Sunday, 3 May 2009

Barrister? Oh, I think Starbucks will be at the careers fair

In the aftermath of the horror that was my battle of attrition against the never ending horrors pouring through The Portal, I felt it time for my next blawg entry.

I have been amazed in the recent months of the ignorance of those purported careers advisors at my seat of learning. Feeling suddenly immersed in terror at my lack of knowledge about all things pupillage I frantically began a classic pincer movement on my ignorance: internet research and careers advice. Flank the bastard, and crush him!

The first of these proved much useful, and started my own foray into the world of blawgging, spurred on by the accounts of others. So began my own furtive writings.

The second however, made me quickly realise that the careers advisors, and indeed my department, were a steaming pile of horse manure. I attended every law related careers talk I could find, of which there were many. Unfortunately, the sum total of the knowledge they had on pupillage could be fitted on the back of a beer mat. In crayon.

“Barristers? They make coffee right?”

My university long ago sold its soul to the money making dream, and cashed in on the lucrative LPC. I can hardly blame them; I can count on one hand the number of my peers foolish enough to want to pursue a career at the Bar, but would struggle to beat off the solicitor wannabes with a machine gun and the killing skills of Rambo. This does not mean that we should be ignored! We have rights! We are humans! And the barriers to entry are a lot higher.

My university has wholeheartedly left those of us wanting to work as barristers out in the cold. There are lectures who can get you interviews at firms at the drop of a hat if they think you are good enough, endless troops of firms willing to wine and dine all and sundry to make themselves attractive, and a dedicated law careers advisor who knows endless detail about the LPC, training contracts and all things solicitor. But that Bar? We should be so lucky. The establishment has firmly latched onto every prospective LPC student they can, in the hope of securing that precious en grand for another year’s hapless sheep. The Law Society is populated by arrogant socialite aspiring legal firm employees, who do nothing to further to the cause and sideline anyone who has aspirations elsewhere and don’t want to just go drinking. We are indeed left on the mountainside, ankles pinned, to die.

I should add here that this is not necessarily a bad thing. It has two effects.

1)It has killed off the competition. The number of those wanting to work at the Bar has dropped ever lower since I first arrived, head full of dreams and devoid of cynicism. Slowly, all but a few have fallen by the wayside; seduced by the call of other careers or of being a solicitor. That is not to discredit them, as I can fully sympathise with those put off by the low odds coupled with the astounding lack of help.

2)I have a developed greater independence. I was left out in the cold, and I came back, wolf skin in tow and shouting “I have made fire!”.

I am proud of the fact that I have got this far on my own merit. I have got onto an array of CV-worthy opportunities entirely off my own back. I have mini-pupillages, and more to come. I have a place on the BVC. I have used no nepotism, and made my own way. I want to be independent; it’s one of the reasons I want to be barrister.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t envy the bastards.

Just a little.


  1. You would get paid better at star bucks than you would at teh criminal bar!

  2. My univeristy is fairly split, the majority of people now want nothing to do with law I would say about 2/3, but there is quite a big amount of people who want to go to the Bar, which is annoying because they probably have better grades than me at A Level and just about everything else.

    Do you not have any former barristers as lecturers etc to talk to? Or maybe you could just turn up at your local crown court, and beg ze barristers to talk to you lol

  3. For what its worth, Oddy, My Seat of Learning is just the same - running the LPC, simply OODLES of help should you wish to go that route with respect to contacts, vacation schemes, work placements that offer time off any TC subsequently obtained and so on and so forth, with putative Barristers very much left out in the cold to fend for themselves. Indeed, were you to intimate that you actually WANTED to become a Barrister, you were wheeled into the Dean's Office for that which was euphemistically known as " The Talk", essentially a one sided polemic as to why such a decision was an extremely BAD idea and that you, the hapless wannabe, would be FAR better off becoming a Solicitor. Strange that such a rant came from a man who also practices in a full time capacity at the BAR, no?-
    You know what you are getting yourself into, you know the risks and you choose to do it despite these things, so I personally salute you. There are too many people wandering around pointing accusing fingers saying that no one choosing the career path of a barrister ever asseses their chances, but you plainly have and are sensible about it, so keep on keeping on. There is most definately a chambers out there with your name on it!!

  4. Ha, I love the image I have in my head for "The Talk". I was given "The Talk" on my first day of my first mini-pupillage. I turned up, having duly forked out vast sums in travel expenses, witnessed perhaps half an hour in court, and was then summoned into the interview room. I was in no uncertain terms told I should not be pursuing a career at the Bar. Oh boy, I thought, this cost me £10 and it is very depressing - this week will be such fun!

    He then sent me home for the day

    And thanks for the words of encouragement Minx!

  5. Hey, oddy, just found your blog, so will add you to my list,

    Whenever I go into Cafe Nero, I always admire the T-shirts with babybarista on the back. I want one, and if I keep going on the BVC the way I have been I am quite likely to!