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Barristers | The Careers Service Barristers – Oxford University Careers Service
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About this sector

Do you believe that no one should be condemned except by the due process of law regardless of what the media might say? Do you have the ability to read and synthesise large volumes of information in a short period of time and are able to cope with the stress of long hours, tight deadlines and immense responsibility? Are you willing to argue an unpopular cause? If you have answered ‘yes’ to the above then a career as a barrister might be for you…

The work of barristers is attractive to those who would like an extremely challenging, rewarding and independent life. Much of the attraction for this area of work lies in the environment in which barristers work, undertaking intellectually demanding work referred to them by other professionals, such as a solicitor. Self-employed barristers work in offices called ‘chambers’ (sometimes referred to as a ‘set’), which they may share with other barristers. This aspect, combined with the opportunity to become, through one’s own efforts, an expert in one’s chosen field, creates an opportunity to develop a stimulating career. The competition to become a barrister is extensive and entry standards are high; you need to research this option thoroughly before committing yourself. In recent years the Bar has taken an assertive stance in encouraging entry into the profession of the ‘most able’ from all backgrounds.

Barristers & Inns of Court

There are approximately 13,000 barristers at the Independent Bar practising in 409 sets of chambers across England and Wales, of whom about two-thirds work in London. A further 3,000 barristers are employed in organisations working in a range of places including the Government Legal Service, the Crown Prosecution Service, industry, commerce and the armed forces. The two organisations which have responsibilities and obligations to the profession are: The Bar Council, which looks after the interests of barristers, and The Bar Standards Board (BSB), which is the regulatory body. Additionally every barrister has to become a member of one of the four Inns of Court; Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn.

The Inns provide support for barristers and students through a range of educational activities, lunching and dining facilities, access to common rooms and gardens and the provision of various grants and scholarships. Some areas of work at the Bar have Specialist Bar Associations representing the interests of that sector, e.g. the Commercial Bar Association, the Family Law Bar Association and the Criminal Bar Association. These are a useful source of information and advice about the profession and the different roles in which barristers work. Visit their websites for details.

The future of the Bar

Much has been written in the press about the future of the Independent Bar and whether it still has a role to play. This comment stems from a variety of issues including: constant government reforms in the way legal services should be provided (including the Legal Services Act), the increasing pressures on public funding and its allocation, the increase in solicitors’ rights of audience and, in some cases, from a lack of informed knowledge about the role of the Bar. However, barristers continue to provide essential and effective services. In particular, the commercial areas of the Bar are thriving, while other areas, such as criminal, are under greater pressure because they are dependent on public funding administered through the Legal Services Commission (LSC). The full impact of the Legal Services Act 2007, which reformed the way legal services are regulated and introduced the possibility of creating ‘legal disciplinary practices’ and ‘alternative business structures’ is yet to be seen. It is advisable to keep up-to-date with these issues because not only will it help you to decide if the career is for you, it will also improve your performance at interviews for funding and pupillage.

It is important to be active in your own research; e.g. did you know that the Inns award around £5 million in scholarships every year; that some barristers almost never appear in court; and only 35% of pupils have a first (though most in the top sets will)?

The information below deals with the system for England and Wales. Scotland, Northern Ireland, The Isle of Man, The Channel Islands and Eire have different legal systems. However, most Commonwealth countries with Common Law systems do still recognise being called to the English and Welsh Bar for practice in their own jurisdictions.

Types of job

The majority of barristers train and work in chambers across England and Wales. They practise in a wide variety of legal areas, some well known, such as family, criminal and property, and others less well known, such as planning, intellectual property and international border disputes. There are a number of barristers who practise at the Employed Bar, in organisations in commerce and industry, and in government departments. Any organisation with an in-house legal department is likely to employ appropriately experienced barristers and solicitors for its legal positions and a number of solicitor practices now employ qualified barristers in dedicated litigation departments. There are comparatively few training opportunities (pupillages) within the Employed Bar.

