Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Edge of Glory(ish)

In fourteen hours and two minutes I will have finished my BPTC.

At 11.50 tomorrow morning I will stride into room 4.x at BPP, skeleton argument, relevant authorities and pen in hand and I'll make a 12 minute submission about an abuse of process. And then I'll turn my back on formal education.

That's not strictly true, of course. There's always the possibility that I've buggered up one of the exams from earlier in the year, or that I might even (God forbid) decide to do a Master's of some sort when I am feeling particularly confused. So let me rephrase: this is the end of foreseeable, formal education.

I know so many people who have said they think the BPTC is a waste of time - and some of it is* - but on the whole I've found it an incredibly useful year, if only because it's actually made me concentrate on the law for the first time since my degree. I can honestly say that I feel more prepared for life at the Bar because of the BPTC, and not in spite of it.

Yes, I know that things will be really quite different when (if) I manage to con some poor Set into offering me pupillage, and I'm sure I'll be one of those people who looks back at the course and scoffs: "Dear me, what a waste of time that was, I had to relearn everything in my first six"; but I hope this post will remain as testament to the fact that now, 13 hours and 54 minutes until the course is over, I really enjoyed it.

I would, however, say that it seems to have very few transferable skills - if I don't get pupillage the course will, quite literally, have been a waste of sixteen grand; but we'll worry about that at some point in the future (and, hopefully, never).

*I won't say which parts are nonsense as I'm reliably informed that one of my teachers reads this blog now


  1. Ooh... teachers reading your blog?? ... SCARY!! :-\

    Rather you than me!! ;-)

  2. What you will realise is that when you come to do pupillage, speaking from experience, everything is just wrong!

    From how you are supposed to act, to drafting, to legal research - most of it is at such a foundation level or just inaccurate

  3. MichaelM - I'm afraid I disagree. During pupillage I was shown how to improve my skills by some. Others were great lawyers but poor teachers. I preface my points below by saying that I did my pupillage and was a tenant at a band 1 (as stated by the guides, I know every set thinks they are 'leading') set. I was pupil to and sat with some of the best in their field and learnt much. To say that is true of every person who does pupillage however, is not.

    The vast majority of pupil supervisors are very good at doing just that. The bar as a whole, is not. Bar School is done a disservice by members of the bar for a number of reasons:

    (i) Some people were taught poorly so they assume everyone was taught poorly
    (ii) Having little idea as to what the BPTC entails. Pre 1998 (the BVC) the bar exams were an academic course with no practical skills taught or assessed. Some people at the bar still have no idea that it's changed.
    (iii) The snob factor "I'm a real Barrister and they aren't". Utter nonsense. Being in practice does not, de facto, make you a better lawyer and almost certainly doesn't make you a better teacher
    (iv) The inability to teach those who aren't 'just like them'. There are some members of the bar who are brilliant pupil supervisors who nurture and encourage. There are others who expect you to learn their written style in seconds and then churn out documents for them and do it there way. If you can't you're incapable in their view.

    Pupillage is an enlightening experience and an essential part of your legal education. So is the BPTC, it's just far easier to complain about the latter because (a) you paid for it and (b) you are part of a large group.

    Remember though, it's easier to promote yourself or your way of thinking by comparing it to what came before. It's no different to the builder saying "Oooh, which cowboy did that".

  4. I speak as someone who did the bar 2 years ago. I did my pupillage and I am now a tenant in a Chambers in Manchester.

    For me, what I was taught was just not helpful and was completely contradictory to how I work now and how a lot of my opponents and moc's work.

    It's just my view...