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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School

How to succeed in a career at the Bar

Published: 6 March 2013

Many law students dream of a career at the Bar. But it is not easy to gain a place in Chambers. The highs and lows of advocacy in the courts were graphically described by barrister James Wakefield in one of the Southampton Law School’s Employability Skills Programme.

Second year students were challenged to come up with questions for trial witnesses in a fictional case following a road accident. The interactive exercise tested their grasp of detail and their ability to use the agreed facts and witness statements to their advantage.

The undergraduates learned how barristers carefully marshall the evidence, developing their arguments to enable the judge and jury to reach the ‘right’ conclusion based on the facts. “Advocacy is 95 percent preparation,” explains James, from Kaplan Law School. “If you can’t describe to the taxi driver on your way to the court how you’re going to win, you won’t win.”

Around a quarter of law students are interested in pursuing a career at the Bar. Alex Lombos, who is academic events officer at the Southampton Law Society, says: “It is good to learn more about what it’s like to train as a barrister although it can take a lot of time and money to gain all the qualifications.”

Kaplan Law School offers the Bar Professional Training course (BPTC) which is essential for a legal career as a barrister, together with the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC), which qualify students for a career as a solicitor. Many Southampton graduates have successfully completed these qualifications and now hold senior positions in the UK and around the world.

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