Chris Snell

I suppose I was lured in by the traditions and history of the Inns of Court. Middle Temple, for example, was the venue for the first performance of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in 1602.

Degree: LLB (Hons)
Subject: Law
A-levels: English Language and Literature, History, Economics, Law and Critical Thinking
University: Birmingham
Hobbies: Rugby, music

Why do you want to become a barrister? I suppose I was lured in by the traditions and history of the Inns of Court. Middle Temple, for example, was the venue for the first performance of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in 1602. Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Raleigh and King Edward VII have all been members of the Inn. Apart from that, I like the sound of my own voice too much, am overly argumentative and rather enjoy dressing in a wig and gown.

What were the best parts of university life? If I said all of it, would I be cheating? Looking back, even the sleepless nights spent in the library are fond memories. It’s a horrible cliché, but you meet friends for life, have few worries and are never short of something to do – and there are some pretty good parties too.

What are your career plans? I plan to start my pupillage at 1 Gray’s Inn Sqaure. In a few years I’d like to have built up a solid practice as a barrister, specialising in general civil litigation. After that, who knows? QC seems a long way off at the moment.

What was the BPTC like? A big change from university life. I think the best way to describe the BPTC is top-heavy. In the first term, running up until Christmas, there is a lot of work to get through – some days you can work from 8am to 10pm or later. But once you get your head around procedure, what follows is enjoyable. Cross-examining an unfavorable witness, negotiating a settlement and being batted down by an angry judge are adrenaline rushes few courses offer.

How did you fund the BPTC? A Middle Temple scholarship.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
First, it’s never too early to start gaining experience, even if that is simply visiting your local court to watch the cases unfold and see advocates in action. Second, get the best grades you can at every level of education. The law, like anything worth doing, is competitive and a high level of academic achievement is a must. Finally, be realistic. Not
everyone can be the next Lord Chief Justice. Pitch yourself at the right level and be ready to deal with rejection.

What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career? Failing to remain objective. There’s no point wasting time applying to firms or chambers that are out of your reach. Starting at the bottom and working your way up is no bad thing.

  • Trying to conform to a stereotype. People with personality are more likely to succeed.
  • Taking rejection personally. It happens, even to the best people. Remember, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

What tips would you give to someone who is thinking about applying to study a law degree? Think twice, especially if you want to pursue a career at the bar. Remember that variety is the spice of life and many of today’s top barristers are from non-legal backgrounds.

What are the biggest challenges you face while trying to secure a pupillage? The individualistic nature of the bar is the biggest challenge. Every chambers is different and no two barristers are the same. Consequently, there is no uniformity when it comes to knowing what they want – what one set may consider a good candidate could be seen as dire by another. Therefore, pitching yourself successfully can be troublesome. The rise of solicitor advocates, cuts in legal aid and the diminution of the size of the bar have all hit junior barristers hard. The hunt for pupillage is therefore increasingly competitive. Finally, age and experience play a big role. Many sets, especially the commercial powerhouses,
tend to favour applicants with relevant pre-pupillage experience so it can be hard to compete effectively at a young age.