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Former refugee with first class law degree bids to crowdfund BPTC

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Plucky east Londoner needs £12,000 to do bar course

Lead

A woman who came to Britain as a refugee child from war torn Africa is the latest to bid to finance a legal qualification through online crowdfunding.

Pamela Okende, a 27-year-old payment protection insurance caseworker at the Financial Services Ombudsman’s office, is aiming to raise more than £12,000 from strangers so she can take a place on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

The mother of three launched a crowdfunding site about 10 days ago. She has raised more than £400 so far, but remains a long way shy of the required total.

Okende has a place at City University Law School in London — along with a £5,000 scholarship from the institution — to do the BPTC. She graduated with a first-class honours degree in law from London Metropolitan University three years ago and has been working for the ombudsman since 2013.

Even to have reached this far down the road to a legal qualification is an impressive feat for Okende. Her family left the central African country of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the early-1990s and sought asylum in the UK.

Raised in east London, Okende attended a local state secondary school, where her interest in law was first piqued during GCSE studies.

Despite being a stellar law student at university, her lecturers initially advised against pursuing a career as a barrister.

Initially I thought about qualifying as a solicitor,” Okende told Legal Cheek yesterday, “because at university the clear message was that the bar was not for women from my type of background. One lecturer specifically discouraged me from thinking about a career as a barrister, saying: ‘You will not see many people that look like you at the bar.’

But a stint with the charity the Free Representation Unit rekindled Okende’s interest in the bar. And last June she did a mini-pupillage at Lamb Chambers in the Temple; she has also done some marshalling at Blackfriars Crown Court.

Okende now has about a month to raise the best part of £12,000. If she does so, Okende says that her heart lies with social welfare practice areas such as housing and immigration. However, she points out that during her law degree she was very strong in contract and general commercial subjects as well.

On the crowdfunding site, Okende says:

As a woman of refugee background and a mother of three children — I am passionate to ensure that the fundamental principles of law are upheld. In whichever legal area I practice, I am determined that its principles — that none is above it, and the well-being of citizens are paramount — will be maintained.

Punters pledging £500 to her cause will be invited to Okende’s graduation party. While those contributing £1,000 or more will also get a front-row seat at her call ceremony.

Okende will be hoping her funding effort is as successful as that of Rachael Owhin. Last September, the Sussex University law graduate raised £10,000 online to partially fund a place at Oxford University to do a masters in migration studies.

Watch Okende’s crowdfunding appeal video in full below:

145 Comments

Anonymous

“One lecturer specifically discouraged me from thinking about a career as a barrister, saying: ‘You will not see many people that look like you at the bar.’”

It is simply shocking how many third rate academics peddle this inverted snobbery nonsense and discourage the able from achieving their full potential.

Whether it is in relation to Oxbridge applications or pupillage, it is wrong and self-reinforcing to tell good students that “it’s not for people like you”. The admirable and determined like Ms. Okende might not be discouraged, but how many others have been?

There are many reasons one should be wary about pursuing a career at the bar. It is extremely competitive, wrongfully expensive and (now) in many instances poorly rewarded. A person might be unsuited for it because their academic ability or advocacy can’t cut it. Telling someone that they should reconsider because of their background (and one presumes from context, the colour of their skin) is ignorant, prejudicial and worst of all potentially destructive to an able person’s career.

(51)(1)

Not Amused

You wrote this far better than I could have done and I fully endorse everything you say.

It is incredibly easy for bitter individuals with an axe to grind to just tell impressionable kids that X organisation is racist/anti-poor/sexist/bigoted/homophobic etc. They are believed because the innocent kid knows no better.

Oxbridge and the Bar both put in a simply staggering amount of money and man hours in to trying to convince people otherwise. But the fact is that one negative comment from a bitter person can require 10 times as much effort to dispel once someone starts to believe it – and it is so easy, so seductive for everyone who fails to believe that it wasn’t them but some form of bias in the ‘system’ that prevented them succeeding.

These are pernicious and seductive lies. They are the temptation of all humans. They are in essence no different from racism. Just as it is tempting and seductive for people to believe that it is not their own academic failures of laziness which prevented them getting a job but instead it was “migrants”.

I support a total crack down on this loose talk. I want those who spout this rubbish publicly named and challenged. We as a society can no longer tolerate the bitter amongst us who disincentivise our young people with such a casual lie.

I hope this young lady succeeds. I think there is a mountain to climb and I am unsure I support the idea of crowd funding – why do we pay all this money to Inns if people don’t apply for Inn scholarships?

(30)(4)

jurisdoctor

All this is very noble but the reality is that if she doesn’t have the money to pay for the BPTC she won’t have the possibility to survive without a pupillage and tenancy. So I wonder if the advice was really so misplaced. You seem to disregard how competitive the profession is. The fact she did not get a full scholarship for the Inn is not good news and paying for her BPTC is not the answer.

(11)(3)

Pantman

This kind of “advice” is given in state schools throughout a child’s education – “oh, no, you can’t do that”. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

I’m very impressed by her determination but it does strike me as odd that she doesn’t have a scholarship from her inn. Would it not be sensible to apply again next year given that these are the usual, and often very lucrative, sources of funding?

Either way, good on her!

(22)(0)

City Lawyah

Ehm, it’s a First Class degree from a glorified hairdressing college, always plopping comfortably at the bottom of nearly every league table.

Whilst I wish her all the best, maybe it would have been better to apply to a more established university to start with? A London Met diploma is effectively bog roll.

(54)(229)

Yeah

The lecturer was clearly wrong and untactful in making the statement about her prospects of success at the Bar. A teacher’s primary role is to inspire.

