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Another "should I try for the Bar" post (very long) Watch

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    I agree and think it's A LOT less than 1 in 3. I was up against 450 other applicants for one place in my Chambers. How can the odds be 1 in 3? Doesn't this not account for the multiple applications that people do?
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    (Original post by Simon Myerson QC)
    I don't think your academics are a problem, providing you do well at City. Although the difference is marginal, it is true that City has an excellent reputation, so go there.

    Be ill or have funerals, but do the mini-pupillages and catch up the academics in the evening (M-P's are not very demanding).

    Whip your CV into shape so that you really sell the commercial ability and the familiarity with how money works (relevant to your chosen speciality). Your self-motivation should then be apparent and you can make it clear how that works in terms of giving up steady employment and decent salary.

    Because you have moved about a lot you need to show the sticking factor can exist. Think about voluntary projects, start now and keep it up - unless you already have one of course. In which case put it front and centre.

    Consider the provinces. Because of your relatively (but only relatively ) advanced age, it may not be so easy for you to move out of London. But do a MP somewhere else and see how you like it. You widen your range of sets to which you can apply, it may be easier to get a pupillage and there are nicer places to live than London - really.

    I think 2011 may be a bit early but apply anyway. It will be good practice and you may get lucky. The extra year will obviously allow you some scope for earning so why worry? I would say your chances were pretty good providing you sort out the MPs and the CV - just ask what you would be concerned about if you were interviewing and answer it.

    As to your rhetorical question - because we are about freedom of opportunity and because the system was designed when times were good, by people who could not believe that the times would change. The providers, one suspects, were more far-sighted. So now everyone can gamble their money on a chance that most don't have. The simple statistics are a huge red herring. I reckon that half of those who start the course have no chance. Your chance of getting a pupillage is about 1 in 3.5 if you stick to London and 1 in 2.5 if you don't. Good luck.
    Thank you for this, Simon, and thanks also for all your other very helpful posts here and for your blog. It is so terrific to have advice and insight from someone with your experience and seniority, and rare for someone at your level to devote time and energy to advising people who are just starting out (I won't say "young people" as I feel I am teetering at the tail end of youth ).

    Regarding the provincial bar, I haven't ruled it out and have applied for mini-pupillages outside London. However, I grew up in the provinces and was always desperate to escape to the big city. I love London, and I do feel this is where I want to live and where I want to raise my as yet hypothetical children. It's not about a prestigious set for me - I would rather be in a less well-known chambers in London than the top set in Birmingham or Manchester.


    Further to my rant and Simon's response, I can't see how freedom of opportunity is helped by allowing so many people to take the BVC when there are so few pupillages and tenancies to go around. Surely the numbers will only put off people who can't afford to take the risk? If there's going to be competition, it should be at an earlier stage - a competition that carries a £14,000 "entrance fee" is going to attract the best-off competitors, not the strongest or even the keenest ones. The only chance for qualitative assessment of one's Bar potential at an earlier stage seems to be the scholarships offered by the Inns - so would you say is getting an Inn scholarship/award for the BVC a good indicator of pupillage potential? It seems that most people who succeed do have something in this line on their CV. If I don't get one of these awards, maybe I shouldn't proceed to the BVC, both because I will have one less achievement for my pupillage applications and because it will indicate that I'm not an outstanding (small o) candidate for the Bar. Thoughts, anyone?
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    Read the blog - the topic is debated endlessly.

    LL - having been the head of a pupillage committee in Chambers receiving 400 applications for one place I can say with certainty that 200 of those had no chance at all. Of the remainder, there were usually about 20 who everyone picked and about 15 more who someone saw something in. The reality is that the numbers of applicants tell a story about their hopes - not about their genuine prospects of success.
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    (Original post by Simon Myerson QC)
    there were usually about 20 who everyone picked and about 15 more who someone saw something in. .
    So at least 20 good applicants per place.
    Makes your "chance of getting a pupillage is about 1 in 3.5 if you stick to London and 1 in 2.5 if you don't" sound rather disingenuous.
    Or perhaps QCs use a different form of mathematics inaccessible to mere mortals.
    Duodecimal perhaps with a dash of sexagesimal thrown in for flavor ?
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    Of the 20 interviewed in a very good set of Chambers, you would expect all but the odd one or two to have had interviews elsewhere (as indeed they did). Most had at least 3 other interviews and it was not unusual to find someone with 7 or 8 more.

