BPP Law School- From Research to Reality Event

Hi everyone!
This post will be about the hints, tips and tricks passed down by BPP Law School from their event, ‘From Research to Reality’ and how you can help yourself, as an aspiring barrister, decide on what areas you might like to practise in, to what type of chambers you want to belong to, and much more.

Quote of the night- “The Bar is an extraordinary place”

(Vincenzo Esposito, barrister and BPTC tutor at BPP Law school, Birmingham)
5 Steps to Success
BPP outlined the 5 steps you can take to gain a better understanding of yourself and where you need to push yourself in the future as a BPTC law student and advocate. The five steps are as follows:
  1. Self evaluation– Think about yourself, what you are like as a person. Are you confident at public speaking? Are you a good negotiator or mediator? Perhaps you like to take more of a back seat, analyse and draft documents. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, whether you are more emotional or more analytical and practical in dealing with problems. This will help you to identify particular areas of law that might suit you best as a barrister.
  2. Decide on your criteria– The colleagues you want to work with, the training you need, what work/life balance you want, how much responsibility you wish to take on and when, the type of clients you want to deal with, whether your future employer can subsidize your training etc This will help you to identify what kind of barrister you want to be and where you want to work in the future, to really help you focus your research in future employers/chambers.
  3. Match your criteria to an employer– There are a number of ways for you to find out about chamber sets that suit the priorities and criteria you have already thought about. Some suggestions are looking at: Chamber Student, Legal 500, LawCareers.net, attend employment fairs, attend employer panel sessions, workshops etc and attend insight days, both for chambers and Inns of Court. You can also look on individual chamber websites to get a feel for the set, and maybe apply for a mini-pupillage in one or two that interest you.
  4. Complete your skills analysis– Think about your working strengths and weaknesses. Some things to consider are: problem solving, adaptability and flexibility, leadership, team work, business understanding, IT and numeracy, communication etc Think about how strong or weak you are in these areas, and this will help to refine further in your head what areas of law you might be best at, and, depending on this result, find chambers that offer you the best potential in those practise areas.
  5. Mind the gap!– Thinking on these skills, think about how you might improve in some areas. Barristers need to be able to market themselves, so having some ideas on how to build up your practise is essential to a long and successful career at the Bar.
Great, you’ve now put yourself through some existential crisis and are thinking to yourself, ‘Well, what now?’ Well below we have included some general tips on how you can gain more information about the Bar, and what steps to take as a University student.
Tips for Picking Areas of Practise
  • Think about your skills, what you like to do, and how these might translate to an area of law
  • Think about what you like to study, your interests, the issues you are passionate about
  • Think about the nature of that area of law; is it organic and constantly changing, is it volatile, is there a demand for it, are there chambers that are experts in that area, is it publicly funded or privately so
  • Get work experience; pick an area and run with it. Shadow a barrister in the area, shadow a solicitor in that area, ask to visit sets of chambers. See that law being used in practise!
  • Look at employer websites, the skills they expect of you and trainee profiles to find out what they did to succeed
Tips for Finding Inns of Court (An Inn is for Life, not just for Christmas)
Every barrister needs to join an Inns of Court, and there are 4 altogether; Inner Temple, Gray’s, Lincoln’s and Middle Temple. All of them are unique, all of them gravitate towards different areas of law, and each of them require you to under go training and qualifying dinners post graduation. You can join them as early as your first year, but you must join them before you commence your BPTC. So here are some tips for considering which one to join:
  • Look at the areas their members tend to practise in
  • Look at their opportunities to fund you
  • Look at their training/educational opportunities
  • Take tours of them, get a feel for them
  • The social events they put on (which has the best food? The best alcohol selection?)
Tips for Finding a BPTC Provider
Sorry to say, but the hard work doesn’t end when your higher education studies do. The BPTC is the training course for all barristers, or the GDL if you are converting your degree (God speed to you) So here are some tips when thinking about which provider to choose:
  • The employment rate post qualification
  • Where their centers are located; are you Birmingham born and bred, or prefer the bright lights of London?
  • What opportunities do they offer if you don’t attain pupillage immediately?
  • Take tours of their facilities
  • Do they have a lot of student/tutor contact
What can you do right now?
  1. Join an Inn- take the tours, research them
  2. Get minis/work experience in areas of interest
  3. Observe court sessions
  4. Get non-legal work experience
  5. Volunteer
  6. Join societies (yes, they like people who have lives)
  7. Compete in law competitions
How you go about these steps is completely up to you, and at what stage you do them is completely up to you. This is just a general guide on what you can do to help yourself, and to start planning what you might like to do post graduation. The key is to get as much insight and experience as possible, and that does require you to put yourself out there. Find your own personal brand and market yourself!