You Don't Have To Be Perfect But...
... you can do a lot to get close to perfection!
At times it can feel like you are really swimming against the tide. You think “I have good grades, good experience, interesting employment, I moot, I debate, I have fascinating hobbies and I am easy to get on with- what more do they want?”.
Here some boxes to try and tick to keep your application in the hopeful pile:
An Inn Scholarship goes a long way
Those who interview for the Inns are experienced practitioners and can tell potential a mile off.
This is a must, really. There are many sets that run a clinic on Saturdays and expect Pupils to be fully involved. There is a vast plethora of clinic opportunities and the skills developed are going to boost your application no end:
- Client care skills: shows you can relate to people who, more often than not, are going to be less fortunate than you. It shows you can relate to people of all backgrounds with sympathy.
- You will develop an insight into the kind of paper exercises that you will be swamped with as a pupil. Early exposure to that will boost your suitability to pupillage.
- You shall develop a grasp in areas of law the no vocational course can teach: it is real and it is live and that is quite invaluable.
- You are showing that you a concern for the welfare of others and that also, you take on challenges on top of the BPTC and therefore are well organised and COMMITTED- which is the buzz word for applications!
- You will be supervised, and so if you are a good case worker in a clinic, someone can reference this for you at a later date. Further, you will likely be supervised by solicitors and barristers who are also donating their time. Get to know and network as detailed above. Networking is a naff word, but it is very important.
If you want to impress a common law set, FRU is a great opportunity. Yes, everyone does it. I thought it was so predictably dull that I avoided it. With regret! I had to catch up quickly this year, when some had already undertaken about 40 employment and social housing cases.
FRU, or to give it its full name, Free Representation Unit, is an office run off the Holborn Viaduct. You pay £30 to undertake an exam with them! Yes, more lovely exams! And they are not easy! However, there are many advantages:
- You will be working with real clients on real disputes, not a fictional class brief. Therefore you are enjoying real responsibility and engaging with clients going through very emotionally charged proceedings. They can be demanding, but your job is to put them at ease.
- You will be drafting and you will be writing legal opinions. You will be breaking down a set of facts and making decisions as to a cases legal merit. You will have to analyse case law and statute and predict how a case will run at tribunal. This is gold dust being sprinkled on your application. These are important practical skills. It is not ALL advocacy.
- Further, if you really commit to FRU, it can become an option for you on the BPTC, rather than choosing an area of law from City’s prescribed list. So that hard work can contribute to your overall BPTC grade. So if you like the sound of it, start early!
I titled this section “You don’t Have to Be perfect” because you don’t! There are some smarmy fellows that tick very box. That is life. Some people can turn rocks to gold and the rest of have have to try and tick as many boxes as possible. You might not have the best A-Levels, or your GDL results might not have been that sparkling. You might not speak fluent Mandarin and you might not have sailed the world in a bin lid, surviving off dust. BUT, you can make up for any absent qualities by thriving in a law clinic or FRU.
I have worked with barristers that had thriving practices and each had different skills: some were the brains of Britain but had less than perceptive client care skills. Some could put clients at ease but struggled more than others with the legal analysis.
What a law clinic and FRU will do is train you in how to break down complex legal jargon into language the lay client will understand. They are stressed and they are emotional and therefore, no totally rational. If you start reading the CPR to them in verse, they will just dis-instruct you in frustration. Again, to detail on your pupillage application that you appreciate how anxious clients need the law delivered in a uncomplicated manner will get you points. It shows a more holistic understanding to your role.
Thanks to George Harley for this excellent piece. George completed his GDL and BPTC at City.