Tips on finding the best law course to start your career as a barrister
Training as a barrister requires a time commitment as well as financial investment. Putting effort into researching courses will ensure you make the right choice for your learning style and career plans.
Plan your path to becoming a barrister
Seek out people in the know, or those who have taken the route before you, to get an idea of which course of study and institution will best suit you when it comes to making the transition from graduate to lawyer.
You can do this by visiting law fairs, such as the TARGETjobs Law National Pupillage Fair held annually in March – to speak to people direct or find out more about your options by getting in touch with approved BTPC providers.
Tips for graduates from past students...
James Haywood graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in history before completing his GDL at The University of Law, Bloomsbury (formerly The College of Law) in 2013. On transferring from humanities to law he found he had to adopt a new approach to learning but though the seven core areas of law were variable and challenging in different ways, James emphasises the satisfaction he found in getting his head around the complex topics.
'To those thinking of undertaking the GDL after graduating, enjoy the summer break and then treat the following nine or so months of the GDL as a job. Legal experience is also crucial, as well as getting involved in pro bono activities – many of which may be organised in-house by your institution.'
Jack Steer graduated from the University of Southampton with a degree in law. He undertook the BPTC at Kaplan Law School in 2013 after receiving a full scholarship from his Inn and began pupillage in 2014. Because of his plans to go into medical law he also committed himself to work for the NHS on a research ethics committee.
'Take the course very seriously not only in terms of the financial obligation but also with regard to the work you will be given once you get here – it's not a walk in the park.'
Danielle Lavin is an LLM in legal practice student at Cardiff Law School. She graduated with an LLB law from Manchester University before undertaking the BPTC at Cardiff University. She now combines working full time for Save the Children with completing her studies and says her dissertation has provided a great opportunity to conduct a completely self-driven and independent piece of in-depth research. She feels it has given her the avenue to develop skills and expertise that will be beneficial to both her current job and any potential future practice at the Bar.
'If you’re considering a masters, find your passion and then find a course that allows you to pursue it.'
...And from a law school director
Julian Davies, director of GDL and LLB programmes at BPP Law School, says drive and self-discipline are needed to do well in conversion courses. He says there’s no real difference between the CPE and GDL since both have been modernised in recent years and are intensive.
‘Consider your motivation for a career in law carefully before you apply. While prior legal work experience isn’t essential, getting some before you start the course is highly recommended and will help you confirm your interest in the profession.'