When BBC series MasterChef set its contestants the task of cooking a qualifying session dinner at Middle Temple, it knew it would be a stern test.
With 230 barristers to feed – including two Supreme Court judges, three Lord Justices of Appeal, four High Court judges and 26 QCs – the culinary hopefuls slaved away for over eight hours to prepare their three course fine-dining experience.
Asked in last night's episode of the show how they enjoyed the food – which was delivered by the exhausted wannabes despite a couple of significant behind-the-scenes mishaps – most barristers issued generous praise.
As the cost of doing the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) rises another notch to £16,540 following a further round of fee hikes by law schools, cash-strapped Camilla Duchess of Cornwall has been made a barrister for free.
Upon receiving the award in a ceremony last night at Gray’s Inn, the Mon Fertile Finishing School alumnus said: "I think it's very important to keep everything sort of ticking."
The Duchess follows in the footsteps of her husband, Prince Charles, and her step son, William Saviour of the Falkland Islands, in attaining elite legal status. Charles was called to the Bar, also at Gray’s Inn, in 1975, while William was made an honorary barrister by Middle Temple in 2009. None will ever practise, although William hilariously quipped that he may pull on a wig to deal with “the odd speeding ticket.”
Unable to secure a pupillage in London, Shafik Cassim has had more luck in Mauritius
This time last year, I was drafting yet another list of places to apply for pupillage in England and Wales. Little did I know then that I’d find myself doing my pupillage on the beautiful island of Mauritius.
Actually, it wasn’t such a shock. I was born and raised in Mauritius. But with dual British nationality, I had moved several years ago to London to study law; first at undergraduate level, then via an LLM in public international law, before completing the Bar Vocational Course (now the Bar Professional Training Course).
Afterwards, I decided to stay in the UK and attempt to secure pupillage in one of London’s top sets – a quest that proved not unlike chasing the holy grail. After a couple of years of reading rejection letters, I decided to come back to Mauritius, where I secured a pupillage at one of the island’s top sets and was called to the Mauritian Bar.
Why do the Inns of Court make public their combined £4.7m scholarship fund, but refuse to disclose the revenue they generate from their massive property portfolios? Inner Temple recruitment manager Anthony Dursi sheds some light on this bugbear of journalist Alex Aldridge, while corporate lawyer Kevin Poulter wonders out loud whether anyone really cares.
There's also inside info on Inns scholarships. Which Inns interview all applicants? Which award according to need? Which award on merit only?
Yesterday a press release from the College of Law appeared in my inbox, headed COLLEGE OF LAW LAUNCHES SCHOLARSHIPS FOR BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) STUDENTS.
An hour or so later I noticed Lawyer2B had published it as a news story. Now, usually when journalists write on-diary news they tone down the frequently hyperbolic tone of press releases. But in this instance, conscious that the story wasn’t all that exciting perhaps, Lawyer2B hyped it up.
The first line read: “The College of Law (CoL) has thrown a vital life-line to would-be barristers after launching two new dedicated scholarships.”
Follow @OccupyTheInns Unless the legal profession acts, an occupation of the Inns of Court could become inevitable, argues OccupyTheInns
During the last few days I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is not currently a realistic objective to occupy the Inns of Court. It has become clear to me that it is simply too dangerous for most law graduates without training contracts or pupillages to attempt an occupation. I include myself in this group. As angry and disheartened as I may be, I continue to be hopeful of obtaining pupillage, and indeed have had some positive news on that front.
For that reason I can see that protest is something that all disenfranchised law graduates must approach with caution. Nevertheless, I am proud of this campaign for raising a good deal of awareness on the matter, notwithstanding some disappointing comments in response to the words I have written. Sadly, I expect more to follow these words.
I make the above statement of retreat with a caveat, however. If a year or two passes and a sizeable number of law graduates remain without pupillages and training contracts, and without the hope of securing one, then the situation could be very different. At that point, it may be more dangerous to continue sleep-walking in a basic legal support role than to publicly draw attention to the situation through an occupation of the Inns of Court.
In the summer of 2000 I was fortunate enough to visit New York with my family. One of the best moments of that trip was looking down at the city from one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Just over a year later those towers had been destroyed. At first I was shocked and angry with the senseless terrorists who had committed this atrocity. But as the US invaded Afghanistan in retaliation, then Iraq, and opened up the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba to hold detainees from those wars, my views began to change.
Why were the detainees being held without trial? Why were they not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Convention? Amongst all the lawlessness shown by the Bush administration I learnt for the first time about the rule of law, and how necessary it was to civilised society.
Follow @OccupyTheInns Jobless law graduates should follow the St Paul's protesters' example, argues OccupyTheInns
As the Occupy Wall Street camp is cleared, and the City of London commences legal action against the Occupy London protesters, why am I proposing the occupation of the Inns of Court? Simple. Because I, and many law graduates like me, are angry. As we have seen in Egypt, New York and at home in London, anger can be a great energiser.
Through no fault of our own, a generation of Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) graduates find ourselves with no jobs – or no jobs as lawyers anyway. The lucky ones are paralegals. The unlucky ones work in bars (not the Bar).
Despite the size of London, I always seem to bump into people I wouldn’t expect to see. Idly checking Facebook one day while I was tidying up at work, I saw an old university friend had ‘checked into’ Lincoln’s Inn. I sent her a message asking her what she was doing. She responded that she had since moved on to check out the Temple Church and was enjoying a drink in a bar called Pegasus. I told her to wait there, as Inner Temple is my Inn and I was planning on heading to Pegasus anyway after work.
After the usual exchange of ‘so how have you been?’, she asked me what the Inn was about. I explained very poorly, “This is one of the four institutions where that trained people in the skills required of barristers. They don’t really do that anymore, but you still have to join an Inn to become a barrister.”