There can be considerable differences in the nature of a barrister’s work and some barristers almost never appear in court. Family or criminal barristers may appear in court most days, while barristers specialising in commercial work may spend the majority of their time drafting pleadings and opinions. It makes commercial sense to avoid lengthy disputes in court, so often barristers may be involved earlier in more complicated, demanding commercial matters. However, advocacy remains a vital skill for the barrister and is one of the most distinguishing elements of the barrister’s role.

Entry points

There is a defined route to becoming a barrister, whether you wish to practise independently or be employed in an organisation.

Pupillage Training Organisation (PTO)

  • Academic Stage: an undergraduate degree in Law (LLB), or an undergraduate degree in any subject followed by a conversion course (Graduate Diploma in Law, GDL) or Senior Status Degree.
  • Vocational Stage: the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), which entails one year of full time study or two years’ part time study.
  • Pupillage: one year spent as a pupil in barristers’ chambers or in another organisation approved by the Bar Standards Board as a Pupillage Training Organisation (PTO).
  • Tenancy

After training, the final stage is to obtain tenancy in a set of barristers’ chambers as a self-employed barrister, or to go into practice as an employed barrister.

Training for the Bar and the accreditation process is, however, going through changes known as Future Bar Training at the moment. To keep up to date with what is happening, please follow the Bar Standards Board.

Skills and experience

Skills needed

  • A high level of intellectual ability
  • Excellent advocacy and presentation skills
  • Articulacy in written and spoken English
  • An ability to think and communicate clearly under pressure
  • Determination and stamina
  • The ability to remain calm whilst under pressure
  • The ability to describe complex matters of law in a simple manner
  • Ability to deal with a wide range of people
  • Good judgement and problem solving skills
  • Good research skills and able to synthesise large volumes of information
  • IT skills
  • Ability to operate with total integrity and confidentiality

It is also worth bearing in mind that as self-employed individuals managing an often heavy workload, barristers need to have excellent time management skills and the stamina to cope with the stress of long hours, tight deadlines and high level responsibility.

When applying for the Bar it is important to be able to demonstrate all of these attributes. In particular, the three key qualities that chambers tend to be looking for are: intellectual ability (which can be evidenced through your academic results), the potential to be a strong advocate (which can be demonstrated through mooting/debating/other public speaking) and commitment to the Bar (which can be shown through undertaking mini-pupillages and gaining other relevant experience).

There are a number of ways that you can gain relevant experience and insight into the life of a barrister:

Mini-Pupillage

These are short periods of work experience, generally lasting one or two weeks and usually in a set of chambers. In 2010/11, 35% of pupils completed a mini-pupillage in the chambers in which they secured pupillage. These work experience visits to barristers’ chambers give you the opportunity to observe the work directly, to talk to barristers and to decide what area of practice you might like to work in. Some chambers use assessed mini-pupillages as part of their selection procedures. You can identify those chambers offering mini-pupillages through the Pupillages Handbook, also available online. Chambers will consider applications for mini-pupillages to take place at any time of the year. There are generally no deadlines; applications are considered when they come in. For some chambers you may need to apply up to a year ahead. In practice many people apply in December or January for Easter or summer vacation experience. August is a very quiet time at the Bar because the courts are usually closed, so you are less likely to be offered time then.

Meeting Chambers in Oxford

Our annual Law Fair, (on 3 November 2018) to be held at Exam Schools, will see some 15 barristers’ chambers attend to discuss their work and the opportunities available. Additionally, other organisations, such as Young Legal Aid Lawyers and the Free Representation Unit attend.  Do consider joining the student Bar Society and student Law Society who both have an active programme of visiting speakers and relevant events, including mooting competitions. The Inns also hold presentations in Oxford .

Marshalling

This involves sitting with a Judge (generally for a week) and provides opportunities to see barristers making submissions in court and discuss cases with the Judge. Inns of Court will help to organise these opportunities.

Pro Bono work (Voluntary work)

This is a great way to get experience of advising people on legal issues and representing them in tribunals. There are a few organisations which take on volunteers (students in their third year of a Law Degree or during the GDL) for this role, including Citizens’ Advice Bureau and the Free Representation Unit . The Law Faculty also offer pro bono work experience with Oxford Legal Assistance (for undergraduate law students) and Oxford Pro Bono Publico (for post graduate law students or post graduates from relevant disciplines).

