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    (Original post by Nigel85)
    Elaine - nobody can tell you that you do not have the aptitude or ability to be a barrister. You are absolutely right that it is less of a risk for people who have independent financial means. However, that is true of the vast majority of "desirable" careers. It is not right, but it is an unfortunate result of the oversupply of very good candidates who can afford to build up experience by working for free.
    Nigel, I think overall you talk an awful lot of sense but I must take you to task on this point. Becoming a barrister involves much more financial hardship and risk than almost any other profession out there, including that of solicitor advocate! It is demonstrably harder for someone of modest means to become a barrister than it is to become an accountant, solicitor, doctor, headteacher, IT consultant, investment banker etc that are no reflection on aptitude or academic ability. This stems from the self employed nature of the bar; the vast majority of other professions have large organisations within their industry that will fund training for the best in the field.

    Accountancy has the Big 4, not to mention hundreds of other accountancy firms, finance functions within industry and the public sector who will fund ACA, ACCA, CIMA, AAT or CIPFA. Sometimes, applicants don't even need a degree and student loans, much as I disagree with undergraduates having to pay for their education, are a manageable form of finance.

    Doctors obviously have the NHS; solicitors have many firms who will fund the GDL and LPC for those who are good enough; teaching qualifications are subsidised; IT consulting generally only requires an undergraduate degree and investment banking is open to those smart enough who do the right degrees. Of course none of these professions are easy to get in to but they're not virtually closed off because of money.

    In stark contrast, the bar requires every member to do a £16k course that you can't get a student loan for and then barely pays pupil barristers the minimum wage in most cases. It can take years of grubbing around barely paying travel expenses before you can become established.

    There's no easy answer to this because of the self employed nature of the bar (and I think the independence that comes from this is important). However, it would be wrong to ignore that it is one of the worst professions out there for having conditions that favour the rich.
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    (Original post by AW1983)
    Nigel, I think overall you talk an awful lot of sense but I must take you to task on this point. Becoming a barrister involves much more financial hardship and risk than almost any other profession out there, including that of solicitor advocate! It is demonstrably harder for someone of modest means to become a barrister than it is to become an accountant, solicitor, doctor, headteacher, IT consultant, investment banker etc that are no reflection on aptitude or academic ability. This stems from the self employed nature of the bar; the vast majority of other professions have large organisations within their industry that will fund training for the best in the field.

    In stark contrast, the bar requires every member to do a £16k course that you can't get a student loan for and then barely pays pupil barristers the minimum wage in most cases. It can take years of grubbing around barely paying travel expenses before you can become established.
    I don’t completely disagree with you, but I can think of professions that require even more financial sacrifice and risk. In particular, academia (not only poorly paid but requires 5 – 6 years of postgraduate study and associated debt); journalism / anything in the arts (which require unpaid internships / work experience in expensive cities, and involve nepotism which is incomparable to anything you would find at the bar). Medicine does not seem to me to be an obviously lower risk than law. It requires far longer in postgraduate study and there are many points where medical students do not “make the cut” – whether in applying post-university, during their many exams, or applying for highly competitive and coveted positions once qualified. Even becoming a GP often requires buying into a practice as a partner, and taking out loans to do so.

    None of this means that the bar does not involve some financial risk, but I think there are ways that this risk can be very low indeed. However, I do think there is a major difference between privately and publicly funded areas of work.

    The privately funded bar is still doing well, and it can be low risk financially to obtain pupillage:

    The majority of commercial / civil sets offer pupillage before the BPTC, and design their interviews so that having done the BPTC is not an advantage. Many future pupils at these sets have obtained a scholarship to cover their course fees, and drawn down part of their pupillage award to cover living expenses. There is also no need for work experience beyond mini-pupillages, because the sets place a heavy emphasis on academic results and (once you make that cut) mostly base their pupillage decisions on aptitude for tackling legal problems at interview.

    The problem with this route, of course, is that it is so incredibly competitive that almost every chambers could choose only to interview people with a 1st and straight As at A level, and still find enough brilliant candidates who are also personable, strong advocates and commercially minded.

