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    After being unsuccessful at obtaining pupillage the second time around, I'm starting to have serious doubts as to whether I should bother chasing a career at the Public/Criminal Bar anymore. I wanted to sound my concerns here and see what people thought.

    Here are my stats. I'm 25 (with a very old username on here, I might add), turning 26 this winter. I've just been Called. Obtained a VC on the BPTC, with an award for my performance in Advanced Criminal Practice. Quarter finalist in an international moot, semi finalist in a domestic one. Exhibition scholarship from Inner Temple. Masters degree in Public law from UCL. Distinction in the dissertation, which I've since had published in an international academic journal. Mini pupillages at Fountain Court, Landmark, 6KBW, and a handful of other, less well-known sets. Marshalled a little. Volunteered at a Law Centre for six months. First class undergrad degree from a plate-glass university. And a lot of hard graft to pay for things, retail jobs and the like. Blue-collar background, household income around £25,000. Oh, and I'm of Middle Eastern heritage.

    I had six interview offers this year at criminal/public sets, two final rounds - one at a recognised set, one at a pretty unknown one.

    I'm getting a little sick of seeing people grabbing pupillages before they've even started the BPTC. From my perspective, the people I've studied with who have been successful all have certain shared characteristics - white collar mums and dads, Oxbridge/Russell educated, confident/assertive, predominantly white.

    So, should I carry on and apply next year, or look elsewhere? Keeping in mind I have practically no experience in any other field. My gut feeling is that I'm just a terrible interviewee, but I'm curious to see if anyone sees a hole in my CV.
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    Bump. Would really appreciate some views on this.
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    *sigh*

    Where do I start...
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    Well I mean you've paid all that money for the BPTC, I would just keep trying till you get in. Three attempts isn't all that uncommon either.
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    (Original post by Lord Jon)
    *sigh*

    Where do I start...
    Curious about your thoughts.

    To the OP, I have no idea what you should do, as I'm just starting my journey. Just wanted to offer some sympathy. It must be very frustrating. If you feel you're a bad interviewer, perfect this. But even as you are improving yourself, know that it's not necessarily all you. So many other factors at play...
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    (Original post by Assan)
    To the OP, I have no idea what you should do, as I'm just starting my journey. Just wanted to offer some sympathy. It must be very frustrating. If you feel you're a bad interviewer, perfect this. But even as you are improving yourself, know that it's not necessarily all you. So many other factors at play...
    I appreciate your sentiments. I think the most frustrating aspect of this is that no one wants to hire me for any other position. I'm working in a call centre at the moment. It's crushing.*

    *
    (Original post by Abstract_Prism)
    Well I mean you've paid all that money for the BPTC, I would just keep trying till you get in. Three attempts isn't all that uncommon either.
    Thankfully the scholarship I received covered the fees, but I get your point. However, I feel as though I've peaked - next year, rules of procedure will be less clear in my mind, and my advocacy will be rusty.*

    *
    (Original post by Lord Jon)
    *sigh*

    Where do I start...
    At the beginning?
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    Hi.

    Practising junior barrister here, at a common-law set in the North East. I do crime, employment, civil (mostly contentious probate *but with a smattering of PI here and there) and ancillary relief. I finished pupillage and gained tenancy in 2013.

    Your CV looks fine, generally speaking. You're getting interviews. How many applications did you make? Include non-portal (or whatever it is called now) apps. If you are not making non-portal apps, then there is your problem right there.

    You say you want to do criminal or public law. What do you mean by public law? If you're talking administrative law (JR) etc, then you are talking about two areas of practice which have a vast gulf between them. If you're going along to criminal sets with a CV that includes mini-pupillages at Landmark etc, and with a masters in public law, they aren't going to be taking you seriously. Likewise, if you go along to Landmark and tell them how much you like crime and try to convey that it's not all about big money briefs, they won't take you seriously. Nothing wrong with applying to different types of set, but your application has got to be tailored to each, as is your performance in interview.

    Next thing - and this will sound harsh, but I mean it in a helpful way - do not make out that you resent others or the work/sacrifices you had to make to be where you are. It instantly puts backs up. You achieve more sympathy by being quiet about your background. Everyone, particularly at the criminal bar, has to work damn hard in this job. Long hours for very little reward (or at least that's what it feels like). Someone who comes into your environment with any sort of sense of entitlement, or wants to tell you how they deserve a pupillage because of how hard they've had to work compared to x who has been funded by their parents etc etc, that someone's chances are doomed. I've seen it a lot. You appear to have done well, academically. Let those achievements speak for themselves - don't seek to justify them by reference to others.

    Finally, you may indeed be having trouble interviewing although it seems unlikely if you are getting second rounds. There's some excellent schemes through the various inns which provide interview practice. Have you used them? Ask your friends to help. Successful candidates are usually the ones that are the most comfortable in interview. That feeling, of 'fitting' and being relaxed, is achieved by going through the process again and again. Some people naturally just have it, and can fit in. Being a social chameleon is a very useful skill at the Bar. When you are being interviewed, particularly at the second round, the barristers on the other side of the table aren't necessarily looking for an academic genius or someone who is going to wow the world with the advocacy. They are looking for someone who is willing, keen and friendly. The sort of person who isn't going to complain about going out to god-knows-where to cover someone else's last minute mention, for which they're probably not going to get paid. The sort of person who will have a drink with the other juniors in the local pub after court on a Friday. The sort of person who can be relied upon and will, in due course, get along with solicitors/professional clients and bring more work into chambers. They are taking a punt on you, after all. The money that pays your pupillage award will come from their pockets (sort of, anyway). They will be voting on your tenancy at the end of the 12 months and the last thing they want is to pay out for someone who is going to upset loyal solicitors in their second six and be so unpleasant that they are refused tenancy or even - as sometimes happens - swan off somewhere more 'prestigious' as soon as they can.*

    Hope that, in some small way, helps. *
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    Thank you very much for your comments Kessler. Having read your response, I realised that there were times when my applications were not quite tailored enough. Of course, I did target Chambers to some extent, but I did occasionally mention irrelevant minis on some of my applications. I won't do that again.

    Your comments about interviews, whilst insightful, don't really allay my concerns. I'm receiving piecemeal feedback from chambers I interviewed at this year, and their comments are all over the place. Some Chambers thought I needed to be more assertive. Others thought my delivery was great, but my content was lacking. It's all very subjective. And to my mind, when I come to reapply next year, I should be sending out far more applications simply so that one will "stick", so to speak. And given the general calibre of candidates invited to interview, particularly final round interviews, chambers would not be far off the mark by simply pulling the name of their next pupil out of a hat. But perhaps that's just me being cynical. I'll look into interview advice offered by my Inn.

    Anyway, thanks Kessler.
 
 
 
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