BPTC student Lisa McCormick says that while the BPTC can be a six or even seven day week taking breaks will make you work more effectively.
Name: Lisa McCormick
Undergraduate University: University of Leeds
Undergraduate Degree: English Literature
Why did you decide to do the BPTC? The Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) allows you to develop the skills needed to be a successful barrister. More importantly, I could not be a barrister without completing the BPTC. I decided on the BPTC over the Legal Practice Course (solicitor route) because the course, and ultimately the career, in my opinion, allows you to focus wholeheartedly on preparing and delivering the best legal and factual arguments in cases of a varying nature in the knowledge that your submissions may make a significant difference to your client.
Why BPP? Facilities/resources – BPP’s facilities and resources are wide ranging, for example they provide online lectures not just delivered by the tutors but practicing barristers in varying fields. This adds an air of real life to your studies. The careers department also provide a hands-on service, offering mock interviews, CV and pupillage application feedback, and sourcing and promoting legal jobs for those unable to secure pupillage following the BPTC.
Focused on your success – BPP has great connections to local barrister’s chambers. There are many opportunities to network with your circuit (the North Eastern Circuit in my case), including being mentored by a barrister in your preferred legal area. Schemes such as this help students secure mini pupillage and understand what is required of you at interview for pupillage and thereafter in practice.
Experience – Many of the tutors are or were barrister themselves which allows them to give a live example of the subject matter being discussed in class.
Why did you choose Leeds to study in? I chose Leeds because; unlike London, the student body is limited to only 50 students per academic year. This allows you to build a close, yet professional relationship with you tutors. The tutors care about your future and will do their utmost to support you. It also means you have a close support network on your course which, if you do the bar course, you can’t live without.
I also did not want to practice as a barrister in London, but in a regional circuit. Studying in a location I would have been happy to be practice as barrister gives you a head start in that you can begin to get a feel for the circuit, the courts and meet barristers who, if you are lucky, you will see in court in a few years.
Another key reason I chose to study in Leeds is cost; living in Leeds is cheaper than the likes of London. As to be expected, the course itself is also cheaper.
Do you have a pupillage lined up? I have secured pupillage at Iscoed Chambers in Swansea, South Wales.
How are you funding the course? The course is part funded by a scholarship provided by Lincolns Inn.
How does the BPTC differ from your degree and/or GDL? Has it been a steep learning curve? The BPTC is a step away from the academic study we are all familiar with. Before starting the course a sound understanding of the principle areas of law is expected. The Bar Course teaches you the skills required to make use of the law as a barrister, whether delivering submissions in a court room, or preparing an advice for a client at your desk. This is not to say there is no challenging study, but it is concerned with how to conduct a case, procedure and professional ethics.
What is the social life like? There is a great volume of work on the BPTC. A student on the BPTC will often work six or seven days a week to keep up with the workload. However, I am a strong believer in breaks to make you work more effectively. I tend to socialise with friends on the course as you understand each other’s work load and commitments, and equally know when there is a free window to “go wild”!
What about pastoral care, such as the careers service? An outline of what the careers service offers is above.
What top tip would you give to someone who is considering applying for the BPTC? Apply for as many scholarships as possible (BPP/Inns of Court).
Be sure that you want to be a barrister and the lifestyle that goes with it. This is an expensive and, at times emotionally challenging course (you will be rejected many times and feel you are not good enough).