As some of you may know, I have just recently completed my LLB degree. As a recent graduate (unable to attend a graduation ceremony yet) I feel extremely glad to have achieved what I have up to now – a degree in law. Graduating with a 2.1 upper second class undergrad LLB is an honour, and I graduate with honours.
This is when the real journey starts. Granted, I could have recorded my progress on my LLB and I considered doing so many times. The time wasn’t right and at the end of the day, the journey starts now, not during a course when you have no clue as to the future.
Satan once said that… no quotes from the devil in the same post as the law! A honourable and age old profession, lawyers are one of the oldest professions in the world. The legal profession has its origin in ancient Greece and Rome. Not quite as old as toolmakers or tailors, but relatively. If a couple of thousand years counts. To this day, the barristers of England and Wales must be a member of one of the four Inns of Court. Namely, the Lincolns Inn, Grays Inn, Middle Temple and Inner Temple. The temples have roots in the knights templar and the original knights templar Temple Church is located within Inner Temple grounds. Hosting the yearly ‘crossing the bar’ ceremonies. Some would say that the general area of Temple, London, is one big elite showground where big money talks and large, costly infrastructure gentrifies you as soon as you enter the area. Notable for its historic buildings, including the Royal Courts of Justice building, a recognisable legal piece.
The barristers of England and Wales also get a reputation for being paid a lot. I can assure you that with some research and general internet reading that this is not the case. Solicitors have the stability and high pay of prestigious law firms and they instruct barristers to work in court on their clients behalf. A steady income for many. Barristers on the other hand are self employed, earning from the work they do and not a penny more. They have chambers rent, overheads, accountant fees, clerk fees, travel costs, indemnity insurance and the list is rather extensive. Naturally the longer they practice the more of a reputation they have and more income. Trainee barristers completing their ‘pupillage’ – a year long apprenticeship with chambers, are given a lump sum of money at the start… and criminal law is abysmal both in terms of pupillage awards and general pay, probably being the lowest paid out of all areas coupled with public law.
So they don’t earn a lot off the bat. In fact, they have accumulated in the region of £50-£60,000 in debt to become a barrister. It’s a 3 part journey. First, the degree. I say degree, because you can complete any degree, yes any, and then complete a 1 year graduate diploma in law (GDL) before progressing to stage 2, the bar practice or vocational course (BPC). They have recently updated the courses and now there are more options when choosing this path, including splitting the course into two, but more on that later. So, the GDL is essentially a fast track course and to be honest, I do not accept that GDL students can possibly learn and comprehend 3 years of law study in a year, including exams.
Anyway, rage aside, from either the law degree or GDL you go onto the barrister training course. The course consists of theoretical and practical exams, mock trials, plenty of advocacy and courtroom practice, mooting, pro bono (if you want) and the possibility to combine a master of law (LLM) with the course.
The costs for the bar course and a masters is going to set you back between £13,000 to £20,000, depending on study location and university or institute offering it. Passing the course is hard like anything else, more so for law students as its tons of reading and stressful work hours. There is also no guarantee of passing nor of going on to successfully get a pupillage. Many graduates work as paralegals during their courses to gain invaluable experience. I am completing pro bono voluntary work currently with an ‘environmental’ law firm. Don’t worry, I won’t blame the course fees on the environment.
So there you have it. I hope this post is of interest to someone out there. I also hope you enjoyed reading it. I will be posting things on this page, including photos when I get a camera phone again, so that you can follow my journey. It might be a weekly post, it may be a monthly post. All I know is, I can’t wait to sip that cold mojito on that warm beach.
3 thoughts on “Welcome to the start of my journey!”
Very informative post.
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You’re welcome. 🙂
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