By Christianah Babajide
With the Pupillage deadline fast approaching, on the 5th of November TARGETjobs hosted an annual Pupillage Fair in the ancient surroundings of Lincoln Inn Fields, with a series of talks.
The purpose of these talks was to provide law students with an insight into life at the Bar, the skill set needed to be a successful barrister and sound advice on how to stand out.
- Hilary Lennox & Edward Connell – Family Barrister, Criminal Barrister (5 Andrew’s Hill)
- Richard Leiper – Employment Barrister (11KBW)
- Simon Pritchard – Commercial Barrister (Blackstone Chambers)
- Lucy Organ – Criminal Barrister (6 KBW)
- Ashley Cukier – Commercial Barrister (Littleton Chambers)
Here are 5 key points lawcommonroom Christianah fleshed out:
- Get Involved in Pro Bono
Part of being a barrister is being able to transfer your intellect of understanding the law into the practical side of helping clients – you learn this through pro bono. Volunteering for a free legal advice centre such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is a great way to engage in pro bono. Hilary Lennox who used to work for the Innocence Project in the US stated that everyone will have strong academics but it’s your pro bono work that’ll make you stand out. Simon Pritchard at Blackstone Chambers, who worked in the Free Representation Unit (FRU) during Bar school recommended the Social Security side of the organisation because the tribunals allow you to represent clients in front of judges.
He added, “engage in what you find intellectually and academically stimulating. If you are stimulated, you will be good in your field.”
- It’s Not All About Grades
The speakers made it clear that although chambers will expect you to have 2.1 or above, it wasn’t all about the grades. Employment barrister, Richard Leiper said people need to prove they are more than their qualifications, they can do this through social activities, volunteering or sitting on their Law Society Committee. He added, “these are activities that build character and you need a lot of character at the Bar.”
- Do Some Minis
Commercial barrister Ashley Cukier stated that chambers will expect you to have done mini-pupillages. He added, there’s only so much you will get from a chambers website or brochure, you need to do a mini at that set to get an in-depth understanding of how their barristers work and get a feel of that chambers. Edward Connell echoed this by stating that chambers look for candidates that have done a lot of minis. He added, “it’s also helpful to do vacation schemes as it shows you have considered the solicitor route and decided it wasn’t for you.” For those who are unsuccessful with mini’s or a vac scheme, the speakers advised visiting the Royal Courts of Justice or their local courts to sit in on criminal or civil court cases.
- Moot and Debate
Joining Mooting and Debating societies is great for building up the advocacy skill and mooting is also essential for budding barristers. Lucy Organ at 6 KBW stated that advocacy skills included persuasion, being able to cross-examine and think well on your feet. She encouraged law students to partake in mooting, debating and public speaking. The barristers agreed that mooting and debating enable students to enhance oral advocacy, legal research and writing skills – an important skill set for a budding barrister.
- Get Writing
The panellists suggested students should consider blogging, writing for their university’s paper or even submitting legal case commentaries. Lachlan Wilson, emphasised this because this was something practising barristers engage in themselves. She stated that one of the ways to stand out from the crowd is by publishing your work online, be it publications of event reviews or journal articles. She stated this will show your commitment to the law and is also something chambers are likely to be impressed with.
The annual fair provided me with the opportunity to meet members of pupillage committees and also gain rich insight into the chambers’ culture. As a student writer, I am glad the importance of blogging was highlighted as something chambers find impressive. The Pupillage Fair is a fantastic opportunity for Future lawyers especially for those considering a career at the Bar – I would recommend attending next year.
- The Student Lawyer: Making the Most of the National Pupillage Fair.
- Video of the talks can be found here.