However, what he/she could have pointed out is the great presence of snobby, little (expletive of your choice) like “City Lawyah”. These people think that their own success in the profession is predetermined by getting a low number on a certificate from a Russell Group university. These are people who are overflowing with confidence and nothing else, a really dangerous bunch. Their cockiness might attract a client but are just as likely to mess up the work and end up being “schooled” by the actual client on business and legal matters (been a witness on 1 or 2 occasions).

Also, I’ve met a lot of graduates from less “fancy” educational backgrounds who ran circles around the academically more respectable representatives in both formal and informal debates.

But I have to admitt that the constant comparison and belittling of achievements will have some detrimental effect on the self-belief of those on the receiving end and that’s why some will never make it.

City Lawyah, I would love to see you get to where you are now (if what you claim to be in your name section is true) with a similar background as the lady in the article. She has real determination and fight in her, some people prefer that.

(45)(14)

Bar to Success

She may have ‘real determination and fight’ but that’s all she has.

(6)(22)

Anonymous

As a practising barrister I can reliably inform you: that’s all she needs.

The Bar needs more people like Pamela Okemde.

(2)(2)

Bazza McBozzles

Heheh, chippy London Met graduate spotted! Tell me, was the degree paper at least softer than your average three-ply Kleenex or SilkRoll?

(15)(49)

Anonymous

Jesus, these comments are so so mean (but absolutely hilarious.) I feel guilty for laughing. The phrase “saying what we were all thinking” comes to mind.

(10)(8)

Pantman

Some people don’t have the same choices you may have, or don’t recognise the issues.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Lol, 199 dislikes? Has this been posted on London Met’s student union page or something? ‘Dislike the comment to secure our honour!’

(12)(208)

City Lawyah

200 downvotes? Yeeeeaaah boiiiii, I made it to the most hated comment on Legal Cheek!!! The London Met bog roll commando are out in major numbers today! Don’t forget to contribute to the crowdfund!

(12)(1)

Anonymous

I don’t think there’s an agenda here, people just think you’re a wally.

(1029)(6)

Garbo

That’s right Pam, give the lad hell for saying what’s on everyone’s mind – your London Met squad did not disappoint today. Best of luck with your worthless degrees fellas!

(2)(4)

Bog Roll

1000 likes for this doss comment – so many chippy London Met grads out on LC tonight, I’m loving this

(2)(3)

Anonymous

How many arses have you wiped today?

(1)(3)

Why

This site encourages the scum of the legal world to hide behind their nasty comments on here.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Firstly, I wish her the best of luck with her career endeavours.

However, I feel compelled to ask why she can’t just get an Inn of Court scholarship to fund the BPTC like everyone else? If she has indeed tried and failed – and I’m not trying to be cruel here – but getting pupillage may prove even more difficult than it already is.

(28)(1)

Anonymous

I feel I should also add that I have it on good authority that some (I’m not saying all) chambers often look straight to the ‘awards’ section of pupillage applications and bin those which don’t have any Inn Scholarships. I know this might sound rather harsh, but essentially a panel of very experienced barristers has already examined the CV and grilled the prospective candidate, and quantified their belief in the potential ability with cold hard cash.

When you’ve got hundreds of applications to sift through one has to admit that this is, whether you like it or not, a rather logical and understandable thing to do.

(17)(2)

Anonymous

Whereas I agree with your general sentiment that a failure to get a scholarship should be a real wake-up call, your comment “on good authority” is definitely not true. I didn’t get a scholarship because I didn’t apply for one. I got 14 pupillage interviews.

(10)(2)

Query

Why in God’s name would you not apply for a scholarship?

And would you care to tell us how many pupillage offers you received from your 14 interviews?

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Missed the deadline for personal reasons. 6 offers (though not sure that’s relevant to the point at issue!).

Barristers tend to be stubborn and independent-minded – I can’t see many being happy to delegate their assessment of candidates to the Inns.

(10)(1)

Query

It’s relevant because the fact you got 6 offers indicates that your CV is impressive, even without an Inns scholarship. It’s unlikely that someone who gets 6 offers wouldn’t also have an Inns scholarship. You are clearly an exception – and, besides, you said yourself it was due to personal reasons. But that does not mean that all people without scholarships should be encouraged to do the BPTC. In Ms Okende’s case, her CV is not impressive enough to make up for her lack of Inns scholarship.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

Fully agree that not getting a scholarship should be a wake-up call, as I’ve already said. What I’m disputing is your comment that many chambers use scholarships as an initial filtering mechanism.

(4)(0)

Lol

I completely agree. Getting an Inns scholarship is not necessarily determinative of whether one gets pupillage but it is a good indicator that you have the requisite ability.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Good work with the duplicate post.

(1)(9)

Anonymous

I concur.

There are also professional development loans from high street banks that can be taken out for this very purpose. I see no reason why she has not pursued this avenue before asking for handouts for a course that will not be what she expects it to be in reality, will take her away from her husband and children and put her in pupillage purgatory thereafter.

Whilst I appreciate her foresight for trying to personally evade the ridiculous fees for the BPTC that we have all had to pay, I do not see that crowd funding for a career at the Bar, without having secured pupillage already, is going to be a success.

Lots of aspiring barristers have first class law degrees. Lots of BPTC Students have children. Tugging on heart strings and over-egging refugee status, bearing in mind that she will have been 2 at the time she came to the UK, is, in my opinion, disingenuous.

I feel also that she has left this crowd funding a little late. If she truly wished to become a barrister, a little forward financial planning would not have gone a miss. Its not like the price tag for the BPTC can be overlooked, and careful consideration would have allowed a reasonable person to plan accordingly.

it would be interested to find out if she is doing the PT of FT course – both can be funded and she chose PT, she could work, gain experience and not ask everyone to turn out their pockets.

If this was on Dragons Den, everyone would be ‘out’.

(26)(3)

Hoggo

Someone bring out the burn cream!