    Alternatively, anybody can study the GDL or BPTC part time out of London while earning, which significantly reduces the need to incur debt while studying. The Inns give out a large amount in scholarships, which often cover most of the course fees for most realistic candidates. You can also take out a professional studies loan if you need to.

    Finally, if that is still too much of a risk then becoming a solicitor first is a route to the bar that does not involve any risk at all if you obtain a training contract which covers GDL / LPC fees and living expenses.

    However, the publicly funded bar is another matter and there I do agree with you that it is financially prohibitive for many people. It is still extremely desirable, which leads to ever-increasing amounts of impressive work experience from wealthier candidates. On top of that, the emphasis on advocacy in interviews means that there is an advantage to having completed the BPTC first. Then, of course, there is the problem that pupillage awards (and earnings) are much lower and expenses much higher. Sadly, the criminal bar is out of reach for all but the exceptionally gifted (who can still obtain reasonably well-paid pupillages at the top criminal sets) or those prepared – and able – to take a large financial risk.
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    (Original post by Nigel85)
    I don’t completely disagree with you, but I can think of professions that require even more financial sacrifice and risk. In particular, academia (not only poorly paid but requires 5 – 6 years of postgraduate study and associated debt); journalism / anything in the arts (which require unpaid internships / work experience in expensive cities, and involve nepotism which is incomparable to anything you would find at the bar). Medicine does not seem to me to be an obviously lower risk than law. It requires far longer in postgraduate study and there are many points where medical students do not “make the cut” – whether in applying post-university, during their many exams, or applying for highly competitive and coveted positions once qualified. Even becoming a GP often requires buying into a practice as a partner, and taking out loans to do so.
    I'm not so sure if I agree with academia or journalism having the same financial bars because I know both academics and journalists who qualified in their profession and got paid for the work they did without incurring a lot of debt. The downside of these professions is the contract nature of the work rather than a prohibitively expensive course that you can't get a student loan for. Likewise, much as unpaid internships are a blight on the professions it is possible to do paid work around them and you don't generally have to pay for them (except in a few rogue cases). I agree some professions are more nepotistic; I don't think the bar is nepotistic, its lack of access is largely financial.

    Also, with respect to the medical profession, if you are good, you will be sponsored in your training. You might have to buy in to a practice one day, but only when you're fully qualified. The difference with the bar is the huge financial outlay before you qualify.

    The majority of commercial / civil sets offer pupillage before the BPTC, and design their interviews so that having done the BPTC is not an advantage. Many future pupils at these sets have obtained a scholarship to cover their course fees, and drawn down part of their pupillage award to cover living expenses. There is also no need for work experience beyond mini-pupillages, because the sets place a heavy emphasis on academic results and (once you make that cut) mostly base their pupillage decisions on aptitude for tackling legal problems at interview.
    This is good, but it's also increasingly rare. Also, if you do need a GDL, you're still in a financial quandary (at this point, financial risk levels with solicitors but remains much higher than, say, accountants).

    Finally, if that is still too much of a risk then becoming a solicitor first is a route to the bar that does not involve any risk at all if you obtain a training contract which covers GDL / LPC fees and living expenses.
    This is the route I would recommend. However, I might be inclined to suggest going down the solicitor advocate route if it's the advocacy job rather than the status you want these days.
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    Thank you both of you for the information provided. It is advocacy and not status that is important to me but having been offered a GDL place with Nottingham Trent on a distance learning route I am still, unfortunately, £2,000 short on the fees but also, 2 hours after getting told I would be accepted onto the GDL at NTU I also received an email offering me a mini pupillage with Trinity Chambers. This was bittersweet as I most likely won't be able to do it as I will most likely have a full time job by then and so will probably not be able to secure the the time off to do it. Furthermore, if I had a job right now I could afford the fees for the GDL but knowing my luck I will turn down the place with NTU on the grounds that I dont have the fees and then, not long after the deadline for joining the course, I will probably get a job! It feels like I am stuck in a catch22 situation whichever way I turn.....
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    (Original post by elaine77)
    Thank you both of you for the information provided. It is advocacy and not status that is important to me but having been offered a GDL place with Nottingham Trent on a distance learning route I am still, unfortunately, £2,000 short on the fees but also, 2 hours after getting told I would be accepted onto the GDL at NTU I also received an email offering me a mini pupillage with Trinity Chambers. This was bittersweet as I most likely won't be able to do it as I will most likely have a full time job by then and so will probably not be able to secure the the time off to do it. Furthermore, if I had a job right now I could afford the fees for the GDL but knowing my luck I will turn down the place with NTU on the grounds that I dont have the fees and then, not long after the deadline for joining the course, I will probably get a job! It feels like I am stuck in a catch22 situation whichever way I turn.....
    How long is the pupillage for? Could you not take annual leave from your job to take it? Considering everything you have said, this seems like an ideal opportunity and I bet there is someway you can take it up.


