The academics to become a barrister? Watch

legalworld
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I'm looking into becoming a barrister however I would like to know if you think I have the academics to stand a serious chance. Of course I don't want to waste vast sums of money on something which is unlikely to occur. I have three A's at A Level, I have a 2:1 from a top 5 university (not Oxbridge), in a non-law degree. It's a high 2:1 if that makes any difference (I missed a first by 2% of one module which will always haunt me).

Would I have to work for a year or so in some sort of legal role to stand out from those with firsts? I'm not really sure how else I can stand out because they'll be doing lots of CV extras as well I suppose.
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LuverlyLawyer
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Well I can only tell you what my academics are and yours are probably better.

I got 3 As at A Level and a 2.1 (not even a high one) and managed to get pupillage. I think the fact I went to a very very poor school went in my favour (although I went to Bristol Uni). I never felt as if I had something to 'make up for' with my academics. I felt that as long as you met the minimum, you then had the opportunity to shine at interview and if you got the interview stage, it wasn't your academics that were being questioned anymore.

(PS - I've also since done a masters at Kings and got a VC on the BVC but I don't think this made any difference)
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faber niger
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I'd say yes as long as you're willing to work hard and don't necessarily set your sights on the top echelons -- maybe, however, you could reach them by progressively working your way up, if that's what you want.
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Lord Fisher
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Loads of barristers make it with that kind of profile. Sure you'll have to do the mandatory mini-pupillages etc but academically you have nothing to worry about from what I can see. Just do well on the GDL and chambers will love you.
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legalworld
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(Original post by LuverlyLawyer)
Well I can only tell you what my academics are and yours are probably better.

I got 3 As at A Level and a 2.1 (not even a high one) and managed to get pupillage. I think the fact I went to a very very poor school went in my favour (although I went to Bristol Uni). I never felt as if I had something to 'make up for' with my academics. I felt that as long as you met the minimum, you then had the opportunity to shine at interview and if you got the interview stage, it wasn't your academics that were being questioned anymore.

(PS - I've also since done a masters at Kings and got a VC on the BVC but I don't think this made any difference)
Thanks. Did chambers question you about how good your school was? Is that usual?
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Commercial_2010
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(Original post by legalworld)
I'm looking into becoming a barrister however I would like to know if you think I have the academics to stand a serious chance. Of course I don't want to waste vast sums of money on something which is unlikely to occur. I have three A's at A Level, I have a 2:1 from a top 5 university (not Oxbridge), in a non-law degree. It's a high 2:1 if that makes any difference (I missed a first by 2% of one module which will always haunt me).

Would I have to work for a year or so in some sort of legal role to stand out from those with firsts? I'm not really sure how else I can stand out because they'll be doing lots of CV extras as well I suppose.
Strong academics - which you have - is only 40%

You need to demonstrate that you are more than your academics. A pupilage is much more competitive than trying to get a training contract. Therefore you need to demonstrate to potential chambers that you have other abilities, and KNOW and UNDERSTAND what the profession entials.

Try and get mini-puppilages, work experience (even if your just shadowing). Do other non-academic activities such as mooting/debating, your going to have to be both persuasive and be a good speaker, after all your going to an advocate!
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Simon Myerson QC
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(Original post by jismith1989)
I'd say yes as long as you're willing to work hard and don't necessarily set your sights on the top echelons -- maybe, however, you could reach them by progressively working your way up, if that's what you want.
What, exactly, are the top echelons?

The answer to your question is yes. There are some sets who won't look at you. Ignore them. Don't get hung up on 'magic circle' sets. My experience of the advocates from such places (extensive) is that some are very good and some are not - exactly the position with every other set.

I'm uncertain, also, about how anyone can know that academics are 40%. Your academic qualifications are vital because the decision to interview is made about people whose qualifications are acceptable. After that (and you are fine on this point) they tend to be important only if the set believes that academic ability is key to the practice they offer. This is not always the case by any means. A keen brain is always helpful. There are areas where it is critical (international trade, reinsurance), and areas where common sense and empathy are far more important (family, crime). I would not have thought that your results pose a particular problem.

It is necessary to do mini-pupillages etc. For more go and visit http://pupillageandhowtogetit.wordpress.com/.

Finally, given that so much work is done on paper, I am sure that Commercial 2010 will not mind me pointing out the importance of basic grammar. You're going to be an advocate (not 'your'). The point being that, however confident the assertion, it is undermined by an inability to communicate it properly.
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Commercial_2010
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(Original post by Simon Myerson QC)
What, exactly, are the top echelons?

The answer to your question is yes. There are some sets who won't look at you. Ignore them. Don't get hung up on 'magic circle' sets. My experience of the advocates from such places (extensive) is that some are very good and some are not - exactly the position with every other set.

I'm uncertain, also, about how anyone can know that academics are 40%. Your academic qualifications are vital because the decision to interview is made about people whose qualifications are acceptable. After that (and you are fine on this point) they tend to be important only if the set believes that academic ability is key to the practice they offer. This is not always the case by any means. A keen brain is always helpful. There are areas where it is critical (international trade, reinsurance), and areas where common sense and empathy are far more important (family, crime). I would not have thought that your results pose a particular problem.