Public speaking and mooting

Taking opportunities to debate, moot (check with the Law Faculty and student Law and Bar Societies) or otherwise talk to large groups is valuable experience. Taking part in mooting competitions is seen as very positive on CVs, particularly if successful.

Other experience

Many Chambers are keen to see experience of other types of work that will demonstrate transferable skills, such as in the voluntary sector, teaching and finance.

There is often confusion about whether you should be paid to do an internship or work experience. It will depend on your arrangement with the employer and also the status of the employer. To find out if you are entitled to be paid when undertaking work experience or an internship, visit the Government’s webpages on the National Minimum Wage.

Getting a job

To become a Barrister there is a series of steps that you will need to take:

1. The academic stage

To complete this stage you need either a qualifying law degree, or – if you have a non-law degree – either a Senior Status law degree, or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) – also known as the Common Professional Examination (CPE).

The Bar Barometer in 2014 published a demographic breakdown of who was entering training as a barrister from 2007 to 2012. In 2010/11, 42% of pupils had non-law degrees. Your chances of securing pupillage, and therefore tenancy (see below), are significantly enhanced if you have a first class degree. Of those who secured pupillage in 2010/11, 35% had firsts and 54% had 2.1s.  Of those who secured pupillage in chancery or commercial sets, 63% had firsts.

During the academic stage you will have to study the foundations of legal knowledge in the following areas: constitutional and administrative law, criminal law, contract law, law of tort, land law, equity and trusts, and EU Law. If you have an undergraduate law degree you will normally have already satisfied the requirements of this stage.

Gaining a distinction in a GDL can increase your chances of gaining a pupillage. You may wish to take your GDL at the same institution, or in the same geographical location, as the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). An online application system at the Central Applications Board (CAB) contains details of, and links to, all GDL course providers, a number of whom attend our annual Law Fair at the Examination Schools. Applications for the GDL can be made on a rolling basis throughout the year and all applications for full time courses are made through CAB. Completed applications will be released to the institutions on a weekly basis and offers can be made shortly afterwards. Different institutions may respond and fill their courses at different rates. There remains a statutory cooling off period for acceptances made.

Whilst there is no CAB closing date, some institutions may ask for applications to be made before a certain date in order to have a place guaranteed or to be considered for awards or scholarships (subject to meeting their criteria). Research the institutions carefully and, when ready, make your application in good time. Please check the CAB website for the latest up to date information.

Before you commence the vocational stage of training you must join one of the Inns of Court, institutions founded in the fourteenth century in central London. They provide educational and collegiate activities, library facilities, support for barristers and student members, advocacy training and other continuing professional development opportunities. If you are sure of your intention to train as a barrister, the earlier you join the more advantageous it is for you, as you will be well placed to network. The earliest point that you can join is usually in the second year of your law degree. The Inns also provide a substantial amount of  financial assistance for the various stages of becoming a barrister awarding around £4 million in scholarships every year.

You may apply to only one Inn for a scholarship, and you do not have to join an Inn until you either accept a scholarship offer, or by 31 May of the year that you begin the BPTC. Once you have joined an Inn you should start attending the 12 qualifying sessions that need to be undertaken before Call to the Bar (consisting of activities such as lectures, residential courses, moots and debates, often combined with dinners or other social events). Each Inn organises its own events for these purposes and will inform you of them.

Each Inn has a Students’ Officer whose job is to give advice about applying to an Inn and on their scholarships application process. These officers can also be extremely helpful in arranging relevant contacts for you to speak to and in advising on the character of individual sets of chambers. Do make use of them!

The contact details of Students’ Officers at the respective Inns are:

  • Mr Andrew Smith, Outreach Co-Ordinator, Treasury Office, Lincoln’s Inn, London WC2A 3TL, Tel: 020 7405 0138, Andrew.Smith@lincolnsinn.org.uk  Lincolns Inn
  • Ms Christa Richmond, Students’ Officer, Treasury Office, Middle Temple, London EC4Y 9AT, Tel: 020 7427 4800, Middle Temple or Melissa Tucker, m.tucker@middletemple.org.uk regarding student admission and general enquires
  • Ms Quinn Clarke,  Education Officer, Education Department, Gray’s Inn, London WC1R 5EU, Tel: 020 7458 7965, Grays Inn
  • Mr Struan Campbell, Outreach Manager, Inner Temple, London EC4Y 7HL, Tel: 020 7797 8210, scampbell@innertemple.org.uk, Inner Temple.  Or, Eamonn O’Reilly, Scholarships and Student Co-ordinator Tel: 020 7797 8211

Each Inn has a student branch at Oxford which organises events for its members. Check with the contacts above for further details.