(5)(0)

Pantman

The weak part of her pitch is that she doesn’t give any financial details – as you say, she could continue working and do the course part-time, which at the very least would mitigate the living expenses. She also doesn’t go with the gambit that she will not do the BPTC without the £12k – so I think it’s reasonable to assume that she will find the money, one way or another.

(0)(1)

Anon

I agree with the above. She is not the only BPTC student with children. Some of us deferred our plans so we could save up a little longer or opted for the PT route.

(11)(2)

Bar to Success

For anyone thinking about contributing to her crowdfunding page, please have a look at this…

London Metropolitan University
BA (Hons) Law entry requirements:

“In addition to the University’s standard entry requirements, you should have:
– GCSE English at grade C or above, or Higher Diploma (or equivalent)
– At least 280 points, including at least two A-levels or a level 3 Advanced Diploma, or equivalent”

So, essentially, in order to get a place to study law at this institution, you can get three Cs at A-level plus a C at AS. Alternatively, you can get two Bs at A-level plus two Cs at AS. TWO A-LEVELS TO GET INTO UNIVERSITY. TO STUDY LAW. Ms Okende may well have surpassed these requirements (I bloody hope she has). Nevertheless, being a “stellar law student” at London Met, relative to those people who achieved 3 Cs at A-level, is not necessarily something to shout about.

Now, let’s look at what we know about her CV:
– First-class law degree from an institution that condones poor grades;
– City Law School £5,000 scholarship;
– One mini-pupillage from a shit chambers (sorry Lamb);
– Marshalling;
– Volunteering with the FRU;
– Working for the ombudsman.

CLS (formally) offer 10 full-fee scholarships and 100 £3,000 scholarships across their postgraduate courses, so I’m not sure how she got £5,000, but in any case this is probably the only thing that stands out on her CV. One mini-pupillage from Lamb Chambers plus marshalling is insufficient. Volunteering with the FRU is something everyone aiming for the Bar should do; she has not told us about any particular successes she has had which would stand out.

I’m all for helping people to actualise their potential and realise their dreams, but only when there is evidence that they can make it. Nobody should risk their money crowd-funding someone who has neither the academic credentials nor enough Bar-related experience to be in with a realistic chance of bagging a pupillage.

I appreciate that Ms Okende was pregnant whilst completing her degree and that she now has three children; I admire her determination in that respect. But it is grossly unfair on her (not to mention the people who will end up crowdfunding her) to donate to her pledge and encourage her to waste money aiming for a career path which is, unfortunately, out of her reach. There are plenty of things you can do with a law degree which don’t require your CV to be truly “stellar”. I would urge her to reconsider.

(20)(53)

jurisdoctor

I agree. I find the audacity to ask strangers to fund your education rather disturbing. There are plenty of scholarship for the really talented one. If you didn’t get a Inn scholarship and you don’t have the money you can get a loan like everyone else. Why should anyone subsidise her dream ?

(18)(35)

Anonymous

Slightly off-topic but is Lamb Chambers really ‘shit’? I’ll be applying for pupillage soon but should I discount them (Cambridge 1st)?

(3)(12)

Bar to Success

My reason for saying ‘shit’ was that it isn’t a ranked set in either Chambers & Partners or the Legal 500, and I haven’t heard particularly great things about it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t apply – after all, pupillages are few and far between. If it’s a set that does the kind of work you’re interested in, then go for it.

(4)(12)

Anonymous

Does the absence from the rankings imply (strongly or otherwise) that it might not be the best place to establish a reasonably remunerative practice?

(2)(7)

Bar to Success

My argument was not that one cannot establish a ‘reasonably remunerative practice’ there. That is not the issue at hand. Ms Okende has only had one mini-pupillage, along with some marshalling. That does not amount to sufficient Bar-related work experience for someone who wants to be taken seriously as a pupillage applicant. And the fact that her mini-pupillage was not at a ‘decent’ set–or rather, was not at a set which excels in one or more of her areas of interest (housing and immigration)–doesn’t help.

(1)(6)

Jon

There’s an obvious correlation between the two, but there are exceptions. Just remember that the law is a diverse place and rankings aren’t done by how much members of chambers earn, but the quality of the work they do. A criminal silk can earn less than a middle-of-the-road commercial barrister.

For London, Lamb are pretty lowly. Small, non-specialist mixed civil set with only 1 silk. I just had a peruse of their site and they aren’t taking on pupils for 2016/17, which isn’t usually a good sign (no work). But I’m only guessing here.

In terms of CA$H MON£¥ it could still be profitable though, I suppose it just depends on your definition of “reasonably remunerative”. Juniors of 5/6/7 years call doing PI, employment and general commercial work (whilst not necessarily very exciting) can earn well over £200k. As a comparison, with the top chancery/commercial sets you’ll starting on £65k+, and you’ll be pushing half a million fairly quickly.

As an Oxbridge first, I would suggest you are able to aim a little ‘higher’ IF THE WORK INTERESTS YOU! Your academics will get you interviews no problem, but obviously that’s the easy bit as by then everyone has double-starred firsts, BCLs and MAs from Harvard. Best of luck.

(5)(11)

Anonymous

Interesting. It’s always a shame that nobody will say, even with appropriate disclaimers, roughly what one can expect to earn in various areas.

Would it be possible/ practical to move from somewhere like Lamb to one of the bigger, more remunerative, commercial sets?

(2)(19)

Bar to Success

No.

(6)(0)

The Bar Necessities

I think it rather depends on what you mean. If you look in the recruitment pages of Counsel magazine you will see all manner of chambers looking for people to expand their teams. Apparently, not so long ago, Blackstone were recruiting junior tenants… http://www.blackstonechambers.com/news/news/two_commercial.html

Having said that, most chambers would usually only recruit if someone can bring in work or help develop a practice area. So, for example, if you manage to carve out a nascent tax practice at a general chancery set, you might be able to tempt a specialist tax set (or a set with a tax team that wants to do more tax work) to take you on. At a junior stage you might be able to springboard an upward lateral move off something like the UKSC Judicial Assistant scheme or being a référendaire in the ECJ. Or you could become a solicitor at a City firm instead of going direct to the Bar (I know, not exactly easy in itself) and cross-qualify.