    The reality is that about 1000 people are competing for the vast majority of the places.

    I don't think my maths are different. I think that this job teaches you to think past the 'aren't I clever' kneejerk reactions
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    Isn't the confusion here the fact that the figure 1 in 3 represents the OP's actual CHANCE of receiving pupillage, rather than an applicantslaces figure?
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    (Original post by Simon Myerson QC)
    Of the 20 interviewed in a very good set of Chambers, you would expect all but the odd one or two to have had interviews elsewhere (as indeed they did).
    20 applicants per place.
    If each had an interview elsewhere, it is still 10 applicants per place.

    (Original post by Simon Myerson QC)
    I think that this job teaches you to think past the 'aren't I clever' kneejerk reactions
    <sarcastic comment about the mental ability of QCs deleted >
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    As I say, the best estimates suggest that there are about 1,000 applicants for the places going. The rest is straightforward Maths. I do hope that flugestuge is not one of those BVC students one occasionally hears of, who try to frighten off the competition. That sort of behaviour is pretty repulsive.

    However, good call on deleting the sarcastic comment
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    (Original post by Simon Myerson QC)
    I do hope that flugestuge is not one of those BVC students one occasionally hears of, who try to frighten off the competition.
    So, do you subscribe to many conspiracy theories ?
    If so, I have a few for you: http://www.2spare.com/item_43133.aspx

    The reality is that my connection with law is rather remote.
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    Hello DaisyEmma,

    Your thread struck a chord: I'm also 31, also established in another career and wanting to move to the bar and also suffering from cold feet! Additionally, I already have a young family who, I'm told, like to see me from time-to-time.

    Currently I'm a self-employed consultant to leasing companies, something I've been doing for about 9 years. It's well paid and reasonably enjoyable, but I can't see myself doing it for the next 35 years. The law has always interested me so 5 years ago I took the plunge, doing the A-level in the evenings and then moving onto a part time degree at Nottingham Trent, where I graduated with a 1st.

    Throughout the process I was always confident that I would be one of the ones who 'made it', but now I'm not so sure! I am very aware that despite Nottingham Law School having a great reputation for the GDL and BVC, it is still ex-poly and as a result the range of chambers I can realistically apply to is limited. I've had a number of mini-pupillages at decent chambers which I think went well. Earlier this year I made a very careful, six-times proof-read pupillage application to one of my mini chambers, where I thought I had been particularly useful - they specialise in one of my main skills, and I didn't even get a first interview.... cue alarm bells! This really got me thinking; this is going to be a lot harder than anything else I've undertaken to date.

    I'd always planned to do the BVC full time as combining the degree with my day job was extremely demanding, took the edge off the enjoyment and left me unable to do as much law as I would have liked. At the moment, I'm not convinced that that doing the BVC, which will cost me low six figures including lost earnings, is justifiable unless I have a pupillage secured. Although I would much prefer to be a barrister, for all the reasons you outline in this thread, I have decided that beggars can't be choosers and so the current plan is to apply for the BVC and the LPC, training contracts and pupillages and see what comes off, sacrificing the deposit on whichever vocational course becomes obsolete - of course, it could be that I get neither! I figure that a loss of £400 is better than risking the lot on what seems to be something of a long shot. If I do find myself bereft of offers I may do an LLM at a more prestigious institution; I have read SMQC's thoughts on the utility of this, but it would be partly for my own enjoyment.

    The real difficulty is simply not knowing where I stand: I literally have no idea whether I have a reasonable shot at pupillage. To a certain extent this is inevitable where supply so far outstrips demand, but it's still an unpleasant place to be. For my part, I would fully support the idea of a barrister sift; better before the £14,000 leaves your bank account than after.

    So - that's where I am. Some way towards the career I know I want, but very much aware of the level of competition. What I would give for an Oxbridge 1st now!

    On a positive note, I can't recommend minis enough. Not only are they very enjoyable, but also invaluable in getting a better idea of what each area is really like, although it sounds like you've made up your mind on that issue in any case. Every chambers I've been to has been friendly, approachable, helpful and interesting, although there have been marked differences in ethos and atmosphere.