2. The vocational stage

This stage is currently completed by passing the BPTC and takes one year (full time) or two years (part-time) study.

Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT)

The BCAT,  must be passed before an offer of a place on the BPTC is confirmed. The BCAT tests students’ critical thinking and reasoning and is similar in style to the Watson and Glaser critical thinking tests used by many law firms.

The test can be taken at any Pearson Vue test centre (there are 720 available in 11 countries) and the cost to sit it in the UK/EU is £150 (£170 if taken in the rest of the world). The BSB only requires that you pass this test before you enrol on the BPTC. On completing it at the test centre you will be given your result and your result will be indicated as either a pass, a marginal fail or a significant fail. Once you have passed, the BSB will notify the providers. However, you must also update your BPTC application with your test result and your BCAT ID number. A practice test is available.

You can sit the test as many times as you wish but you must allow 30 days between tests and will incur the same charge each time you sit it! Therefore, we advise that you sit the test in good time. The results are valid for 5 years. You will need to keep your feedback report as you will be required to present it to your BPTC provider. The dates for when you are able to sit the test  are 18th January, 2018 to September, 24th 2018.

BPTC courses

Applications for the course are through BarSAS.

Providers for 2018/9:

  • BPP Law School (Leeds, London & Manchester)
  • The University of Law (London & Birmingham)
  • City Law School
  • University of Northumbria Law School
  • Nottingham Law School
  • University of The West of England
  • Cardiff Law School
  • Manchester Metropolitan University

BPP, City Law School, The College of Law, Manchester Met, University of Northumbria and The University of The West of England also offer a two-year, part-time option for this course.

Applications for BPTC go via a central system known as BarSAS. For those wishing to start the course in 2018, the application system will open on 18/12/17 and close on 17/3/18. All applicants in the first round are considered at the same time after the closing date.

In early April there will be a ‘clearing round’ for applications. If you wish to be considered in the second clearing round as well as the first, ensure that you make all law school choices relevant to you in the first round.  Only the first 3 will count in the first round, the rest in the second. You cannot add any choices following your submission and you cannot make more than one application per year.

Your application for the BPTC will be assessed according to your degree results, the evidence you can provide of having relevant skills and your references. There are no selection interviews and entry for the BPTC is competitive with approximately 3,000 applicants for 1800 places each year.

Reports written by the Bar Standards Board following monitoring visits to the BPTC course providers can be found on the BSB website.

3. The practical stage: a pupillage

This is a 12-month period of training divided into two parts (‘sixes’): the non-practising six-months, during which pupils shadow their pupil supervisor; and the second, practising six-months, when pupils (with their supervisor’s permission) undertake advocacy and other legal services. The two periods are increasingly in the same chambers.

All pupillage opportunities, including those at the Employed Bar, are advertised through the Bar Council’s gateway website, the Pupillage Gateway. There are some timetable rules for all pupillage vacancies.  Please see the Pupillage Gateway website for details.

Applicants are able to access the Pupillage Gateway from 28/11/17 and applications for submission open from 8/1/18 and close on 7/2/18. Offers of pupillage are made through the system. For applications made by candidates through the Pupillage Gateway, offers of pupillage must not be made or accepted before 9:00am on Thursday 3 May 2018.

The Pupillage Gateway system is similar to UCAS in that there is a central online system for applications. Approximately 60% of pupillage providers recruit through this system. Applications for and success in securing pupillage is severe. Recent reported  figures(2018) show that  2,089 bar hopefuls submitted at least one application via the Pupillage Gateway portal, a rise of 4% on 2017’s figure (2,004). Interestingly, the total number of applications submitted through the portal — each hopeful  barrister-to-be can apply up to 12 Chambers — is actually down by 6.5% (14,516). Last year  15,518 applications were submitted.

