year of Uni) and if you’d like to contribute to the forums or our wikis at Interview Questions for PwC, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Accenture and more - WikiJob regarding how you got your TC and the application process that you engaged in, it would be much appreciated!