Future Lawyer Blog

Being in the Business of Becoming a Successful Barrister – James Yapp


Sylvia Van den Bruel

On the 5th November, Silvia Van den Bruel came to speak to our students about “Being in the Business of Becoming a Successful Barrister”.

According to Silvia Van den Bruel, many pupillage applicants are unsure as to how a barrister goes about marketing himself or herself in practice. Silvia was keen to emphasise that the days that legal expertise was sufficient to achieve success at the Bar are gone. Below are a few of the tips which she shared:

Recognise that, as a barrister, you will be part of a unique business model. You, specifically your skills and expertise, are the product. Think of, and capitalise upon, the factors which differentiate you from your peers. To this end, don’t undersell the value of previous careers and other experience which sets you apart or has helped you to develop unique transferrable skills.

Think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Have a vision of where you want to be in 2 to 3 years and a strategic plan of how you will get there. Break this goal down into more manageable shorter term targets and communicate these to the set you are part of.

When you apply for pupillage, demonstrate to chambers that you have the drive and skills needed to succeed as a self-employed professional while also asking them how they will assist you with marketing and business development. However, ensure you still take personal responsibility for selling yourself and your “brand”. Balance the time spent working with the time you spend promoting your ability to do the work.

Client is king

Don’t underestimate the importance of client care. The client, as Silvia puts it, is King and should be the centre of your universe. Build and maintain relationships: you never know when someone might be in a position to help you out.

Many thanks to Silvia for a fascinating presentation which shed some light on an oft-neglected aspect of life at the Bar.

Silvia Van den Bruel is the Marketing and Business Development Manager at 11 Stone Buildings and is also a mentor in City University London’s Professional Mentoring Scheme for 2013/14 which offers students the opportunity to develop their personal development and employability.

Thanks to our author James Yapp who is currently studying at The City Law School on the BPTC course.

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