I’d not trouble with it if, it wasn’t a big website, promising “information on absolutely everything you need to begin your legal career”. And, given the amount of sponsorship, these guys are making money out of it. So it ought to be right. And it isn’t. And the author isn’t a barrister, and didn’t read law (something you have to check on Linked In, because you don’t get it from the website).
So, why is it inaccurate?
- It says “you’ll get offered one mini-pupillage after another”. No you won’t. You have to apply. See the Guide.
- It says the BPTC is “a highly demanding and acclaimed course”. No it isn’t. If you think it is, think again. I certainly agree that many applicants assume a success they can’t expect (just look at the numbers), but pretending that entry onto the BPTC is tough is a joke.
- It says “you need a first from an established university”. No you don’t. A good degree helps of course. But I’m sitting in a room with our 3 (female) junior tenants. They’ve all got a 2:1. At least one isn’t from an “established university”. None have what they describe as “impressive extra-curricular achievements”. Mainly, they’ve worked.
- It says that “things like managing a bar in Paris and motorcycle racing have helped people’s application in the past” because “chambers like a daredevil”. That isn’t why. It’s because those experiences can be directly related to the job. See the Guide.
- It says, “Don’t bother with the legal secretarial jobs, clerking and support staff positions, because, let’s be honest, all you do is audio-typing, filing, answering the phone and making tea”. This is doubly wrong. First, it isn’t all you do. You manage diaries. You produce accurate work to time, to a high standard. For people who have to work this is deeply discouraging and unnecessarily demeaning. The trick is to identify the skills you have and demonstrate how they make you a good applicant. Secondly, you will have demonstrated the commitment to the Bar that comes with taking jobs that support you while you look for pupillage. My Chambers don’t sneer at that. No Chambers should.
- It says, “Believe it or not, having a High Court judge as one of your referees adds weight to your application!”. No it doesn’t. I do understand that this will be contentious, given the beliefs that so many people have. But it’s not right. If you have worked closely with a Judge of any kind, so that they can speak to your ability, then of course it will help. So will any reference from anyone in that position. But naming someone for their social or professional cachet is more likely, these days, to be a hinderance. It demonstrates that you lack judgement, and will use people you know for your own advantage. I don’t expect the Judge would be very pleased either…
On the plus side, the author does identify entry to the profession as difficult. But the impression conveyed, to me at least, is that this is a job for Oxbridge candidates who know High Court Judges. That isn’t right. It is hugely discouraging and off-putting. I dislike the lottery belief that “it could be you”. That trusts in blind luck and suggests it’s easy. It isn’t. But I equally dislike what’s said here, which discourages able applicants from applying by providing information that isn’t right.
I think this article is a “filler”, written so the site can say it covers all the bases. But it isn’t right. Please, choose your advice carefully. You don’t have to take the advice offered here, but do try and get your advice from members of the profession you want to join.