kingyii1997
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I am a recent law graduate from the University of Birmingham. I am planning to study the BTC course and practice in the UK. What are the odds of securing a pupillage?

1. I got a low 2:1 for my law degree.
2. I do not have any debating or mooting experience.
3. I do not have any legal working experience during my undergraduate. However, I have 1 legal working experience during high school.
4. I have several non-legal working experiences and this sharpens my interpersonal skills.

I am planning to join the debating and mooting society during the BTC year. I am highly motivated as I come from a single-parent family. It is my dream to practise as a Family Law Barrister.

I would appreciate any advice and comments. Thanks in advance.
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Kessler`
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1 Applications don't generally go in for the minutiae of marks - the 2.1 should be enough. However, if you struggled with the degree academically why are you so sure that the Bar is your dream? Whilst I constantly harp on about why academic qualifications are not the be-all and end-all, the Bar is inherently academic even in the field of Family! As to how the marks on your degree course might affect you, although chambers might not scrutinise those if you apply for scholarships then you might well have to explain any issues at that stage. Those with scholarships tend to have a better chance of obtaining pupillage in the long run.

2 You need to sort this immediately going forward. This is an essential tick-box. When looking through applications, the pupillage committees will be looking for evidence that you will fit into the profession and have an aptitude for advocacy/public speaking. It is really a core part of the job. Even those Chancery bookworms have to emerge from their papers occasionally and address a judge! The best applicants undertake every opportunity to enter - and succeed within - any and every competition or programme available.

3 You should seek to change this. I anticipate that you are unlikely to get pupillage on your first round of applications, so look for legal work experience that can enhance your CV. Many people try the route of county court advocacy. That was once a very good way of demonstrating aptitude but it is now somewhat overpopulated and does not carry the same weight that it formerly enjoyed. You could try looking at internships (see the Kalisher scholarships) and involving yourself with charities that deal with domestic violence, family support etc. The best applicants will have meaningful legal work experience that is relevant to the area in which they would like to practice.

4 Don't rely on this to save your application. Unless you've got something that is truly remarkable, you are simply echoing what most other candidates will have. Many applications will refer to how the writer worked for 2 years as a shop assistant/receptionist etc and how they had to deal with a wide variety of customers and achieve results etc etc. The barrister marking your application will have read it all before. The best applications make only passing reference to non-legal work that is anything other than unusual and interesting, and will showcase the more impressive elements of their application. Writing a great deal about your retail experience etc serves only to highlight that you don't have other more interesting aspects to your CV.

Have you applied for any mini-pupillages? You need to get at least 3 on your applications/CV. You should try to do mini-pupillages at your most desired set, within several geographical areas and observe a wide variety of work. That way, you can tailor your applications to each chambers and demonstrate why your choice of chambers is informed and not just a punt. Do you have hobbies/a life outside academic studies or work? If not, try to pick something unusual or interesting up and develop it. Chambers will be looking for rounded individuals who they will enjoy interviewing. The best applicants will have something in their CV which will prompt a barrister who is doing the paper sift to think "hmm, I'd really like to know more about that!". I've heard it said that a good applicant will be someone you could imagine having a drink and a chat with after work. Naturally it is said in jest, but like all good jokes has a strong element of the truth to it! As it stands, I would rate your chances as very slim. If you really want to go down this route you should start working on improving yourself immediately, bearing in mind the points I suggest above. I'm sure others will give you some other tips as well.
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kingyii1997
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(Original post by Kessler`)
1 Applications don't generally go in for the minutiae of marks - the 2.1 should be enough. However, if you struggled with the degree academically why are you so sure that the Bar is your dream? Whilst I constantly harp on about why academic qualifications are not the be-all and end-all, the Bar is inherently academic even in the field of Family! As to how the marks on your degree course might affect you, although chambers might not scrutinise those if you apply for scholarships then you might well have to explain any issues at that stage. Those with scholarships tend to have a better chance of obtaining pupillage in the long run.

2 You need to sort this immediately going forward. This is an essential tick-box. When looking through applications, the pupillage committees will be looking for evidence that you will fit into the profession and have an aptitude for advocacy/public speaking. It is really a core part of the job. Even those Chancery bookworms have to emerge from their papers occasionally and address a judge! The best applicants undertake every opportunity to enter - and succeed within - any and every competition or programme available.

3 You should seek to change this. I anticipate that you are unlikely to get pupillage on your first round of applications, so look for legal work experience that can enhance your CV. Many people try the route of county court advocacy. That was once a very good way of demonstrating aptitude but it is now somewhat overpopulated and does not carry the same weight that it formerly enjoyed. You could try looking at internships (see the Kalisher scholarships) and involving yourself with charities that deal with domestic violence, family support etc. The best applicants will have meaningful legal work experience that is relevant to the area in which they would like to practice.

4 Don't rely on this to save your application. Unless you've got something that is truly remarkable, you are simply echoing what most other candidates will have. Many applications will refer to how the writer worked for 2 years as a shop assistant/receptionist etc and how they had to deal with a wide variety of customers and achieve results etc etc. The barrister marking your application will have read it all before. The best applications make only passing reference to non-legal work that is anything other than unusual and interesting, and will showcase the more impressive elements of their application. Writing a great deal about your retail experience etc serves only to highlight that you don't have other more interesting aspects to your CV.

Have you applied for any mini-pupillages? You need to get at least 3 on your applications/CV. You should try to do mini-pupillages at your most desired set, within several geographical areas and observe a wide variety of work. That way, you can tailor your applications to each chambers and demonstrate why your choice of chambers is informed and not just a punt. Do you have hobbies/a life outside academic studies or work? If not, try to pick something unusual or interesting up and develop it. Chambers will be looking for rounded individuals who they will enjoy interviewing. The best applicants will have something in their CV which will prompt a barrister who is doing the paper sift to think "hmm, I'd really like to know more about that!". I've heard it said that a good applicant will be someone you could imagine having a drink and a chat with after work. Naturally it is said in jest, but like all good jokes has a strong element of the truth to it! As it stands, I would rate your chances as very slim. If you really want to go down this route you should start working on improving yourself immediately, bearing in mind the points I suggest above. I'm sure others will give you some other tips as well.
I appreciate your prompt response and kind words.

1. I am struggling academically during my first year due to long-term mental illness. However, I start to improve during my second and third year.

2. Yes, I will join these societies once I start my BTC.

3. I observed trials and performed office duties during my high school internship. I shadowed a barrister who is called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn.

4. I worked as a mobile phone sales assistant during the school holiday. We are required to have a thorough understanding of the product and present it precisely to the customers.

I applied working experience/ mini-pupillages during my second year, and none of them offered me. I am currently doing some virtual internships. I have a keen interest in badminton and esports. I was elected as the president of badminton society during high school, and I am an active member of the university badminton health group. I also achieve a 4th place in the National Student Esports Challenger Cup 2019 during university. I speak 5 languages. I also volunteered to help out during the lockdown of COVID-19. I hope this gives a clear picture.
Last edited by kingyii1997; 3 weeks ago
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