The number of applications each pupillage-hunter submitted is also down. In 2018 an applicant, on average, made 6.95 applications, equating to a 15% drop on 2017 of 8.2. Overall the number of pupillage positions available via the Gateway was down from 228 to 224 or 1.8%.

The Bar Council-operated Gateway, is a centralised site which allows chambers to post pupillage vacancies. It’s worth noting some sets have their own recruitment timetable and do not advertise through the Gateway. Hence, many hopeful-Barristers apply direct to Chambers and also through The Pupillage Gateway.

In reality, given the fierce competition at the Bar, many candidates are unsuccessful in their first attempt at securing pupillage, and may succeed only after two or three years of applying (your BPTC is valid for 5 years).

A number of chambers require you to apply directly (i.e. outside the Gateway), however, details of these opportunities and deadlines are generally still advertised on the Pupillage Gateway. For these opportunities, tailor your application to the individual chambers and be aware that some of these Chambers’ deadlines are very early .

Between October 2011 and September 2012, 438 people commenced first-six pupillages. In the same academic year 1,732 students undertook the BPTC and 1,260 were “called to the Bar”, demonstrating the strong competition for pupillage. The number of pupillages available has reduced over recent years, possibly as a result of chambers being required to pay all pupils a minimum award (currently £12,000). Significant reductions in funds for legally aided work combined with the recession may also have taken their toll on numbers.

For statistics on breakdown of pupillages (such as gender, institutions attended, disability and other demographic data) see annual  Bar Barometer produced by the Bar Standards Board.

A hard-copy publication, The Pupillages Handbook, is anticipated to be available  from November for the year ahead. It is launched normally at the annual National Pupillage Fair, organised by Targetjobs Law, at one of the Inns of Court.

On completion of the vocational stage (and after undertaking the 12 qualifying sessions) one is ‘Called to the Bar’, and, subject to some limitations, one can call oneself a barrister, but not practise. International students need to be ‘called’ before returning to their own jurisdictions.

4. Tenancy

This is a permanent position in a chambers. You are then an independent practitioner, but you work as a member of your chambers contributing to the common costs. There are usually fewer tenancies available than pupillage places, although there is some evidence that more London chambers are trying to match the numbers of pupillage and tenancy places. Pupils usually gain their tenancy in the chambers where they completed pupillage. For those who don’t it is no longer straightforward for even strong candidates to get a tenancy elsewhere. A number of unsuccessful applicants may find themselves staying on in the chambers for ‘Third Six’ (further pupillage) or ‘squatting’ there while seeking a permanent place. In 2015/16 295 tenancies were registered. In April 2018 the updated figures will be released by the Bar Standards Board.

Funding

The costs involved to go through the different stages to become a Barrister are considerable. The GDL course costs up to up to £11,270, depending on the provider and location (lower costs outside London), while BPTC fees vary between £13,000 and  £19,400 (including a £500 deposit and a fee of £550 to the Bar Standards Board). These fees represent the upper limits of what you can expect to pay and are generally lower outside London, but the courses are always a significant financial undertaking – especially given the rising cost of living. Living expenses for a year in London will be over £10,000, if you do not have access to free or subsidised accommodation. Chambers are obliged to contribute at least £12,000 to pupils during the pupillage year and some pay considerably more. Certain chambers will allow you to draw down part of the pupillage award during your vocational course.

Local Authority Grants (LEA)

LEAs may give discretionary grants for either course. You should enquire about your own LEA’s policy at the beginning of the year in which you will start on the GDL course or the BPTC.

Scholarships from the  Inns of Court

The closing date for the major scholarships for the BPTC is the first Friday in November of the year before you wish to start the BPTC. Please check the Inns’ websites for confirmation of this date. These closing dates apply to all four Inns of Court. You can only apply for scholarships at one Inn.  There are also pupillage awards to be applied for during the BPTC year and you should check closing date with your Inn.

When considering scholarship applications the Inns will be seeking the same attributes that the Chambers will be looking for from pupillage candidates. Please refer to the Inns’ websites for further details.

