Breaking into the bar is no mean feat. Speak to any would-be barrister and youll soon learn that securing a pupillage is full of highs and lows (OK mainly lows). Combine that with the negative images of the profession and you have a compelling fly-on-the-wall documentary, televised last Friday (14 November) on BBC2.
The four-part documentary, narrated by Jack Davenport who played Miles in the hit BBC legal drama This Life, has been created to give an honest and intimate insight into all aspects of court life from the young people aspiring to join the profession, up to the most senior QCs and judges.
The series follows four Bar Vocational Course (BVC) students (Catherine, Kakoly, Iqbal and Anna), who makers describe as coming from non-traditional backgrounds, through the gruelling process from law school to their first steps in the profession and finally to the permanent position of a tenancy.
In the first episode viewers were introduced to the then BVC student Iqbal Mohammed. The 25-year-old wanted to be part of the programme to help prove that the bar is not just stuffed with typical white Oxbridge graduates.
Mohammed, who is now doing a pupillage at Birmingham set St Phillips Chambers, said his background is not what the public would generally perceive as being that of a stereotypical barrister.
Ive come from a single parent family and my mother worked as a seamstress. I went to state school and didnt go to Oxford or Cambridge University – yet I have still managed to get to where I am today. And my story is not that different from many others at the bar. The public are misguided in their assumptions that the bar is only open to white, middle-class Oxbridge students. said Mohammed.
The former University of Warwick student conceded that the pressure of having a TV crew following him around all day wasnt always fun.
I had the cameras following me just before I went in for an interview at 1 Hare Court and it was very stressful. But it turned out really well because it was a good talking point for the interview, confessed Mohammed.
The Chairman of the Bar Council Tim Dutton QC hopes the documentary will also highlight the work done over the years to improve access to the Bar.
Its a valuable opportunity for our profession to demonstrate its diversity and inclusiveness, to a public which seldom comes across its members but whose lives and livelihoods depend on them when they do.