Ok, so I have been away from the blawgosphere for a while. Starting at BPP as a lifer, moving down to the Big Smoke and starting the next stage of my life has been a very busy experience.
The second part to my series on my failed application experiences will come later, but I just wanted to get a quick word in first about having at last started the BVC.
A few first impressions
I arrived, fresh faced and rosy on the first day, ready for all that the world had to offer.
Ok, that's a lie. I arrived late, red faced and feeling like a massive idiot already. My subconscious desire for a more glamorous memory of my arrival has therefore kicked in, and has not so much applied rose-tinted spectacles for the viewing but fired the previous director, hired a script writer, taken on a more handsome model to play me and re-shot the whole opening scene. Ah, much better...
The first week was much as I had expected; the usual gloriously tedious introductory lectures, gratuitous queuing to hand in forms to allow one times to become intimately acquainted with the nearby wall, and other pleasures of equally dubious nature.
Life on the inside is divided into two principle ways. There are the imaginatively titled LGSs (or large group sessions) that are the few lectures we have for each module, and SGSs (small group sessions) that are the seminars. Much time is devoted to the latter this is the focus of "student orientated learning", and fortunately so.
The usefulness of the LGS has ranged from integral to ones survival, to an hour of pointing out the inanely obvious. However with the hoop-jumping attitude of the attendance requirement, being present at all of these sessions is an unfortunate necessity. I have been one of the few who has had their name called out to check attendance, and had luckily decided not to slope off to a nearby watering hole with a friend in the area that day.
The SGSs are equally varied, and the subject and lecturer have huge impacts on how interesting these can actually be.
Criminal and Civil feel too much like undergraduate seminars for comfort, just with longer reading lists. Presented with a long reading list from either the CPR or Blackstone's and a list of questions makes for a dull day in the library knocking out the two. Fortunately I really like my criminal tutor, and this makes the process more enjoyable. As a wannabe criminal hack however, civil is doubly tortuous; it seems so irrelevant to what I want to do. Most of my group are the other way round, and find doing criminal almost an insult. The feeling is mutual!
Advocacy and conference are the highlights of the week. The first advocacy session, despite my insatiable incompetency at the exercise finally made it all feel worth while. For any reader who is at that stage in their degree where they wonder why the hell they are in the library again, this is why. The first 5 seconds on my feet speaking and I knew why I was here. Why the hell isn't advocacy in some form part of the undergraduate experience? My own annoyance is that some of my group are already easily getting outstanding, and my competitive nature is chomping at the bit as a result of only achieving a mid VC. Conference is fun, but thanks to my group rather than anything done by the lecturer. Role play can be made less tedious if your client is played by someone witty and imaginative enough to keep the exercise alive. The marking of the exercises however appears random, and some of my class mates who are clearly performing better are not scoring so, much to their frustration. I for one don't blame them.
Legal Research - Just....No.
Professional Ethics - This has been taught surprisingly well, and role playing your answers to the client (played by the lecturer who was determined to be difficult) made the experience a challenge rather than a tedious hoop-jump exercises.
Opinion (and drafting) - made bearable by the tutor who understands the reality of student life, and would rather go through things in an intelligent fashion and explain what you should be doing to get good marks rather than hammer someone who hasn't fully prepared that week. When she said in the first SGS that she understands that how much you get done each week for each topic is a matter of priority rather than saying "opinion comes first" meant she was getting a standing ovation if my head.
So far the workload has been unproblematic. Treating it like a 9-5 job everyday has meant I have had very few late evenings or busy weekend. Given that Friday's are off, I barely even have to work on them to be easily 24-48 hours ahead of my timetable. Much of my group work this way, and we can often be found en masse in the library working away. If you can work like this, I would suggest it. For the first time in my academic career, I am on top of my work. Shame about everything else in my life!
Finally...my group. I am yet to characterise them fully, although they will doubtless appear from time to time. What I will say now is that they have made the course. They allow the tedious elements to be enjoyable, provide worthy adversaries in advocacy and conference, and the good-natured humour between us has given the experience a much needed lift.
The experience has begun. I am on the inside. I am a lifer.