A whole year’s worth of students have now been able to vote in the polls to the left of this post. The results are statistically irrelevant (139/144 votes out of 17,000 visits and, I assume, less than 17,000 visitors) but are worth analysing anyway.
On the BVC question, 48% of voters wanted the bar to be raised to require a 2:1. Why? You are unlikely to obtain an interview without a 2:1 – therefore, the proposed alteration would, in fact, alter nothing. What’s more, the pressure would then be on the Universities to lower standards so that a 2:1 was obtained by more people – otherwise why bother to pay for a law degree? This was a truly bizarre vote. The 8% who voted to leave the system as it is were at least being intellectually consistent. Having said that, Anya has put an alternative view in the comments section to which I direct you, because it is worthy of attention.
28% wanted a barrister sift. Why so few? You cannot get pupillage or tenancy without a barrister sift. Why would anyone want to delay it for a year just so that they could shell out £12,000 all of which is absolutely irrecoverable?
I am afraid that there is a strong whiff of inability to receive bad news here. It sounds to me as if the lemmings are voting not to have a signpost at the top of the cliff, in the hope that this means that someone kind has put a trampoline at the bottom. No doubt the legal education providers are cracking open the Bolly even as I write.
60% of those without an offer wanted another go of some description. I can understand that result if there has been no barrister sift. After all, if you have blindly ploughed ahead with the BVC it must be dispiriting when reality finally kicks the door in.
I have real sympathy with those 27% who wanted just one more go – the system is so overwhelmed with candidates who are astonishingly similar that being overlooked is all too easy. But the 33% who believe that multiple applications prove commitment are in a different category. How many people are going to say “this is my ninth year of applications and so far I have failed – but just look at my commitment!”? And, if you aren’t going to say that, then why on earth did you answer the question as you did?
A further 24% were prepared to do a job they didn’t want to do on the off chance that they might be able to find a way to be a barrister by doing it. Why? This is your life – if you can’t be a barrister that’s sad, but why on earth not look for something else that you want to do? Even if I grant that half of people answering this way felt they might quite like being a solicitor (and why not?), that leaves 17 people who ought really to be looking for a job in the field of professional masochism – shame there isn’t going to be an election then.
Hats off to those who said they would happily join the CPS. At least they know what they want.
This is not meant to sound discouraging. I hope you all succeed and I am absolutely positive that, if I were allowed to speak to each and every final year law/CPE student for as long as I wanted, I would only select about half of those who ultimately succeeded. But I also think I would select 70% of those who would not succeed no matter what. And they would include most of the people in the voting majority on this site.
Please: do mini-pupillages – more than one and in more than one place; look up the junior tenants where you went and compare your academic record to theirs to see if it stands up; compare your real-life experience to theirs (particularly important for mature entrants); try and find someone who will disinterestedly tell you if you will make it in their Chambers (every barrister will tell you that you will make it in someone else’s Chambers) – try the person who you did the mini-pupillage with and ask yourself what it means if they don’t say yes; ask yourself how hard you are prepared to work to look up the law, discover and arrange the facts, look up your opponent, look up your solicitor, look up your Judge, look up your client, discuss your opponent and your Judge with a colleague, discuss your best point and your worst point with another colleague and if the answer isn’t “24 hours straight if necessary” then think again.
After that, if you think you have a decent chance, apply for the BVC.
I can write the “you unsympathetic depressing bastard. What about encouragement and good cheer?” comments myself. But the reality is that there are about 550 pupillages for the 2,500 or so of you BVC students out there. How many of there are you? I don’t know for sure because the last figures I have seen on the web relate to 2003. The BSB website says that the provider websites tell you how many places there are – but as far as I can see they don’t (something I shall be raising). And the above assumes that you are already on the BVC (see above). However, thanks to ‘Anonymous’ I can now point you all here and, having done the maths, the numbers are 1816 full time students, and 324 part-time students, making 2140 in all. Given that Anon says that the College of Law regularly exceeds its validated numbers (anyone from there care to comment?), 2,500 looks like a fair assessment.
I believe that the chances are about 1 in 3. That is because the remainder of the candidates have no genuine chance at all. If you are one of those then neither I nor anyone else does you a service by encouraging you to chase a dream without prospect of success. If you can identify yourself as such a person then I am sorry but the Bar is terribly unlikely to be for you.
Ok, thank you for listening. You can all start shouting now…