The honest answer, however, is that you’re an adult and have to make difficult choices for yourself. At some point you have to make a decision between the risk involved in trying to follow your dreams towards the fabulous wealth and prestige at the sort of sets that law students have wet dreams about, or setting your sights a rung or two down and increasing the likelihood of being taken on.

My own view? Ten years down the line a £250k a year PI practice will be worth a lot more than what remains of the shattered dreams of the £1mil/year banking–commercial practice that never was…

The Bar Necessities

I’m curious as to the source of these estimated receipts, particularly the suggestion that ‘with the top chancery/commercial sets…you’ll be pushing half a million fairly quickly.’ I suppose it all rather depends on how you define fairly quickly, but anecdotally I haven’t ever heard of junior tenants anywhere with average billings in the region of £10k a week.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Really helpful advice. Thank you very much!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah, perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit but the difference in earnings is still considerable.

I just asked an acquaintance of mine who works at a prestigious set. She is 6 years call and on £400k. A sample of 1 isn’t exactly conclusive, I know, but it’s what I’m running with.

My advice to the original student who asked about earnings is to do some [more?] mini pupillages. At the end of the day with a barrister you could politely ask them what they earn, or perhaps something along the lines of “what could I expect to earn after 5 years?” I know some may think this is a bit of a faux pas, but I say screw them. It’s important and it matters. Choosing the Bar as a career is a very risky business and aspirant barristers have a right to know what their potential earnings could be. Any decent barrister will understand this.

(0)(0)

The Bar Necessities

Fine. I can see someone at 6 years post-pupillage at a set with a lot of high-end commercial and com-chancery junior work achieving those kind of billings. I’d imagine it’s only really achievable if you have the opportunity to junior on very long and high-value cases.

For what it is worth, questions about money are better phrased as about cash-flow—this being a subject close to most barristers’ hearts…

Pantman

I’ve no A-levels and a first in law – does that make be any more of a twat than you are?

(13)(1)

Bar to Success

Great spelling, Mr First-in-law.

(0)(7)

Pantman

Sorry, I can’t spell cnut.

(10)(1)

Manpants

Dare you how banana
Off sod
1st have I do
Init bruv
Know wot I meen

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Sod off Mr First in Law.

(1)(1)

Why

You sound like a bunch of public school fools who have wasted your parents education by failing in life. The only thing you can do is correct grammar and spelling. Well done.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I would urge you to shut up

(0)(0)

All Bar None

Perhaps she should spend less time making children and more time focusing on how to appropriately fund her “dream”.

(16)(28)

Bar to Success

Ouch.

(1)(3)

Bazza McBozzles

Fuuuark, shots fired!

(4)(18)

Anonymous

Would you say that about a male applicant?

(7)(3)

Anonymous

I think he’s just a troll – it’s best to ignore his purposefully ignorant comment.

(0)(3)

trollolololol

haters gonna hate
potatoes gonna potate

(7)(1)

Anonymous

The finical burden of children applies irrespective of gender to be fair.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Yes.

No one has forced her to have a family. It was entirely her own decision for which she must attend to financially. How can we be expected to hand over our own money for a course which, on the balance of probabilities in the current pupillage climate, will not ensure that she fulfills all her sweeping statements to “influence and shape the development of the law” and “leave a lasting legacy to inspire young women (particularly young mums) to achieve highly”.

Not only should she be aware that a future at the Bar is a difficult one, especially when it comes to the division between work/family, but also, having spent any time at all looking into the profession, she would realise that instead of continually procreating and asking for handouts, the best way to approach a career at the Bar is to work hard, gain as much experience as possible early on and show to chambers that you truly deserve to be there.

Her CV does not show this. Post from above have shown the merits of her university, and her pitch on her crowd funding website lacks any form genuine desire to succeed (other than taking everyone’s money).

Is she is not going to be an investment worth having for Chambers, why should we invest in her at this stage?

(10)(20)

VTESI

Before the following I’d just like to point out that if she gets money towards the course and succeeds I’d be thrilled for her.

However:
1. She hasn’t really explained why she would make a good barrister. What she wrote isn’t persuasive.

2. So she’s an immigrant and a mother – so what? She mentions the refugee background but no mention of fleeing a warn torn country to come here etc. (Had this been the case, it might be more impressive.) Even if she wasn’t an immigrant, I’d want to hear about her ‘difficult life’ so that I could see if it was worthwhile to support her. She simply hasn’t provided a compelling reason for someone to support her over another person – the reason may or may not exist, but right now we have no way of knowing. (This reason is also important because life at the bar is tough, junior barristers are generally miserable, and one would want to know if she can hack it.)

[She also hasn’t explained why we should support her since she doesn’t have an Inn scholarship. (And I’m not of the opinion that an Inn Scholarship makes or breaks you, either, but many are.)]

3. She chose to have several kids and to work. One kid is one thing, 3 is another. That’s a choice that many other women don’t make so that they can pursue their career. Since kids cost money, why should we fund her future when she’s busy funding theirs?

4. Why not do the BPTC part time and work FT OR, why not get a training contract first etc?

Life isn’t fair. Lost of people have crappy parents, not enough money, or parents who for whatever reason can’t or don’t pay to help their kids become barristers. It’s even more unfair that the reality is that money gets you a long way towards a career at the bar – even kids I know with scholarships live with their parents and only manage an unpaid internship because they work two jobs etc. The barristers who are in their 40s and 50s now all had loans/grants – the situation is a lot harder nowadays. That doesn’t mean that those from poor backgrounds cannot succeed, but if they choose to do it by croudfunding or asking others to help them, they should really show that they’ve got the requisite capability to become barristers. I don’t see that here.

