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Canadian Citizen, British Resident - Chance at the Bar? watch

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    Hi all, I have spent some time looking at these forums and I have decided to finally air some of my own anxieties about my future career (or potential career at the bar).

    I am a Canadian Citizen and I earned the equivalent of a first at a University in Canada. I came to the UK in 2007 to undertake a MPhil at The University of Cambridge. I earned a high 2.1 and really enjoyed the experience.

    I have spent the past year working as a programme manager for a major UK charity and in 2009/2010 I will undertake the GDL.

    I intend to live and work in the UK for quite some time, if not permanently. I recently was awarded a major scholarship for the GDL from Middle and one of the questions I was asked was- why the British Bar and not the Canadian? I guess my answer satisfied the panel in that instance.

    My major concern- in an environment with so many amazing candidates will chambers see my non-citizen status as an immediate red flag? I fear that it may also hurt my chances in subtler ways. In the instance that two candidates have similar backgrounds will the one that may require more paperwork be at a disadvantage (if you get my drift).

    If anyone has any advice or has been in a similar situation I would be keen to hear from them!!
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    I can't give you any advice from direct experience, as I (a) am British, and (b) seem to have been unsuccessful in my application for pupillage this year (although we'll see what happens in clearing).

    But during the course of pupillage interviews, I was quizzed by panels that included barristers who, judging by their accents, were from outside of the UK. I also met a couple of Commonwealth candidates in the waiting rooms before final interviews, so their applications had obviously been taken quite seriously. I took part in a mooting competition judged by a barrister who was from continental Europe originally.

    So - as long as you're serious about practising in the UK, and can say so convincingly in an interview - I'd hazard a guess that your nationality isn't likely to stop you from getting to the Bar.
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    Are you currently working as a post-study worker?

    I think immigration status is the only concern you'll have if you otherwise meet all the other relevant criteria for access to the Bar...as when it comes to the pupillage stage, that is no longer covered by a student visa. We're told, frequently, that the Bar is a meritocracy, and from that one should deduce that country of origin should not be a bar (pun intended).
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    Thanks for the advice.
    Yes, the immigration status is the question I have too. Right now I am a post- study worker. I will have this visa until I complete the BVC and that point I will probably apply for permanent leave to remain or some other work visa. I might require a Chambers to sponsor me and this is my concern.
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    I don't think that any chambers will have an issue with sponsoring you if they decide to give you a pupillage. However, I strongly suggest you speak to someone at Middle Temple (I presume you have joined if you've accepted a major award) - you could probably start with the Students Association (they have an international students section too), and they will hopefully be able to answer any direct questions you have regarding likelihood of chambers acting as your sponsor.

    That said, have you considered asking your current employer to be your sponsor? If they agree, you might be eligible to apply for tier 2 (skilled worker) status...and I don't think you have to wait until your current status ends to do that (though I am not positive). You probably already know this, but your tier 1 status doesn't count towards settlement (the time you need before being eligible to stay in the UK).
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    There are plenty of people at the bar from jurisdictions outside of the UK - I share a room in Chambers with an Australian. I very much doubt it will be a problem.

    You should anticipate that it will be something that you are likely to be asked about in interview.
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    You will need to check visa issues. Once you finish pupillage Chambers are not employers - barristers are self-employed. Chambers don't have HR departments in the way that law firms do - its just 1/2/3/4 clerks sitting in a office. You will probably have to sort visa issues yourself, or at least explain to the clerks exactly what they have to do.
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    OP, If i may just ask ... what did you tell them in the interview about your preference "English bar > Canadian Bar"?
 
 
 
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