Testing Times


A week later, I turned up at Two Oak Court. After introductions to some barristers in chambers, I spent a few hours with Jeremy Higgins going through the facts and pleadings of a case he was working on. He’d been on the pupillage interview panel and was a very upbeat, cheerful and enthusiastic man with a flourishing practice. In his late thirties, he was balding, lean and wore a sharp pin striped suit with a thin red tie. He graduated from Cambridge with a First Class Honours in law. Continue reading

This Is It


On a gloriously sunny morning, I went through the main gates of the Inn of Court. With the hall to one side and a square to the other, I walked until the shade of a single tree stood firm against the imposing buildings. I looked up at its leaves and then the dappled sunlight on the courtyard. Two Oak Court had daunting stone steps leading to the wooden door of the chambers. I wore black shoes, a cheap dark suit and white shirt. Adjusting the knot of my maroon tie, I paused as the steps loomed before me. I walked up with eyes fixed on the barristers’ names on the hand-painted board. Steadying my breathing, I felt calm. I had to perform under pressure this time. Inside, I walked down a narrow corridor and by the deserted waiting room. A greying clerk in his late forties smiled. Continue reading

Last Chance


Following two interviews at a leading medical negligence chambers, the candidates were narrowed down to two, including me. We did the third interview and a speech on a set topic with limited time to prepare. It was about surgical techniques and professional medical standards. After this, we were taken to separate rooms and awaited the result. The senior clerk, a man in his mid-fifties with brown to greying hair, told me in a measured tone I’d performed extraordinarily well given that I had no medical experience. But the other candidate had been offered the pupillage because he was a medically-qualified doctor. That was probably the right result. I was gutted. And I still didn’t have an offer after nearly twenty interviews. Continue reading

Things Could Be Going Better


My interview performances still left a bit to be desired. I went to an interview at a prestigious set of chambers. It was a strange interior, with dark oak panelled passageways sloping upwards without the apparent need for stairs anywhere. It was like an exclusive roller-blading club. The waiting room was packed with candidates and the interview was led by three upper class and incredibly serious barristers. We humourlessly trawled through my CV and functionally delved into some areas of law. Continue reading

Meet The Scoffers

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I was interviewing for pupillage even before Bar School began. I turned up for my first interview at a set of chambers in Stone Buildings on a warm afternoon. It was a swish chancery chambers, one of the very best, and I met a clerk who gave me a case summary to read before my interview. It involved the bare facts of a corporate insolvency and hinted at fraudulent trading. Okay, I got the gist of the legal aspects of the case, so I waited for my interview. Continue reading

Try My Best


Bar School was proceeding well enough and I went to the Inn of Court at lunchtimes for something to eat in the student restaurant. Sometimes I met other students there; other times I whiled the hour away people-watching the Henrys and Henriettas hooraying in loud voices. Continue reading

Bar School


I travelled into London on the tube for the first day of Bar School. Along the Central line to Holborn, I went up the long escalators wondering what it would be like. When I arrived, the place was rammed with students. I signed the enrolment forms and was given details of my tutor group. I received all the course text books – which were A4 sized and filled two big plastic bags – and headed off to the pub with my tutor group. There were some down to earth students and others who were very well spoken. I tried to avoid most law students at Oxford Brookes University because they were snobbish, so this was going to be odd as I would be surrounded by law students all day long. Continue reading



There was a new application process for Bar School, which involved completing an application form and sitting an entrance exam. I spent months preparing for that exam, which focussed on critical reasoning – an analysis of facts, evidence, relevance, fallacy, evaluation, inference and conclusion. Continue reading



I joined an Inn of Court, which provides services for and a disciplinary role over barristers. It was a prerequisite to going to Bar School. My savings had run out and I plunged into debt with no way of paying it off. I needed a scholarship to have any chance of financially making it through training for the Bar. I applied and looked at the list of previous successful candidates. It was lined with Oxbridge and a smattering of red-brick Universities. I knew it was a long shot, but worth a try. A few months later, I was invited for an interview. Continue reading



Michelle and I boarded a Monday morning coach from London to get our degree results. It was all quite relaxed until we neared Headington and I clammed up. This was an important day. If I didn’t get an LLB with First Class Honours, my chosen career would be over before it had even begun. I’d heard about snobbery in the legal profession and my education was from an ex-Poly. Continue reading