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    Can you not pay the GDL in instalments? Might be worth taking the financial risk given chambers are obviously taking you seriously?
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    They do allow you to pay them in 4 instalments but I can't make the instalments without an income (job)... It's only a 2 day pupillage..not sure whether that's really short or anything as I've never done one before....
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    (Original post by elaine77)
    They do allow you to pay them in 4 instalments but I can't make the instalments without an income (job)... It's only a 2 day pupillage..not sure whether that's really short or anything as I've never done one before....
    If you have a job by then, just take annual leave to take the opportunity up, especially if of is only two days.

    It seems crazy to turn it down, especially if you haven't actually got a job at the moment. This is a dream opportunity for you, so go for it.




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    Could you maybe carry a professional studies loan of £2k? That won't be payable until you finish your studies (including the LPC/BPTC).
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    I can't risk anything where I have to pay it back irrespective of whether or not I have a job because if I fail to secure employment then I will default on the loan... The only loan available up here is the career development loan and the GDL is not eligible for it as it is not classed as a qualifying qualification as you have to do another course after it to qualify to practice (bptc or lpc) I guess I will just have to leave it all and try my luck at a scholarship again next year and hope I get a place on the GDL next year too at Nottingham as I've heard good things about it as a law school...
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    (Original post by happyinthehaze)
    Cheers Auntie!!!
    I note your rather sarcastic response. Ok you tell me what she should do to get a training contract. It is all very well to be glib about these things but this is her future
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    (Original post by squeakysquirrel)
    I note your rather sarcastic response. Ok you tell me what she should do to get a training contract. It is all very well to be glib about these things but this is her future
    Frankly, I would suggest the Bank of Mum and Dad withdraws the offer of finance.

    She should be given a set of targets to achieve and be told that she will only be funded for the GDL when she achieves them.
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    Not a lot you can do about people like that. They'll punish themselves throughout their working lives because their bad attitude will erode their effectiveness, but unfortunately they always seem to have a big inheritance to look forward to at the end of their lives of dicking around. The worst of them make laughable attempts to be taken seriously later in life (e.g. Boris Johnson).
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    It is incredibly hard to secure a TC these days. Many of my srtudents (who are law grads) have not been able to secure TCs and are working as paralegals. There is a way around the TC, that is the CILEX Graduate Fast Track Diploma which is taken over a period of one year and following 'qualifying employment' you can apply to beome a Chartered Fellow i.e. a qualifie dlaeyer. You will have all the rights and opportunities as asolicitor and no need for a TC. You do not need to complete the LPC and PSC but, if oyu do, then you willl qualify as a solicitor. The CILEX course costs around £1200 to £2200 depending on wher ein the country you are but it is a darn sight cheaper then the LPC/PSC and worth considering. Ultimattely, one can qualify as a solicitor without a TC
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    (Original post by Lawlecturer)
    It is incredibly hard to secure a TC these days. Many of my srtudents (who are law grads) have not been able to secure TCs and are working as paralegals. There is a way around the TC, that is the CILEX Graduate Fast Track Diploma which is taken over a period of one year and following 'qualifying employment' you can apply to beome a Chartered Fellow i.e. a qualifie dlaeyer. You will have all the rights and opportunities as asolicitor and no need for a TC. You do not need to complete the LPC and PSC but, if oyu do, then you willl qualify as a solicitor. The CILEX course costs around £1200 to £2200 depending on wher ein the country you are but it is a darn sight cheaper then the LPC/PSC and worth considering. Ultimattely, one can qualify as a solicitor without a TC

