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    Hey everyone

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice for me. I’m 28 and have had terrible problems with mental health since I was a child. I still managed to get decent A-levels AAABab but I had to drop out of my first uni. I then went back to uni and fared better although my degree was spoiled by horrible relapses during second year in which I missed nearly all my deadlines and so ended up with 44 percent for the year. My health improved during third year and I got 68 percent but still narrowly missed out on a 2.1.

    I was initially intending to do an MA this year, mainly for the enjoyment of it, but because of staff departures at my current uni I don’t want to do the course anymore, although I am still on the course as it stands. I’ve been told by the uni I would like to go to instead that I’ll have to wait until September 2015 to begin there because they were not able to process me in time for this year.

    So I have a year to fill before I can do the MA course I want. My dad always wanted me to do a law conversion and has suggested to me that he’s willing to pay for me to do a law conversion this year and my MA afterwards if things don’t work out with Law. I have always thought about converting to Law but had given it up years ago as my health kept getting in the way and after my second year results I thought it would be impossible for me to get pupilage. However, my current situation is making me reconsider.

    What do people think? Should I give it a go? I certainly have the aptitude, and I also have references from my tutors from uni as well my doctor stating that my second year grades were due to circumstances beyond my control. I know my chances of getting pupillage would be speculative but the argument that my family are using is give it a go and see where I stand in a year in terms of deciding whether to go onto the BPTC. Is this advice plausible if not sensible? Or might I just as well take the money and flush it down a proverbial toilet?

    Thoughts please!
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    If you are going to start your MA this time next year and you want to squeeze in a GDL before then, you are going to be limited to a few GDL providers who provide the 9 month courses that start in January.

    To me it seems a bit muddled. I think anyone would question why you decided to do the GDL and then do your MA (which I am assuming is not related to the legal profession) and then go on to do the BPTC. The career is competitive enough and I think anything that questions your motivation, like this might isn't going to help an application.

    If your doing it to fill time, please others and for your own enjoyment, and you have financial support then go for it. But if you are really doing this to pursue the career, I would advise spending the year out trying to get relevant work experience/building up other evidence of your career motivation instead and then do your MA. You can then do the GDL afterwards if it is still something you want to do.


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    (Original post by J-SP)
    If you are going to start your MA this time next year and you want to squeeze in a GDL before then, you are going to be limited to a few GDL providers who provide the 9 month courses that start in January
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    Hey, thanks for your reply!

    I already have an offer from BPP to start next week so the course would be finished before September next year, meaning I could do my MA next year if i decide Law is not for me. I suppose the point is to find out whether I really want to do Law as a career through doing the course. If this is the case then I won't do the MA, which is in Film and Philosophy so yes, not related to Law, (my BA was English) and go straight onto the BPTC. The main concern in this hypothetical scenario is that I may start the GDL, realise I love it and want to pursue a career in Law, go onto the BPTC but then find out that there is no chance whatsoever of obtaining pupillage and so be left with two relatively pointless qualifications. So basically I guess the question boils down to whether I have any chance of getting pupillage given my circumstances.
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    The GDL isn't a great way to find out if law is for you. Academic law and practical law are two very different things - especially something like the GDL where you are being taught the core aspects/modules.

    My advice still stands in terms of using other ways of finding out if the career is of you. I think your time would be better spent shadowing barristers and seeing the real day job and working out if it is for you. Such experiences would also give you a better insight into your chances of securing a pupillage post studies.

    From the limited information you have given if just seems this is a reactionary decision influenced by a set if circumstances and your family rather than your own motivations. It just seems a bit rash and maybe not thought through which even if you take everything else out of the picture, wouldn't help when or if you do decide to apply for pupillage.


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    (Original post by J-SP)
    I think your time would be better spent shadowing barristers and seeing the real day job and working out if it is for you. Such experiences would also give you a better insight into your chances of securing a pupillage post studies

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    How would someone in my situation go about shadowing a barrister? I agree with your point though. And yes, it is a little reactionary although I have always been interested in Law and growing up I always believed that was the career I was going to do. I applied for English when applying for university to leave myself a window before I committed to law to explore my interests and ambitions in arts. Law may still not be my "passion" mainly because I've not had proper experience of it, but I'm the sort of person that can become genuinely interested in anything and at my age I feel I should start focussing on fields where you can actually get employed albeit with much difficulty.

