Tour Report #22: The trials and tribulations of applying for pupillage at the Bar?

The legal profession is under siege  from the legal aid reforms being proposed by the Lord Chancellor and access to justice – often for the most vulnerable in society – will be compromised.  I discussed this in relation to criminal law with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, in my last podcast.  

Some say that there is only a one in eight chance of a Bar student getting through to practice with a tenancy at present.  It doesn’t seem to be a good time to contemplate a career at the Bar. Senior members of the Bar have expressed concern at the numbers of aspiring barristers being churned out by the law schools and  that the Bar will become less diverse with only the middle class candidates, backed with family money presumably, able to contemplate a career at the Bar.

So what is it about the Bar that attracted a 42 year old ex-army tank commander – a non-commissioned officer with no A levels – to go to university after leaving the army, securing a First class degree in English Literature and Contemporary History from York St John University and a Very Competent in what was then the Bar Vocational Course,  and  apply for a pupillage at the Bar?

Well… I am about to find out. As part of my 12-18 month tour of the United Kingdom to see how law is practised in different parts of the country and what people think about our legal system,  today I am talking to Craig Lowe.

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2 thoughts on “Tour Report #22: The trials and tribulations of applying for pupillage at the Bar?

  1. Good interview!

    I am, in many ways, a non-traditional candidate (think 6 gap years). My interest in the bar was actually provoked by the fact that when I stumbled off the boat from Australia two years ago, I fell into a job at BPP running the support side of admissions for the BPTC at BPP.

    I absolutely loved the interaction with the BPTC applicants, many of whom are extremely interesting and erudite individuals (and genuinely nice!), and ultimately I was smitten by the traditions and usages of the bar, the history and the Inns of Court themselves. I’m doing an LLB part-time at BPP now (which I love, to be honest), and I suspect that my only realistic shot of obtaining pupillage is the “1st+BCL” strategy.

    MY day job is as an account manager for a (different) university, I’m also the branch secretary of the support staff union at that uni so I am obtaining something resembling real advocacy and employment law experience representing/accompanying colleagues in capability and disciplinary hearings, engaging in collective redundancy consultations, etc.

    Having started where I did, I’ve gone into this with my eyes open about how competitive it is and the natural instincts of the profession towards the traditional Oxbridge applicants. But I would be desperately disappointed to miss out, I don’t believe in fate but I do think that the bar is my niche in the world.

    Thanks again for the podcast!

  2. Pingback: Morning round-up: Tuesday 14 May | Legal Cheek

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