(17)(3)

Harvey

You raise some very good points but you have to admit that if she makes it that would be an excellent talking point at interviews. There is however a question that is troubling me. Would it make a difference if the invitation to call night would be given to everyone contributing £500 vs £1000 ?

(3)(0)

VTESI

Thank you. Well yes, it could be an interesting conversation starter. Then again, if she REALLY knew what she was doing (given that I think I read she already had to defer a year) why on earth did she wait until now to do the crowd funding idea? It seems to demonstrate a lack of awareness as to how things work and a lack of forward-planning, both of which are bar for a career at the bar, or really, a career.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

Surely she’ll only get a max allowance of, say, 3 tickets? First breach of contract case taken up merely minutes after Call maybe!

(4)(0)

Barwoman

I don’t think it’s advisable for anyone to do the BPTC without pupillage, especially in the absence of a stellar CV. If she were to get pupillage I think there would be a much stronger case for seeking contributions. Otherwise she is asking people to contribute to what is likely to be a waste of time and money.

I see that the Bar Council tweeted its support of this woman’s crowdfunding exercise, which I don’t consider appropriate.

(9)(5)

Harvey

The bar rewards risk takers. Not taking the BPTC unless someone has pupillage first shows that the applicant is, in essence, a coward.

(8)(9)

Anonymous

Absolute nonsense. Taking the BPTC before pupillage in the absence of a stellar CV shows an inability to interpret statistics and a lack of common sense.

(10)(0)

Harvey

Why so much negativity on London Met? Star Barrister Tunde Okewale is a London Met graduate (and doesn’t have a first) so nothing wrong with the Uni. She should wait till 2017 — the new version of the BPTC will be cheaper and shorter.

(9)(9)

Corpo Lawyah

You mean that ostentatious pigmy who happens to wear lime green waistcoats and pink bowler hats? His Instagram feed was so overwhelming I nearly completely forgot about him.

(14)(14)

Anonymous

Racist language – not ok.

(18)(6)

Anonymous

Sue me, dickwad.

(4)(3)

Young Black Barrister

Tunde Okewale went to London Metropolitan University, gained a 2.2 degree and he now works for one of the country’s leading Chambers – Doughty Street. If he can do it, you can too!. Never give up on your dreams.

(11)(9)

Harvey

Well said. So many people thinking too highly about their Universities…and so jealous. I don’t see any reason for a London Metropolitan law graduate to be less proud than someone that went to Oxbridge. Completing a law degree is a big achievement, anywhere.

(10)(7)

Anonymous

You what mate? Did you just seriously compare the achievement of an LLB from London Met with an Oxbridge law degree?

You ought to call up Doc Schwartz for meds son, something’s definitely wrong with your gulliver.

(6)(4)

Harvey

Let’s think this logically. If you or someone attended oxbridge you don’t know anything about London Met or any other as valuable University — why as valuable ? Because this is not a fancy MBA. It is a regulated profession and both are QLD in the eye of the law.

Now you assume that London Met is worse you don’t have any evidence to back up this claim. All you have is lower entry point in terms of A levels — more equal opportunities if you ask me. What you should value is the output. The is always a yawn is oxbridge graduates thinking they are better, that they studied in a better University. All anecdotal and a big self-fulfilling prophecy.

At least she has a 1st In Law from a good London University and not a oxbridge degree in something completely useless (e.g. classics comes to mind) + GDL.
Even BA Jurisprudence vs. LLB (Hons) underlines the difference. LL.B is way more fancier.

Oxbridge spends hours and hours of tutorials to ensure that the students are well trained so achieving a 1st with so much less help should be commended.

(3)(14)

Anon

Are you trolling? LL.B fancier than BA Jurisprudence from Oxford? London Met a good London university?

(4)(2)

Ganga

Dude, hook me up with your dealer plz, I’d love to try out whatever model you’re smoking.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

How about we drop the “Oxbridge” epithet, “Oinkbridge” sounds much more appropriate.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

How nice of you to join us, Tunde.

(11)(20)

Anonymous

…and all your friends are now here too, how nice.

(3)(12)

Anonymous

‘Young Black Barrister’ – loooool, I smell Tunde’s around

(2)(0)

Harvey

I think that many people underestimate the generosity of the legal community. At least she is not trying to finance a master (which was successful for another crowd funder btw). This is no different than applying for a scholarship but is a more democratic process. This is what the inns should do: let every barrister member vote in a similar platform.

Is this a case of jealousy as she tried this first? She was very clever in trying this. She risks nothing yet she could be successful (if only she adds some more interesting perks and call night invitation for a £500 donation)

(2)(5)

Heinous Heinz

Agreed, if she offered a tugjob or maybe a blowie for a donation, I’d gladly chip in £20.

(8)(35)

VTESI

Would you feel differently if someone was croud funding an LLM?!

(1)(0)

Harvey

yes absolutely. An LL.M or a Master is not required to enter the profession so she would need to explain a lot more. This said the other case was successful in crowdfunding a £10K master in migration studies at Oxford.
Apparently the way to market your crowdfunding campaign makes a difference.

To many people donating £10 or even 50-100 is not a big deal. The big issue here is how difficult is to be successful at the bar so financing the BPTC isn’t really going to help much either.

Still at least she is trying something new. I wouldn’t mind to see many more trying this route and help some people out if I find the story (and let’s not forget the perks!) sufficiently interesting.

(3)(0)

VTESI

So here’s a partially made up story for you to assess: My LLM fees at a good redbrick are due in 6 weeks. It’s an LLM that will give me the sufficient theoretical background for my preferred area of practice, helps me to work internationally in the future, buys time to do more extra curriculars and I’m thoroughly excited by the course. I’ve had feedback that it is a good move to make, most internships in my field require an LLM and no one chooses to undertake an LLM lightly. I want to be a publicy funded barrister in the future.