    Thanks for your responses!
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    (Original post by gloved_hand)
    How would someone in my situation go about shadowing a barrister? I agree with your point though. And yes, it is a little reactionary although I have always been interested in Law and growing up I always believed that was the career I was going to do. I applied for English when applying for university to leave myself a window before I committed to law to explore my interests and ambitions in arts. Law may still not be my "passion" mainly because I've not had proper experience of it, but I'm the sort of person that can become genuinely interested in anything and at my age I feel I should start focussing on fields where you can actually get employed albeit with much difficulty.

    Thanks for your responses!
    I think this is still going to be a major stumbling block.

    I lost count of the amount of applicants I saw who thought a legal career was for them but had little evidence to back it up. Saying you will be genuinely interested about it just isn't enough. You need to show a real passion and on-going interest in it, as well as a thorough understanding of what it entails to have a chance of getting your CV past an initial filter stage.

    Taking your academics out of the equation, you are going to be up against candidates who have shown a longer history of pursuing the career and who have taking opportunities to find out more about it. If these are lacking on your CV and you have a 2.2 (even taking into account your mit circs), you are going to struggle.


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    (Original post by J-SP)
    I think this is still going to be a major stumbling block.

    I lost count of the amount of applicants I saw who thought a legal career was for them but had little evidence to back it up. Saying you will be genuinely interested about it just isn't enough. You need to show a real passion and on-going interest in it, as well as a thorough understanding of what it entails to have a chance of getting your CV past an initial filter stage.

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    Again, point taken. You seem to have some experience and knowledge about the whole process. If you don't mind me asking could you tell me where your experience comes from?

    Also I have just a couple more questions if you don't mind having a look at them

    1, If I don't do the GDL now and spend time trying to gain experience, how long should I do this for. A year perhaps, as further work experience can surely be gained during the two years that will be spent on the GDL and BPTC?
    2, Given that I am a non-law graduate who is not enrolled in any legal training how would I go about getting work experience with any law firms or shadow barristers?
    3.Even if I do gain some experience, will the fact that I have not really considered steps to gain experience until now count against me, or is it okay not to have always wanted to be a lawyer.
    Finally, assuming that I do spend a year gaining some experience and knowledge, and develop the required passion do you think this is a wise career path if I really want to do it, or should I quit now before the passion sets in, given the low chances of me making it?

    Thank you so much for your replies. I honestly thought when I posted this thread that I was going to get trolled by 15/16 year olds who think their GCSE predictions mean they are guaranteed an first from Oxbrdige, telling me I should apply for the first available cleaning position.
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    (Original post by gloved_hand)
    If you don't mind me asking could you tell me where your experience comes from?
    I used to work in legal recruitment, although not for any Chambers.

    1, If I don't do the GDL now and spend time trying to gain experience, how long should I do this for. A year perhaps, as further work experience can surely be gained during the two years that will be spent on the GDL and BPTC?

    Both courses are pretty full on, but yes you could acquire that experience while you do the courses, especially during the holiday periods. But I guess my point was not to commit to this route until you have a better idea of why you are doing so.

    2, Given that I am a non-law graduate who is not enrolled in any legal training how would I go about getting work experience with any law firms or shadow barristers?

    People get informal work experience from the age of 16 upwards, so this won't be a problem.

    3.Even if I do gain some experience, will the fact that I have not really considered steps to gain experience until now count against me, or is it okay not to have always wanted to be a lawyer?

    No, but you will need to prove to have gone above and beyond to "catch up" with other applicants to match evidence on their CV/application,

    Finally, assuming that I do spend a year gaining some experience and knowledge, and develop the required passion do you think this is a wise career path if I really want to do it, or should I quit now before the passion sets in, given the low chances of me making it?

    Anyone's chances of successfully making it to the Bar are very low. Everyone who pursues this route has to understand that. But those who do go for it have a great amount of determination to do so; those who are successful are often well researched, passionate about it and have spent some time building up their CV through academics/extra curriculars and work experience to show this. I can't really say what your chances are as so much else has to be considered (and I don't really know the specifics of their recruitment and how they consider mitigating circumstances).

    There are a number of other people who use these forums that will be better qualified to give you a perspective from those who work at the Bar.






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    Hi - I also have done the GDL as a mature student, and thought I would let you know my thoughts on your situation.

    The GDL is intense, hard-work and TBH with you, not all that much fun. I agree that the GDL won't really give you an idea of what it is like to work within law, but it IS interesting and inspiring in parts. But very hard work and academic, as far as it goes - it's basically a giant, difficult memory test.

    You haven't mentioned whether you would consider a solicitor route - it is not as competitive as the bar.

    The bar is more competitive than you can possibly imagine to get into - I would suggest that you find out the names of some of the top Chambers near where you are or where you might want to go, look up the profiles of their mini pupils and see how you measure up - gives you an idea of what you are up against.

