On Monday 25th November, the City University Law Society held a careers event, ‘a Career at the Bar’. The event involved a panel discussion with barristers from Brick Court Chambers and 1 Gray’s Inn Square.
The two counsel that attended on behalf of 1 Gray’s Inn Square were Miss Elaine Skittrell (Year of call 1999) and Miss Karen Reid (Year of call 2010) who recently became a tenant within chambers upon successful completion of pupillage.
Brick Court Chambers was represented by Mr Kyle Lawson who was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 2012. After the panel discussion, a Q&A session took place and networking followed with snacks and wine served.
There was a lot of positive feedback from the attendees who were given an insight into the Bar, obtaining a pupillage and the social side of a being a barrister. All three barristers agreed that outstanding academics are crucial when applying for a pupillage and most chambers look for a high 2.1 or first class degree. Furthermore, Ms. Skittrell mentioned that chambers do not only look at degree results but also at A-Level grades and some seek a minimum of AAB. As she explained, this helps show an academically consistent performance. The barristers also revealed that in an application for a pupillage, a strong personality and passion for law is required. A key difference between a solicitor and a barrister in many areas of practice is advocacy, both written and oral. Applicants must have excellent advocacy skills. This can be demonstrated through mooting, debating or pro bono activities like FRU. Mini-pupillages provide an insight into chambers and a career at the independent bar, but surprisingly (a small minority) of chambers do not consider them to be important. Mr Lawson, for example, completed 8 mini-pupillages, Ms. Reid stated that she actually completed 1 mini-pupillage before obtaining a pupillage and that she believed that networking events are also important.
Many students wish to pursue a LLM after the LLB degree and there is a misconception that having a Master’s degree increases the chances of obtaining a pupillage. The Barristers stated that one should only pursue an LLM if they have a genuine interest to follow further academic study in a particular area of law and simply having an LLM does not increase or decrease a candidates chance of obtaining a pupillage.
Regarding the social side of a barrister, it was mentioned that once a candidate secures a pupillage, he or she will not have a weekend for 3-5 years as there is a vast amount of competition for work and it requires a lot of effort. However, the rewards are beneficial as one will be able to advocate in court and most importantly contribute towards justice.
The Law Society would like to thank the Barristers from 1 Gray’s Inn Square and Brick Court Chambers for attending the event.
The Law Society will be holding more events over the academic year – become a member so you don’t miss out!
Thanks to Musawwar Alam, President of the City University Law Society, for this helpful review of this panel event.