I’ve overcome rather large doses of adversity, more than most people in the UK manage, but not of the war-torn variety. Hard to make up a more specific example here, but more adversity than most. Despite the adversity, I got a 2:1, Commendation on the GDL, many minis, did some mooting and debating, internship at a legal charity, volunteered with all sorts of people/ organisations and during my degree I had part time jobs… Barristers who offer me advice (through my own networking,) have told me that I’m a good candidate for pupillage. Haven’t yet applied for an Inn Scholarship for BPTC, and didn’t apply for GDL scholarship as I found out about it too late.

I live with my parents and so my expenses are low; bring sandwiches into uni, I don’t party or spend money on coffee outside the house etc. However, my parents, due to unforseen circumstances, are now in financial trouble – so just weeks before the 13K fees are due (has to be paid in one lump sum) they don’t know how they can afford it. Let’s say that no one else in my family can help, I’m uneligible for a career development loan and doing it part time is not an option, for the sake of argument.

The Perks you get from helping me out: You get your money back, but not for at least 5 years, so I’d probably include interest. (Actually the likelihood is you’d get it back within a year, but why make that promise?!) You also get the warm fuzzy feeling of helping someone who has a consistent record of succeeding despite near-intolerable pressures, and to help someone with a good shot at the bar. [Okay, I couldn’t think of anything else more exciting here…]

SO, who feels like contributing now?!

NB: this profile is part me, part a friend of mine. Details kept vague for obvious reasons, but this profile should tick most of the boxes that get you to pupillage… you get the idea of the kind of person I’m thinking of who might get close to deserving of money via crowd funding. My point is, this woman doesn’t get close to ‘deserving’, or simply hasn’t explained her story properly for it to deserve serious consideration.

(3)(3)

VTESI

Oh and of course since this example the person has no scholarship, no first (sorry, a first from a rubbish university isn’t more impressive than a 2:1 from a good university), no prizes etc, yet this person is still more impressive than other crowd funding candidates, is my point. They have at least demonstrated qualities for the bar.

(0)(0)

harvey

Thanks for sharing your partially made up story. To answer your question if I would feel like contributing it really depends.

The idea to give the money back is a bad one. Usually these that are willing to donate/crowd fund an idea are not interesting in providing loans.

There is a lot of the warm fuzzy feeling but also a lot of the perks because it shows a genuine effort to thank these that help. It doesn’t have to be anything valuable but it could be something like a signed thank you letter in your future letterhead Mr/Ms…. Barrister, an invitation to the call night, a thank you video anything to show initiative and really appeal to the warm feeling you talk about.

All career-based crowd funding are very tricky. I have participated in several of these charitable funding e.g. there was a kid needed money for a prostatic leg and play hockey. I had no connection whatsoever but once I saw an appeal on twitter or I think it was google+ I was curious and I donated. There was no perk either but it was someone in real need. A genuine story of someone less fortunate.

Career funding is tricky because many of us that are relatively successful in our career didn’t often get a free ride or funding. There is also no compelling need to be barrister. It is more of a personal ambition.

All the explanation to foster justice etc. are really far from the reality and taken at face value show a lack of understanding of the profession. So the world is not waiting for another barrister or, what, if it is, there are millions handed out by the inns to fund the BPTC.

You could have a point that funding an LLM or a Master is more difficult than the BPTC but I would say that crowd funding is not much about deserving but by having a compelling, exciting story and raising the interest of potential funders. Like every pitch it has to be persuasive.

(3)(0)

Pantman

I was with you right up to “uneligible“. That typo will cost you dear!

(2)(3)

VTESI

Oh damnit typos!

I personally wouldn’t ever crowd fund i.e. ask people for free money – I would ALWAYS pay them back. I think you should be close to ashamed of yourself to ask people to give away their money, for free, unless you really did survive a real war and have something impressive to show for it and/or something else like that.

Also I guess in my story it’s hard to be persuasive when I was making up an ‘adversity’ story, but the real point was it’s one thing to have a good ‘overcoming adversity’ story, but its’ another to have that story and a CV that doesn’t get close to pupillage. At least my example CV does.

Anyway, should anyone like my story and wish to contribute, just get in touch with the editors lol

(0)(0)

👍

A lot of fools on this page, bet are out of pupillage or TC…and how do they spend their day? Hating on other people that’s how.

Hope none of you are my colleagues one day.

(55)(11)

Anonymous

Lol dude

(1)(0)

Anonymous

“A lot of fools on this page, bet are out of pupillage or TC…and how do they spend their day? Hating on other people that’s how.

Hope none of you are my colleagues one day.”

Welcome, Pamela

(16)(25)

Heinous Heinz

Get off FB Pam, your three kids (at 27, wtf) also might need some crowd funding.

(14)(21)

Pump Court Cannon

I’ve got a pupillage.

Guess who doesn’t have one? You.

(6)(38)

Anonymous

Oh, what a comeback!

(13)(3)

Lady Gagarin

Heh, no one cares son. She’s still a bloodsucker not worthy of the crowd funding.

(3)(13)

Anonymous

50 thumbs up for that post?
Pam, do you secretly have more than 3 children and have instructed them to become keyboard warriors?

(1)(3)

Richard Darnsley Head QC

What has her supposed ‘refugee’ status got to do with price of sliced bread?

She was only 2 when she came to the UK ffs…!

She also clearly chose to be a baby factory in her younger days – a lifestyle choice.

Trying to sponge off the rest of us is pathetic.

(18)(29)

Anonymous

Poor, very poor.

(14)(6)

Anonymous

Go away Pam.

(4)(13)

Heinous Heinz

Hear hear!

(5)(2)

Pipe

If she had to defer her place for a year last year, why is she only starting to think about funding 37 days before her deferred entry starts?

