Careers at the Bar
The Bar is committed to encouraging diversity and social mobility in the profession. The Inns of Court, Specialist Bar Associations, Circuits and Bar Council all undertake initiatives to break down outdated stereotypes of the profession and to raise awareness in prospective entrants. Between these institutions, a wealth of information is available to help you decide whether a career at the Bar is right for you.
In March 2011, a new careers portal was launched to provide a range of accessible information to school and university students. This was produced collaboratively between the Bar Council and Inns of Court. The portal (Become-A-Barrister.com) is a website for anyone interested in a career at the Bar and includes a series of films and case studies aimed at demystifying entry to the profession.
Training to be a barrister is expensive and the Bar works hard to support talented aspiring barristers who may otherwise find that cost prohibitive. In order to ensure that the best and brightest are not put off by the fees involved, the Inns of Court award millions of pounds every year in scholarships for the law conversion course (GDL/CPE) and Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).
For further information on how to train for the Bar, you may wish to look at two publications in particular:
- Inner Temple Careers Guide: the number one Careers Guide for prospective barristers, it is full of information on routes to the Bar, profiles of pupils, statistics on securing pupillage and a description of Inner Temple Scholarships for those studying for the Bar.
Work Experience at the Bar
A mini-pupillage is a normally a short placement of between two to five days in a set of Chambers that provides prospective barristers with an inside view of the profession. Completing a mini-pupillage provides the opportunity to shadow barristers, gain invaluable insight into life at the Bar and demonstrate your dedication to a career in this field.
Undertaking mini-pupillages is often seen as essential to the application process for Inns of Court scholarships and full pupillages. You should seriously consider undertaking at least three mini-pupillages before beginning these application processes. These opportunities are also important in order to determine whether a career at the Bar is a good fit for your own abilities and interests and can help to build knowledge of the Bar, different sets of Chambers and practice areas.
Most of these opportunities are unassessed, where feedback may be provided but the experience is not evaluated and does not correlate to that Chamber's pupillage selection process. However, these opportunities can give you the ability to demonstrate your skills and make connections with practitioners in different areas of law.
Work experience is becoming increasingly important for professional progression. Research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has found that structured work experience has clear positive effects on the ability of graduates to secure 'graduate-level' employment shortly after completion. In short, as well as helping you decide on career paths, undertaking work experience is also beneficial to your general employability prospects.
For further information, please see the Bar Council's website describing further work experience and extra-curricular activities that you might wish to undertake: "work experience and mini-pupillages".