Bank Loans and other Sources

All the High Street banks offer schemes for students during the vocational year and the pupillage year.  However, please check the conditions of repayment and affordability for any loan, remembering that you may have a gap between finishing your course and starting work.

The Government’s  Professional and Career Development Loans – relevant only for BPTC – is worth investigating. CDLs are subsidised by the Government and mean that you have a repayment “holiday” for the duration of the course, plus one month afterwards.  It is possible to borrow any sum between £300 and £10,000 and repay it over a period of up to 5 years.

Check with the law schools that interest you, to see what sort of financial assistance they can provide. BPP runs an annual scholarship programme aimed at increasing diversity and also an essay competition offering a free GDL to the winner. BPP has also joined with specialist bank Investec, to offer loans to students on the GDL and BPTC in any location. Loans are at fixed interest rate for 5 years, paid back monthly and with an 18 month “holiday” from repayments – meaning you start repayments 6 months after you complete your course. The University of Law offers a variety of awards and scholarships which are very well worth considering for the GDL and the BPTC. They have also set up a link with Metro Bank for loans and they will also allow you to pay your course fees in instalments to spread the cost. Scholarships offered by these types of providers are not as competitive as you may think – so check the deadlines and apply!

There is some limited funding from a few organisations for students from ethnic minority groups, students with disabilities and overseas students. For example, the Inderpal Rahal Memorial Trust, the Kalisher Scholarship Trust and Snowden Award Scheme.

There are a number of charitable trusts that are prepared to consider applications for financial help towards vocational training, e.g. the Thomas Wall Trust. Details of various trusts are included in The Grants Register, and The Directory of Grant-Making Trusts.

Equality & positive action

In 2007 the Neuberger Working Party made recommendations on widening access to the Bar, in particular regarding the recruitment of talented candidates from all socio-economic backgrounds. Following on from these recommendations various school and university initiatives are being implemented with the aim of making the barrister’s profession even more accessible to all. Further information can be found on the Bar Council’s website.

The Bar Council, the Inns of Court and many barristers are determined to widen access to the Bar, and to create a diverse and inclusive profession. A number of initiatives exist to help achieve this from offering specific bursaries and scholarships to work experience programmes. The Pegasus Access & Support Scheme(PASS) administered by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. PASS is a co-ordinated work experience programme for students considering the Bar as a career. The programme has 62 partner Chambers.  The Partners represent a diverse range of Chambers and they are all committed to supporting diversity and social mobility at the Bar.

There is funding from organisations to support students from ethnic minority groups, students with disabilities and overseas students to help them train for the Bar.

There are a number of schemes and organisations that focus on encouraging diversity into the legal profession, such as:

Many Chambers also run their own bespoke programmes and are very keen to encourage applications and recruit individuals from diverse backgrounds.

The UK law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. For further information on the Equality Act and to find out where and how you are protected, and what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the Government’s webpages on discrimination.

Our resources

Books

The following books are available to read in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • Bewigged and Bewildered? Adam Kramer
  • Tomorrow’s Lawyers, Richard Susskind
  • Oxford Dictionary of Law
  • Contract Law, Jill Poole
  • The Law Student’s Handbook, Steve Wilson & Phillip Kenny
  • Law Uncovered, Margaret McAlpine
  • Intellectual Property Law, David Bainbridge, Claire Howell
  • Chambers UK
  • Getting into Law, Lianne Carter
  • The Devil’s Advocate, Ian Morley QC
  • A guide to International Law Careers, Anneke Smit, Christopher Waters
  • EU Competition Law, Ariel Ezrachi
  • What about Law? Catherine Barnard, Janet O’Sullivan, Graham Virgo (eds)
  • Working in Law 2014, Charlie Phillips
  • Is Law for You? Deciding if you want to study law, Christopher Stoakes
  • Careers in International Law: A Guide to Career Paths in International Law, D Wes Rist
  • Pupillage Inside Out: how to succeed as a pupil barrister 2013, Daniel K Sokol & Isabel McArdle
  • Jurisprudence Q&As, David Brook
  • Law of Torts Q&As (7th ed) 2013/14, David Oughton, Barbara Harvey
  • Employability Skills for Law Students, Emily Finch, Stefan Fafinski
  • EU Law (3rd ed), Ewan Kirk
  • Land Law (4th ed), John Duddington
  • IFLR 1000 The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms,  Lukas Becker
  • Nutshells Intellectual Property Law (3rd ed), Mark Van Hoorebeek
  • EU Law 2013/2014 Q&As, Nigel Foster
  • Rethinking Patent Law, Robin Feldman
  • Careers in International Law (3rd ed), Salli A Swartz
  • Unlocking Company Law, Susan McLaughlin
  • International Law, Vaughan Lowe
  • Top Law Firms: Inside Buzz on Interviews, Salaries, Hours and more
  • Understanding The Law (6th ed), Geoffrey Rivlin
  • Human Rights, A Very Short Introduction, Andrew Chapman
  • Glanville Williams: Learning the Law, A.T.H. Smith

