Becoming a barrister is not the most straightforward career path to embark upon. There are many hurdles and it is fiercely competitive, but when you get there… what do you actually do?
Fortunately, we had the assistance of Professor Stuart Sime, Director of the BPTC and City Law School, on the matter.
On a rainy Wednesday evening last week, Professor Sime was kind enough to deliver an intimate Q&A session about the realities of life at the bar.
So what did we learn?
- Firstly – it is competitive. VERY competitive. One ought to be aiming for a 1st or a 2:1. 2:2’s are unlikely to cut it unless there are truly exceptional circumstances – barristers are humans too, and they are intelligent enough to know that some things are beyond your control. Getting involved with as much extracurricular stuff as you can manage is also a great way to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. If you’re a regular at Inns events – you’re on the right track!
- Being a barrister is not always about litigating. On the BPTC you are taught to give practical advice – if there is a slim chance of winning, your advice should probably not encourage going to court.
- The BPTC is rigorous. At City, there is a heavy focus on advocacy training and it is policy that everyone gets to advocate in every class.
- There are many routes to the bar. People often find themselves having fully fledged careers before switching to become a barrister and this is okay. The bar appreciates that diversity of thought and commercial expertise can be an asset to the profession in many ways.
- Some practice areas yield more advocacy than others. Criminal advocate? Expect to be in court 90% of the time. At the Chancery bar? You may deal in more written advice called or ‘opinions’.
If you missed out this time on this great advice, make sure you’re at the next Inns event!