Are you dizzy, luv?

Forethought, commonsense and organisation clearly are not qualities that she possesses.

Good luck at the Bar.

(9)(17)

Crowdfunding shizzle

Careful son, her keyboard warrior troupe will now downvote you to submission. If only those same people chipped in a fiver for your crowdfunding, eh Pam?

(7)(0)

Anonymous

The real question is what will happen to the money she has been given if she doesn’t get her £12k.

I’ll let Primark know she’s coming .

(5)(3)

Really?

“One lecturer specifically discouraged me from thinking about a career as a barrister, saying: ‘You will not see many people that look like you at the bar.’”

Before we all get exercised about this, and seek to stand behind fashionable political correctness gone mad, perhaps what has been quoted as oh so terrible might in fact be factually correct? There, I’ve said it! What she was told is – sadly or otherwise, depending upon your view – an actual fact isn’t it? Any survey I have ever seen has found black women to be a very small minority at the Bar.

So, with that said, and perspective restored, I’m afraid I am with the QC: she has made her life choices, and her struggle to get to where she now is what it is. There are many who have a tale of struggle to tell, albeit with different life choices perhaps.

With her 1st class credentials, there is no reason – is there – why she can’t apply for and qualify for funding from her Inn. She has, after all, obtained £5,000 from the course provider.

Perhaps if she concentrated a little more on Scholarship Application, and similar funding Applications, and her achievements, and a little less on seeking to blame her colour (which has nothing to do with anything) and life choices, she may just succeed.

Even if this crowd funding quest which is selling to donators of £500 more with an invitation to her “graduation” – presumably Call – works, it is going to take a whole lot more than people with more money than sense looking for a cause, for her to succeed at the Bar than that I’m afraid. To refer back to, and quote the QC: “pathetic”, and I concur!

(8)(3)

Anonymous

As a member of a top 30 set of chambers who has been involved in the recruitment of pupils it might help to clear up some misconceptions at least so far as an application to my set is concerned. I make no comment on Ms Okende’s prospects.
1. Pupillage applications are marked according to set criteria.
2. Points are awarded for A level grades – the higher the grade the more points awarded.
3. No points are awarded for Inn scholarships or BPTC Results that doesn’t feature in the relevant criteria. (I have also sat on an Inn scholarship committee and know what that involves.)
4. Points are awarded for class of degree. The higher the class the more points. There is no distinction made between academic institutions.
5. Additional points are available for applicants who have taken an unusual route to the bar which may explain why A level grades are lower or which may explain a lower degree result Having said that I don’t believe we have recruited anyone in the last 10 years who did not have at least a 2:1. Many have firsts.
6. Points are awarded by demonstrating knowledge of the set and commitment to law on the application.
7. Points are awarded for answers to the set legal problem.
8. Successful applicants are then interviewed. There is a set number of interview places offered. From recollection this is about 60. This is then reduced for the second interviews.
We get 600+ applications and about 20-30 members give up time each year to deal with them. We take the process seriously. The future of chambers depends on getting it right.

(8)(4)

Not Amused

“There is no distinction made between academic institutions.”

That’s just inherently foolish. Each university sets its own standards, by ignoring that you invite unethical behaviour – a university who knows its grads will be treated equally is incentivised to lower its standards and over award high level degrees.

People, often people trying to do good, can so easily do wrong. You are inviting the creation of sub-standard universities. That foolishness will cause suffering. Now either you filter out those candidates with paper firsts and a bad education – in which case they suffer by having paid 27k for a useless degree. Or you don’t filter them in which case your chambers suffers and your earnings ultimately plummet.

You really need to think things through.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

There is such a thing as sub-standard universities, don’t try to deny it NA. London Metropolitan, along with the likes of the University of West London or London South Bank University are all institutions that never should have been allowed to offer serious academic degrees, let alone exist and then pawn people out of so much cash.

If there wasn’t so many desperate people out there, all of these institutions would have bitten the dust years ago.

(2)(3)

Harvey

None of the qualifying law degrees is different in the eyes of the regulator. Why should it be for chambers? Oxbridge candidates are extremely boring. They will never have the fire and street smart attitude sported by a London Met graduate. Exams are very similar so the assumption that Oxbridge is better because of some useless and antique tutorials is just wrong. Time to face the reality! equal opportunities at its best.

(3)(8)

Anonymous

Sure. Yup. Spot on.

“fire”

(0)(1)

Yoda

>>>That foolishness will cause suffering

Pain, and suffering I see.

(0)(0)

Anon

All very laudable, but how many of your recent pupils and tenants attended Oxbridge or Bristol, King’s, Durham, etc? It’s funny that these points-based systems still seem to result in the same sort of successful candidates.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

@Anon.

Bang. On.

I’m so sick and tired of these pseudo-righteous pupillage committee folks harking on about how egalitarian their recruitment processes are. Especially when 90% of all their recent tenants are Oxbridge firsts.

The thing is, I DON’T MIND! They want the best. In fact, I think the above poster is an idiot for disregarding the quality of university and scholarship credentials of prospective candidates. These seems like completely sensible and rational things to take into account. I just wish these people would be more honest and say, “Look, we want the best. It’s a highly competitive profession. If you don’t have a top first, probably from Oxbridge, you’re chances are low.” Absolutely fine by me.

Disingenuous arseholes.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

*your

(1)(0)

Tyrion

If you notice, the chambers give points for the A Levels of candidates, so effectively they are screening out people who went to rubbish Universities. They just don’t want to say it publicly because it will be bad press, and also you never know who you would upset. London South bank is an awful University for law, but it is strong in some of the arts/design subjects. Would an IP/Tech chambers want to insult head of engineering design at a FTSE 250 company unnecessarily by being known as snobbish? I don’t think so. Unfortunately what this means is that the LLB grad from South Bank will not be discouraged from looking at the bar or city law and will get in debt in their pursuit of something that is not realistic.

