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Non-RG University and the Bar Watch

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    Hi all,

    I am currently an undergrad at a non-RG university studying a LLB. I am currently well on track for a strong 1st. I had straight A's at GCSE but due to medical circumstances, my A Levels took a downward turn. I left school and went straight into work at a large global bank, working there for just shy of 3 years. I have plenty of other work on my CV but the bank probably has gotten me as far as I am today. There I received a Certificate in Retail Banking and Conduct of Business, an Apprenticeship in Banking and also have a CertHE of Accounting and Finance. I have plenty of sporting achievement (since before my EC's) and continue to volunteer my time throughout the year to support the sport and its community, something I have done since before my A Levels.

    During my second year of the LLB, of which I have just completed, I worked for 6 months as a legal assistant and have been lucky enough to have been given a 4 month internship in the same firm in compliance. The firm is based in London and South Wales and I will be based in South Wales. I also have a mini-pupillage in Cardiff in a fortnight’s time. I will be striving to have the same kind of experiences (and more) in a year’s time.

    I'm looking to study a masters and as much as I would like to get into Oxbridge, I fear that the finance will be too out of reach and so I will be applying to RG universities. (I will be applying to Oxbridge regardless; because stranger things have happened). This is purely for my own personal achievement rather than simply "adding to the CV" as it is genuinely something I have always wanted to do.

    My question is; how likely would it be that I would attain a pupillage? I would preferably like to work in and around London however, given that it is an already saturated market and I would be competing with the likes of worthy LSE/Oxbridge and other RG university candidates, would I simply be wasting my time? I am certainly not opposed working elsewhere in the country as it wouldn’t be wise to shut off a large proportion of options but let’s stick with London for the time being.

    Would a RG masters increase the likelihood?

    Should I be incredibly luckily enough to make it to Oxbridge for postgrad, all things considered, where would that leave me? Does the university name have the same kind of shine at postgrad that it does at undergrad?


    I apologise for the long read. I am genuinely curious and as it is such a financial and time heavy commitment, I thought it was more that appropriate to be thinking about this now, rather than when it is too late.
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    First, a note of general caution that could probably be put at the start of any thread like this. The first (and arguably biggest) hurdle of the pupillage process is getting through the paper sift and getting interviews. You might be the best advocate the world has ever seen, but if your paper application isn't good enough to get interviews it will all be for nothing. The difficulty with giving advice in that respect is that your paper application will (for the most part) be read by a barrister, and even if they may all be working to similar scoring systems, the reality is that what impresses or puts off one barrister may not put off or impress another. At my Chambers each candidate's paper application is reviewed by two barristers and then moderated in the case of notable disparity, and there were some notable disparities between some candidates in that process who went on to secure second interviews (i.e. very good candidates). At one stage of the process I found myself in a disagreement with another barrister as to how noteworthy an Outstanding on the Bar Course is (to my mind it is clearly a notable achievement, and I think most barristers would agree, but for her it wasn't anything to write home about).

    Ultimately we went on to offer pupillage to candidates who, to my mind, are extremely able, but there is no doubt that some potentially excellent candidates didn't get past the paper sift. Unfortunately that will be the case across the board, and you have to be aware that as much as you can certainly strengthen a paper application, there is a large element of luck to this process, and different barristers will disagree as to what constitutes a significant flaw. The advice that I'm going to give is the advice that I think most barristers would give, but there will inevitably be a range of opinion.

    That said, I'll hopefully be quicker in answering your specific questions.

    (Original post by rseymour)
    My question is; how likely would it be that I would attain a pupillage? I would preferably like to work in and around London however, given that it is an already saturated market and I would be competing with the likes of worthy LSE/Oxbridge and other RG university candidates, would I simply be wasting my time? I am certainly not opposed working elsewhere in the country as it wouldn’t be wise to shut off a large proportion of options but let’s stick with London for the time being.
    From what you have said your A-Levels may be a bigger barrier to your university. I know it is common wisdom that you gain an advantage in going to a RG university, but in all honesty a solid first will probably compensate for that. By contrast, many Chambers have minimum requirements in relation to A-Levels, and even for those who don't it may be a deal breaker. That said, I don't see anything in what you've said that would preclude you from securing pupillage. Notwithstanding the weaknesses of A-Level grades and university, it sounds like you're building an interesting and otherwise substantive application. This is an inherently risky process and it's difficult to say that anyone is likely to get pupillage, but I would have thought you'd stand as good a chance as any at getting interviews, which is about as far as I can go given that I have no idea whether or not you would impress in interview.

    On the London point, there are clearly high calibre sets in London that you wouldn't stand any realistic chance of securing pupillage at, but as with most areas of the country there is a scale of quality of Chambers. It depends somewhat on the area of law that you want to practice in, but unless you have your heart set on an elite commercial set, there's again no reason why you would be precluded from getting pupillage in London compared to anywhere else.
    (Original post by rseymour)

    Would a RG masters increase the likelihood?

    Should I be incredibly luckily enough to make it to Oxbridge for postgrad, all things considered, where would that leave me? Does the university name have the same kind of shine at postgrad that it does at undergrad?
    It's difficult to say how much a masters will add. To someone who has good A-Levels and a 2:1 of first from a RG university, a masters would likely be of limited use. In your situation in may go some way to compensating for other weaknesses in your application, but it won't eliminate them. I would generally not recommend that someone goes through the time and money of doing a masters solely to strengthen an application, but for someone who has a genuine interest in doing a masters, as you do, it will probably be worthwhile on the whole. It would help if the masters was from Oxbridge, but again it isn't a magic solution to solve all of your application weaknesses. It has some impact, but not as much as if you did your undergraduate degree there.

    Hopefully that has helped, but let me know if you have any other specific questions. I can't promise to answer them in a timely fashion, but I'll get round to it eventually.
 
 
 
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