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Five Things I Learnt from BPP’s Barrister Careers Workshop

A barrister stands before a court of law giving evidence to a court of law

BPP University Law School held a Careers in Law workshop last week that discussed the steps involved in securing a highly competitive pupillage.

Current BPTC student, Tajwar Shelim went along to hear more about how to become a barrister. These are the top five things he took away from the event.

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1. How to land a pupillage

Pupillages are tough and as such standing out is key. More than 1400 students take the BPTC every year, and on average, there are approximately 433 pupillages given annually. Those seeking pupillage have five years to attain an offer after completion of the BPTC.

To apply for pupillage, one must go through the Pupillage Gateway, and must have completed the BPTC.

2. Building your CV

There are many aspects that make up an impressive CV. BPP detailed a number of things pupillage applicants should try to include if they want to be successful and make a positive and lasting impression.

If opportunities don’t arise, make them yourself. Establish a law/mooting/debating society to increase your experience and go the extra mile.

3. BPTC

Studying the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) provides the best possible preparation for becoming a barrister.

The course can be studied over a year full-time or two years if you opt to study part-time.

Dedicated BPTC course providers, like BPP, also offer mock interviews and career assistance to help boost your employability, confidence and experience.

4. How Pupillage Interviews Work

Round 1 

The first round of pupillage interviews provide an introduction and then go on to test you for the relevant and desired competency attributes, as well as your motivation for wanting to become a barrister and knowledge of the profession.

You’re likely to find the advocacy exercise in a criminal set too. It’s important you prepare thoroughly for this exercise, which means knowing the structure and audience for the different types of advocacy exercises you could encounter.

Round 2 

Method 1 – You’ll experience a brief at the chambers or a list of topics to debate or produce a written statement.

Method 2 – You’ll complete a written exercise beforehand, and experience an in-depth discussion at the chambers.

For criminal pupillages, you’ll mostly draft bail applications, plea in mitigation, hearsay, bad characters or opening speech forms.

Remember to be realistic about the time given, and what you can accomplish in that time.

5. How to Succeed in Interviews

It’s very important for an aspiring barrister to know their audience and chambers. Look at profiles of recent tennants and research the work that has been carried out by the chambers.

Have answers prepared for why you have picked a particular chambers, why you’re interested, why they should select you and why you have chosen to become a barrister and not a solicitor.

Competency questions are not to be overlooked either. You can expect to be asked what you think is the most important skill for a barrister to have, as well as examples of when you had to convince others, or a type of challenge.

Sometimes the interviewers will disagree with you, but they want to know you act when challenged.

Words: Tajwar Shelim

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