E-books

It is also worth looking at e-books, through SOLO.

Journals

We subscribe to the following journals in our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • The Lawyer, weekly
  • The Law Society Gazette
  • Counsel (Barristers’ Professional Journal), monthly

Take-away material

Collect the following material from our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road:

  • TARGETjobs Law Vacation Schemes & Mini-pupillages, 2018
  • TARGETjobs Law
  • Chambers and Partners Student Guide
  • Pupillages Handbook

Online interview feedback

The Interview Feedback Database contains hundreds of accounts of interviews, submitted by Oxford students and graduates. The database can be searched by sector and by organisation.

External resources

General vacancies

News

Sector information, Councils, and regulatory bodies

  • The Bar Council, which represents the profession
  • The Bar’s regulator – also provides education and training information
  • Chambers and Partners – Directory of chambers
  • Legal 500  – Bar Directory for chambers listings
  • Law Careers – Careers advice for solicitors and barristers
  • Skills for Justice: Legal Services – Very useful for an up to date overview of the legal market
  • Inside Buzz – Quotes from legal employees, together with interview and salary information
  • Become a Barrister – A Bar Council film, including a section on diversity at the Bar
  • Legal Futures – Useful legal market information
  • Gov.uk: Grants & Bursaries – For information on the Professional and Career Development Loans
  • Inner Temple Library – For Inner Temple’s “Current Awareness” blog containing information on new case law, changes in legislation and legal news from England and Wales
  • Faculty of Advocates – a body of independent lawyers who have been admitted to practise as Advocates before the courts of Scotland
  • Barbri – Information on taking the American Bar Qualifications
  • Solo: Lawtel – a huge online resource from the Bodleian for news articles, legal journals, case comments and much more. Select OXLIP+Databases, then Lawtel

Sites aimed at students

This information was last updated on 20 February 2018.
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Recent blogs about Barristers

Bar Pro Bono Unit: Caseworker Volunteering Opportunities

Posted on behalf of Bar Pro Bono Unit. Blogged by Annie Dutton on 15/08/2018.

The Bar Pro Bono Unit is the Bar’s national charity, based in the National Pro Bono Centre on Chancery Lane, London, which helps to find pro bono legal assistance from volunteer barristers. They are seeking dedicated and enthusiastic individuals to volunteer as Academic Year Casework Volunteers 

This is a fantastic opportunity to obtain unique exposure to the Bar as a profession and to a wide range of areas of law. By volunteering you  will  learn a great deal about the practical working of the courts and the needs of litigants in person which should complement your studies.

You will be assisting the caseworkers one day per week, over a four month period. Tasks will include:

  • Drafting case summaries, using the case papers provided by individuals who need legal assistance; these case summaries are then used by experienced barristers when reviewing the file.
  • Drafting case allocation summaries which are used to try to find volunteer barristers around the country to take on the case on a pro bono basis.
  • Taking telephone calls from the public and providing updates to existing applicants.

Closing date for applications: Monday 27 August 2018 at 23:00

Requirements

You must have completed at least one year of law-related study or law-related work.