    Your 2.2 will be an obstacle. Your mitigation circs should be considered against that. There are other routes to qualifying as a sol other than a training contract (which is like the pupillage) which can help to 'get round' the 2.2.

    If you are serious about law, it is a good idea to spend a year getting some experience out in the real world somehow - also, unless you really like being a student (I don't much) then you will be doing back to back university!! Either way, you will absolutely definitely need a stack of work ex/pro bono stuff to get on in law - it is just expected for the majority of students - although I do get the impression that the v elite applicants can get away with not having any - personally, I think it is a very good idea with law to try and work out if it is for you or not before you get involved with it - because for many people, it turns out they hate law after all, once they finish studying it (especially it seems, if they do it because their parents want them to!!)

    So, your questions...

    1, If I don't do the GDL now and spend time trying to gain experience, how long should I do this for. A year perhaps, as further work experience can surely be gained during the two years that will be spent on the GDL and BPTC?

    Well, if you do more long-term exp you get different benefits. Speaking now from my position, i suggest paid work might be more helpful but ideally a mix of paid and voluntary work. You could do something every two weeks for one day - it is possible to arrange. You don't get a whole load of spare time on the GDL, so you have to work out experiences that fit around the timetable and your own life - possible but difficult.


    2, Given that I am a non-law graduate who is not enrolled in any legal training how would I go about getting work experience with any law firms or shadow barristers?

    This might sound a bit presumptious and it is no doubt, but ask your dad! he obviously wants you to do law enough to chuck quite a lot of money at it - my guess is he might know some people - other than that, there are lots of charities connected with legal things, Citizens Advice, you can find some court shadowing schemes in some places, you can get yourself along to observe in court - you can thing sideways around this - any legal type of environment is fine - also worth saying, that paid work is also seen as valuable experience no matter what it is - dont worry about your age BTW wont be aproblem.


    3.Even if I do gain some experience, will the fact that I have not really considered steps to gain experience until now count against me, or is it okay not to have always wanted to be a lawyer.

    It is all fine, people understand that you may have second thoughts about a legal career - so that this informs your thinking is OK, it makes sense - you just have to be able to explain why law now for you - why law? is what you get asked all the time


    Finally, assuming that I do spend a year gaining some experience and knowledge, and develop the required passion do you think this is a wise career path if I really want to do it, or should I quit now before the passion sets in, given the low chances of me making it?

    It is totally your thing - I think, do a shed load more research into the bar before you go down that route - everyone has a low chance of making it as a barrister and a slightly higher chance of making it as a sol. Try and talk to some barristers some how for advice.

    Thank you so much for your replies. I honestly thought when I posted this thread that I was going to get trolled by 15/16 year olds who think their GCSE predictions mean they are guaranteed an first from Oxbrdige, telling me I should apply for the first available cleaning position.[/QUOTE]
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    Do it!!! Having a 2.2 should not stop you esp with your A Level grades and the amazing potential yoi have shown at uni. I have a friend who got a 2.2 from a great uni. He has managed to get a TC!!!! I still havent with my sparkling 2.1. I am writing this in bed and very tired so excuse the awful grammar and spelling. Just go for it!! Grades matter a lot but not as much as your determination to attain your end goal!!! do it!! sorry to hear about your health problems, I really am. All the best
    (Original post by gloved_hand)
    How would someone in my situation go about shadowing a barrister? I agree with your point though. And yes, it is a little reactionary although I have always been interested in Law and growing up I always believed that was the career I was going to do. I applied for English when applying for university to leave myself a window before I committed to law to explore my interests and ambitions in arts. Law may still not be my "passion" mainly because I've not had proper experience of it, but I'm the sort of person that can become genuinely interested in anything and at my age I feel I should start focussing on fields where you can actually get employed albeit with much difficulty.

    Thanks for your responses!
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    Academics are very important at the Bar - it's true your mitigating circumstances will help but in the real world you're going to need something pretty spectacular to prove your worth when competing with the stars you'll be up against when applying for pupillage. They may well have firsts, academic prizes etc. so you need to show something very, very good too.

    Google some Chambers, read the CVs of recent tenants. ( And weep!).

    Distinction at the GDL, Outstanding at the BPTC, an Inn prize, an Advocacy prize, unusual work experience at The Hague, House of Commons etc. - this sort of thing in multiples plus great interview skills and huge resilience to take the inevitable strain of applying and being rejected over and over again. It may take years to get a pupillage, if ever.

    You need to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about your qualities and capabilities because your interviewers ( if you get that far indeed) will be.
 
 
 
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