I came to the Bar in the traditional and perhaps, the expected way: A-Levels, University, BPTC, Pupillage and Tenancy, all within a pretty short time frame which I am extremely grateful for. But I have experienced my fair share of unexpected bad grades, financial restraints, terrible interviews and lots of rejections for Pupillage too.
I had studied A-Level Law and although I really enjoyed it, I only achieved a “C” as a final grade; it had never crossed my mind to pursue it as a career or even study it any further. Not only did I seem to be less than brilliant at it, I had no connections to the legal profession either. I travelled America for a year after 6th Form, but having spoken to friends back home studying Law, I felt like studying Law at degree level would, a) be something I would enjoy and b) have good career prospects, and so I started studying Law and Criminal Justice at LJMU in Autumn 2014.
I had an absolute ball at University, and in second year, I had the opportunity to work in Malta at a Law firm. Here, I was exposed to both a solicitor type role, and a barrister type role. It was the advocacy side which I enjoyed the most and led me to seriously consider a career at the Bar. During third year I opted for Mooting as a module and competed in the Essex Court Chambers National Mooting Competition, making it to the final at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was a realistic glimpse of what life could be like if I were to become a Barrister.
I graduated LJMU with a First Class Honours and was accepted onto the BPTC at BPP Manchester. I applied for pretty much every scholarship and was granted the BPP Excellence Award. I also applied to do a Masters alongside the BPTC to obtain the Masters Loan to help with the fees, as well as working part time too. The BPTC was the year I found most difficult. Throughout this year there were many applications for pupillage, most of which were rejected on paper and the ones I did have interviews for, safe to say did not go very well. I managed to pass the BPTC with a “Very Competent”, but I was still left “pupillage-less” at the end of it.
Not having obtained Pupillage by the end of the BPTC was a huge worry for me, and I wondered whether it would ever be obtained. The odds are stacked against us from the beginning, and as each rejection came, I felt as though all the hard work would be going to waste. However, you have to be in it to win it, and so I carried on applying. A week before I was due to be called to the Bar, I had a pupillage interview at Atlantic Chambers.
I had always been extremely nervous for pupillage interviews, but something felt different this time around. It was 2 days later I received a letter in the post offering Pupillage to commence under the supervision of Amanda Howard in January 2019. Pupillage was fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better Chambers nor a better Pupil Supervisor to experience my first glimpse of life as a Family Barrister on the Northern Circuit. I was offered tenancy, and have been a Tenant at Atlantic Chambers since January 2020.
Coming to the Bar in this way is a risk, so much time, effort and money goes into becoming a Barrister, without the guarantee of a career at the Bar at the end of it. But I looked at it as a means to an end to get where I wanted to be, and yes it is a bumpy ride, but a ride that is definitely worth it.