Previous volunteer’s feedback:

“I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in pursuing a legal career to try and spend some time with the BPBU. Not only does it look great on your CV, it also helps you hone crucial skills such as succinctly summarising the key facts of a case and identifying the relevant legal issues, something that should stand you in good stead for any pupillage or training contract interviews. The staff are all wonderfully welcoming and helpful, and whilst a key benefit is the range of areas you will experience (anything from Defamation to Child Protection), they will also accommodate specific requests to see more work in certain areas. Ultimately you are doing genuinely important work that makes a material difference to people’s lives, whilst being supplied with copious amounts of tea and cake. What’s not to like?”

Government Legal Service’s Legal Trainee Scheme APPLY NOW

Blogged by Abby Evans on 03/07/2018.

The Government Legal Department provides legal services to the majority of central government departments, undertakes parliamentary advisory work, provides litigation and commercial legal expertise to the government and has one of the largest employment law practices in the UK.

Their Legal Trainee Scheme offers training contracts and pupillages. The short application window is now open and closes on 27 July 2018 for training contracted and pupillages beginning in 2020.

75 legal trainee places are offered with the Government Legal Department (GLD) including the Commercial Law Group, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA).

Youth Advocacy Training Scheme

Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 09/04/2018.

” Are you ready to commit to a life-changing challenge and gain advocacy experience, and valuable personal and leadership skills in the process?”

“Do you want to be part of an award-winning and law-changing organisation advocating for some of the most under-supported young people in London?”

These are questions posed by the organisation Just for Kids Law (JfKL) as they are currently hiring for their one year training scheme. This is a new scheme, started only in 2016 in a field where paid, structured graduate training programmes such as this are relatively rare. They already have an Oxford student amongst their alumni!

Just for Kids Law (JfKL) provides holistic support, representation and legal advice to under-supported and often isolated children and young people. They recruit recent graduates who may be considering legal, policy, or youth related careers, to serve a year working as community-based Trainee Youth Advocates.

More information can be found on CareerConnect

The closing date is 1 May 2018, at 9.00am

CPS Legal Trainee Scheme Open!!

Blogged by Annie Dutton on 08/03/2018.

This year’s CPS Legal Trainee Scheme (LTS) is now open for applications for those wishing to pursue a career in criminal law. The Legal Trainee Scheme offers up to 30 positions to those with an interest in criminal law, seeking to become fully qualified barristers or solicitors. Trainee posts will be based throughout England and Wales with specific locations to be confirmed at a later date.

These exciting opportunities to help deliver justice will include the chance to become a permanent Crown Prosecutor upon successful qualification with an expectation that graduates of the scheme will develop further into senior and specialist roles.

Thomas Heath, Legal Trainee and Pupil Barrister at CPS East Midlands, said: “Pupillage at the CPS provides so many opportunities to work with and learn from a wide variety of experienced and skilled advocates.”

To be eligible to apply, candidates need at least a 2:2 level undergraduate degree and have passed either the Bar Professional Training Course or the Legal Practice Course in time to commence pupillage or a training contract in November 2018.

University Advocacy Day: Deadline for Applications

Blogged by Annie Dutton on 19/02/2018.
  • When: Saturday 10 March 2018, 13:00-19:30 (Application deadline: 09:00 Thursday 22 February 2018)
  • Where: Gray’s Inn

Do you want to be a barrister?  Do you know what will be required of you as you pursue a career at the Bar?

This Advocacy day is a unique opportunity for university students who are interested in a career at the bar but are not yet members of an Inn of court.

The day will offer an opportunity to meet and listen to what leading barristers say are the key elements of good advocacy; to participate in a facilitated case analysis, ethics discussions and finally, under the guidance of accredited advocacy trainers, to get on your feet and perform a bit of advocacy.  Saturday evening will end with a reception hosted by judicial and barrister members of the Inn, all of whom sit and/or practise in all areas of law and at all levels.

This event is free to attend, with subsidised travel.

Programme:

  • Talks on advocacy, scholarships and the role of the Inns from barristers
  • Advocacy and ethics training in small groups from barristers
  • Reception in Hall hosted by The Treasurer, The Honourable Sir David Foskett

To Apply:

Complete and submit an application via the Gray’s Inn website

Places are limited. Submit your application form no later than 09:00 Thursday 22 February 2018.

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