    I have to say we have just done a recruitment exercise for this route. This is the first time we have advertised this route to external applicants. The quality of the external applicants (not their academic performance, we were getting candidates with firsts and good 2:1s) was disappointing and the post has been filled internally. I am not sure we will look externally again.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I have to say we have just done a recruitment exercise for this route. This is the first time we have advertised this route to external applicants. The quality of the external applicants (not their academic performance, we were getting candidates with firsts and good 2:1s) was disappointing and the post has been filled internally. I am not sure we will look externally again.
    I do think it depends on locality and the fact that CILEX i snot very well known outside of London - sadly. There is a huge drive vy Fellows to better publicise the qualification and the profession so we need to wait and see what that brings. Universities have the optin to bring in a CILEX representative who will talk about the Graduate Fast Track Diploma - I usually go along to the talks on behalf of my College. Many of the students admit that they had never heard of CILEX before but are keen to enrol asap.
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    (Original post by Lawlecturer)
    I do think it depends on locality and the fact that CILEX i snot very well known outside of London - sadly. There is a huge drive vy Fellows to better publicise the qualification and the profession so we need to wait and see what that brings. Universities have the optin to bring in a CILEX representative who will talk about the Graduate Fast Track Diploma - I usually go along to the talks on behalf of my College. Many of the students admit that they had never heard of CILEX before but are keen to enrol asap.
    I don't think there is any problem with employers outside London. Most provincial firms have legal execs who did it the hard way and there are a fair few solicitors who were legal execs who qualified that way.

    I think the issue is getting the graduates on board.

    I think at some point over the next two or three years the LPC as we have known it for the last 20 years will implode. The SRA is now allowing part-time LPC students to qualify at the same speed as full-time ones rather than only allowing half the time to count.

    I can't see the City continuing to fund an extra year as a student to folk who could be earning money whilst studying for the LPC part-time. It is not as though anyone values the course as anything other than a means to an end.
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    (Original post by nulli tertius)
    I don't think there is any problem with employers outside London. Most provincial firms have legal execs who did it the hard way and there are a fair few solicitors who were legal execs who qualified that way.

    I think the issue is getting the graduates on board.

    I think at some point over the next two or three years the LPC as we have known it for the last 20 years will implode. The SRA is now allowing part-time LPC students to qualify at the same speed as full-time ones rather than only allowing half the time to count.

    I can't see the City continuing to fund an extra year as a student to folk who could be earning money whilst studying for the LPC part-time. It is not as though anyone values the course as anything other than a means to an end.
    I take it you are referring to the LPC? A graduate who undertakes the CILEX Fast Track will be working and studying (most often in their own time). Most of my students and ex students are now qualified solicitors or fee earners in their own right and at no cost to employers. CILEX costs are substantially lower than LPC which is another huge bonus.

    Such a pity that graduates are facing this right now but sadly, this has been the situation for a number of years.
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    (Original post by Lawlecturer)
    I take it you are referring to the LPC?

    I was commenting on two things. The first half of the post was about legal executive training, the second part about the LPC.

    A graduate who undertakes the CILEX Fast Track will be working and studying (most often in their own time). Most of my students and ex students are now qualified solicitors or fee earners in their own right and at no cost to employers. CILEX costs are substantially lower than LPC which is another huge bonus.
    We pay legal executive course and examination fees at level 6 and the level 3 diploma but not the certificate so it is not at no cost to us. We haven't yet faced the challenge of whether we pay LPC fees, we don't do so for trainees but we probably would for CILEXs because by then they will have been loyal employees for several years and a known quantity to us.
 
 
 
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