    I wish you the best of luck!
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    (Original post by flugestuge)
    So, do you subscribe to many conspiracy theories ?
    If so, I have a few for you: http://www.2spare.com/item_43133.aspx

    The reality is that my connection with law is rather remote.
    Good judgment
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    Still agonising! Have now had another idea: what if I put off starting the GDL to September 2010 and spent the next year preparing thoroughly and generally getting all my ducks in a row (mini-pupillages, relevant voluntary work, applying for GDL awards from Inns, etc.)?

    I did want to get started ASAP, but getting more experience (and hopefully some kind of award from an Inn on the strength of this) would increase my chances of getting pupillage first or at least second time round, so the timing could balance out. It would also give me more time to think about whether I really want to do this before taking on the vast financial commitment. I could probably get some decent work experience - my recent travels took me all around Latin America and I speak fluent Spanish, so I could head back to that part of the world and perhaps volunteer for some organisation like Reprieve or Amnesty International. And spending a year building up this kind of experience would demonstrate my commitment to law in a way that my current CV doesn't - I don't have ANYTHING legal on my CV right now apart from the visits to the Old Bailey and bits of work experience that I've managed to scrape together this summer.

    City won't let me defer but I'm sure they would accept me again next year if they took me this year... and I'd rather lose the £350 deposit at this stage than £22k later on...

    :confused:

    Maybe I should give up on going to the Bar myself and set up an advisory service for prospective barristers - have been researching this stuff full-time for weeks now and have statistics and chambers and inns of court coming out of my ears! I wonder if Simon Myerson QC needs someone to run his fan club
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    (Original post by DaisyEmma)

    City won't let me defer but I'm sure they would accept me again next year if they took me this year... and I'd rather lose the £350 deposit at this stage than £22k later on...

    City will take anyone who has the requisite number of pounds.
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    That's what I thought... I don't understand why they won't let me defer TBH! Might try to talk to them again about it.
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    (Original post by DaisyEmma)
    I don't understand why they won't let me defer TBH!
    That is because you are a cash customer and they can't fill their places.
    If they can successfully pressure you into joining this year, they get another 22K.
    It is all about milking potential Bar aspirants of their money so that they can meet budget.
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    (Original post by DaisyEmma)
    The only chance for qualitative assessment of one's Bar potential at an earlier stage seems to be the scholarships offered by the Inns - so would you say is getting an Inn scholarship/award for the BVC a good indicator of pupillage potential? It seems that most people who succeed do have something in this line on their CV.
    At my Inn, the overriding criteria for the award of a scholarship is something along the lines of "...has a realistic/good prospect of practising at the Bar". I think the other Inns all apply a similar test (merit first, financial need second).

    I have nothing but my own experience and that of my friends, plus some twice removed hearsay and general gossip and rumour to go on, but I believe an Inn scholarship is a reasonably good (but not definitive)* indicator of the likelihood of getting pupillage.



    * Caveat - I know people who got pupillage without having a scholarship, and, conversely, I know one person who got a very prestigious Inn scholarship but then crashed and burned on the BVC and has also only managed to get a handful of pupillage interviews in 3 or 4 years.
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    Hello jnrbox

    Thanks for the good wishes! It's really hard, isn't it? I am thinking about lost earnings a lot, as well as worrying about the fees. My feeling is that you only get one life and there's no point spending it in a job you don't care about, but it must be hard with a family to support. I think I'm going to put off starting law school for a year so that I can try to get more experience and hopefully get an Inn award for the GDL year as well as for the BVC (thanks for the advice on this blogtrotter, it is as I suspected!).

    Have you visited any Inns yet? Are you applying for scholarships? Getting a First in your LLB while holding together a full-time job and a family is pretty impressive, and shows real commitment as well as talent. Did you get feedback from your mini chambers about why they wouldn't interview you?

    Can one apply for the LPC and the BVC? I thought you had to choose. I also think that for mature applicants, the odds of getting a training contract may not be much better than the odds of getting pupillage - a TC is more like a grad scheme and it seems to me that the timing and structure of TCs is very much geared towards young'uns. This may be wrong - it's just my impression.

    DE
 
 
 
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