(5)(1)

Not Amused

You are probably right. In which case those people who say things like “There is no distinction made between academic institutions.” are just hurting kids while trying to look pious.

Kids end up encouraged to obtain entirely useless degrees at bad unis when it was obvious that these wouldn’t assist them.

Moreover by failing to properly sort unis at the top end (where everyone has good a levels) you minimise the achievement of individuals are encourage shoddy practice by unis. One top London College brazenly announced in the TES that they would be lowering their first boundary and awarding more firsts – so a kid not bright enough to go to Oxbridge, whose private school polish him up to good a levels now looks disproportionately strong compared to a 2:1 from a first in family to go to Oxbridge – that’s not obviously fair or helpful for diversity.

(8)(0)

Young Black Barrister

Some of you are making snap judgements, without a full perspective. Have you seen her full cv?. We should encourage those who want to better their lives, not knock them down. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
-Henry David Thoreau

(2)(4)

Anonymous

You’re back again Tunde? Thanks for the HD Thoreau quote, made my day a whole lot better.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Her Linkedin makes for rather sparse reading.

Although her CV seems to consist of her lying on her back for the last 5 years and milking her so-called “refugee status”.

Freeloading twoddle.

(5)(9)

Old Purple Barrister

Anyone who chooses to have 3 kids by the age of 27 and yet still at the same time trying to forge a career in an ultra competitive sector needs to have their head examined if they think, like this lass, that they should be especially deserving of our support.

Choices….

(12)(5)

Wilberforce Warrior

Definitely agreed – anyone who had the time and money to pop out three kids by age 27 and yet still wants to make it in a hyper-competitive profession like the Bar, is delusional.

I’m won’t be donating, and looking at her donation board, she’s thankfully not fooling anyone with the ‘refugee heart-string tugging’ pitch.

(7)(6)

Anonymous

Sometimes you can have it all. Like using ‘yet’, ‘still’ and ‘at the same time’ back-to-back in the same sentence.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Actually I have just thought of a brilliant defence to street begging
It’s crowd funding a cuppa and a sarni not begging at all
Next case

(2)(2)

Really?

Old Purple Barrister & Wilbergorce Worrior: noted, and agreed with. However, I think we need to be careful not to stray into the all to bandied about idea that woman must choose between having children, and a “competitive profession”. There are plenty of women who have both, and who are at the Bar.

The ‘refugee heart string tugging’ is pathetic, and she hasn’t even done the BVC yet! With her focus such as it is she has harder times to come: with or without her crowd funding….,

(3)(4)

Young Black Barrister

Never laugh at people’s dreams. To you someone’s dreams might seem as impossible as flying a machine heavier than air seemed to many before the Wright brothers’ initial flight, or breaking the four minute mile seemed before Roger Bannister did it. But those “impossible” dreams did come true.

(6)(3)

Anonymous

Those dreams were at least plausible…

(2)(2)

Naughty Tunde

Ahahahahah, seriously, are you just reading out all the motivation dross Tunde keeps posting on his IG?

Tunde, all those dreams won’t pay for themselves if you keep spamming the LC comments page…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

‘Never laugh at people’s dreams.’
What, not even the one riding a bicycle backwards naked through the school playground with a trifle on your head?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I cannot seriously believe I am reading this negativity from those who call themselves barristers or solicitors. I am a person who was grossly mistreated throughout childhood. Thus rendering unable to gain an education that would see me worthy of a law degree.

Leaving school (residential) with badly graded GCSE’s, and no a’levels but struggled on to better the grades. Pushing through the education system to gain as much as I could to enable the dream.

Would it surprise you all to know I am now doing the the LPC at BPP? Would it disgust you that someone who grew up in state care made it? Would you reject my application for a TC based on my educational history?

I believed that people entered law because they wanted to make a difference, help those in need and seek justice where there is none!!

Good luck Pamala

(2)(0)

Heinous Heinz

Yup, ‘Pamala’ alright. Learn how to spell first pinhead.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The “Haters gonna hate” phrase is feeling right at home in this bitterness infested comment section.

(6)(2)

Marjorie

Dear Legal Cheek

You really have to do something to stop the amount of dross which is posted on your website – posts are too long & frequently contain comments which no reputable publication would print. Apart from trying to stop the so-called ‘lawyers’ who post them demeaning themselves, they make the website look like a joke.

Please do something about it – frankly I’m not clear that anyone who posts on here has any sort of practice & has an opinion which is worth a candle.

(3)(5)

harvey

“..which no reputable publication would print” Just a hint my dear legal…cheek

(0)(1)

Marjorie

No clue what that means I’m afraid. Time for you to get a job……or at least a life.

(1)(2)

Bazza McBallsack

And I take it you’re in the best position to judge who is qualified to post their opinions on a legal blog and who is not? What have the comments to do with the reputation of the publication?

Thanks for sharing with us dear Marjorie, now sod off please.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

‘anyone who posts on here has any sort of practice & has an opinion which is worth a candle.’
Er, you just posted on here (!)

(1)(0)

marjorie

Driven to desperation.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Eh, eh … Your posting again Madg – please get a life.
LOL

(0)(0)

Anon

Ah – the eloquence of the seasoned practitioner Mr McBallsack.

(0)(0)

Mr B. Ballsack MBA LLM JD Esq.

The finest practitioner there is.

(0)(0)

Anon

MA Cantab LLM Esq. Didn’t buy a degree. 20 years in the City.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Wait ! Miss please do some research ignorance is surely bliss. The BPTC IS WHER PEOPLE GO TO HAVE THEIR DREAMS KILLED. But dream big. If you like law and want to do some good do a arbitration course.

(0)(0)

City Lawyah

Hahahahah, three days to go for Pamela’s crowdfunding and the dosh somehow didn’t roll in. Serves her right.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.