It is necessary to do mini-pupillages etc. For more go and visit http://pupillageandhowtogetit.wordpress.com/.

Finally, given that so much work is done on paper, I am sure that Commercial 2010 will not mind me pointing out the importance of basic grammar. You're going to be an advocate (not 'your'). The point being that, however confident the assertion, it is undermined by an inability to communicate it properly.
Lol, forgive me, that's why your the barrister and I'm the (future) solicitor.

Re: Academics, I was just trying to highlight that, yes, good academics will allow you to get your foot through the door for interviews, but if you haven't got anything else to offer, it's going to be extremely difficult to differentiate yourself. Considering that in 04/05 there where 1745 BVC enrolments out of 2883 applicants, and only 556 Pupillages commenced, it is so competitive! (Figures from the 'Training Contract and Pupillage Handbook 2008').

Yes your right about my spelling, but its more down to my typing. I noticed I spelt entails wrong, see I do have that elusive attention to detail! Haha.

Anyway, if you don't mind me asking, what area of law do you practice? Litigation, family, commercial?
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Commercial_2010
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Just googled you, nice blog!:yep:
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Simon Myerson QC
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Thank you. I agree that academics alone won't cut it.

Practice details here - http://www.parkcourtchambers.co.uk/p...Myerson-QC.asp - with bad photo.
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Evil_Genius
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What's your favourite band of chocolates, so that I can bring it along to my Pupillage Interview as a minor bribe? These things should *really* be stated in Chambers' profiles.

I was in Court last week, and there was a Recorder from Leeds presiding over a criminal case.... I was almost entirely certain it was you! Fortunately, I thought sycophantism there and then would have been contrary to the spirit of justice inherent in a court room...it turns out he was someone else.
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faber niger
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(Original post by Simon Myerson QC)
What, exactly, are the top echelons?

The answer to your question is yes. There are some sets who won't look at you. Ignore them. Don't get hung up on 'magic circle' sets. My experience of the advocates from such places (extensive) is that some are very good and some are not - exactly the position with every other set.
I don't mean at all to be belligerent, but I think that you answered the question. Whether they should be described as the 'top' echelons in another matter, but they do tend to be.
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Nana_Julia
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(Original post by Commercial_2010)
Lol, forgive me, that's why your the barrister and I'm the (future) solicitor.
*cringe*
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Commercial_2010
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(Original post by Nana_Julia)
*cringe*
Lol, that was done on purpose to rile him up.
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Evil_Genius
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Out of curiousity Nana, as you've seen my CV--would you say I would stand a decent chance of being admitted, vis a vis those of your friends who were rejected with stellar academics?
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Nana_Julia
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(Original post by Commercial_2010)
Lol, that was done on purpose to rile him up.
And the second time you did it in that post was on purpose too I suppose??!:rolleyes:
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Nana_Julia
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(Original post by Evil_Genius)
Out of curiousity Nana, as you've seen my CV--would you say I would stand a decent chance of being admitted, vis a vis those of your friends who were rejected with stellar academics?
I'm not sure what you're asking - if you're asking me if I know people with academics equal to or better than yours who didn't get tenancy then the answer is yes! The point is that academics are necessary but not sufficient. I'm not going to tell you that your academics are so amazing that you stand no chance of rejection - that's simply not true, of anyone!
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Evil_Genius
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I assure you that I'm not fishing for an ego boost--if I recall, you were already very pleasant in your assesment of my chances in the past (must have been during the nice-Nana stage. I was referring to the discussion regarding the BCL admissions rather than pupillage (naturally, that is an entirely less predictable decision). Clearly, my academics would be comparable to your friends with Firsts from good universities--I was referring to all the elements of my CV ('taking all the circumstances in the round', as Judges like to say) that would influence Oxford's decision as compared to those of your friends. I imagine publications and such would play a major role. Obviously not an exact science--but if you also know anyone who was accepted (or indeed got pupillage) with any interesting CV entries, then I'm all ears....I do have a whole year dedicated to stuffing my CV until it pops at the seems.

By the way, has everything been alright as of late? I noticed a certain terseness about you in the last month or so. Do let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
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LuverlyLawyer
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(Original post by legalworld)
Thanks. Did chambers question you about how good your school was? Is that usual?
No. I made sure they knew.

Getting 3 As where I come from is an incredible achievement - in other schools, hardly worth mentioning. I made sure they knew I went to they type of school where a teacher was more interested in getting in your knickers than getting your coursework marked, female teachers had chairs thrown at them and handguns being pulled out during breaktime wasn't really a surprise. You try concentrating during all of that.
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mr_lawyer
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(Original post by Nana_Julia)
I'm not sure what you're asking - if you're asking me if I know people with academics equal to or better than yours who didn't get tenancy then the answer is yes! The point is that academics are necessary but not sufficient. I'm not going to tell you that your academics are so amazing that you stand no chance of rejection - that's simply not true, of anyone!

Once again Nana gives good advice.

My browsing on the net, by the way have revealed that a winner of the Wronker prize, a Harvard Kennedy scholarship and the major Middle Temple scholarship (£20,000) didn't get tenancy at his first set (!).


Sigh. I'm now torn with several excellent training contracts. Need an urgent boost to make my mind up.
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