Packing chicken to flying helicopters — barristers share their unconventional routes into law

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Barristers have taken to Twitter to reveal their unique and inspirational routes into the profession.

Launched by the Bar Council, the #IAmTheBar social mobility campaign aims to inspire the next generation of wannabe barristers by highlighting some of the non-traditional journeys to the bar. While sharing the stories of some its own social mobility advocates, the Bar Council also encouraged members of the legal Twitterati to get involved.

The path to success isn’t always smooth, with some barristers facing several obstacles before eventually finding their place at the bar. Something Lamb Building family specialist Mavis Amonoo-Acquah knows all too well:

Also sharing their unique journeys were Ropewalk Chambers’ Jan Alam, Jodie Anderson of Garden Court Chambers and Phillips’ barrister David Hughes.

In a particularly unusual pathway to the profession, Michael Dougherty explained how he went from school expulsion to packing frozen chickens in a factory, before heading to law school and landing a pupillage at Farrar’s Building.

Criminal barrister Helen Easterbrook also shared her extraordinary route, which involved running “away to sea” at just 18.

There were several tweets from those who decided to switch careers and take to the bar later in life:

The initiative has been welcomed across the profession which has battled issues with diversity and inclusion. Angela Patrick, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, said it was great to see the Bar Council talking openly about diversity and commended it for highlight that not all barristers resemble Rumpole.

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“Now 44 with daughter also graduating in Law in 2 weeks time“

Keeping it in the family!



Lol these barristers are mostly at the publicly funded bar.

What about at the real bar?






Presume you are the ‘real bar’ big shot? …commenting on legal cheek at 11am.



Indeed. From the comfort of my chambers in Temple. Not Swindon magistrates’ court..



Stay humble.




A friend of mine has just retied. Her route to the Bar was by way of a history of theatre stage management, and octopus fishing on the fleet from Halkidiki, sharing a small boat for a week at a time with middle aged Greek fishermen who spoke no English.






That’s nothing my route was:
Be a homeless drunk – fail GCSEs – claim benefits pretending I was a family of 3 for 10 years – network with uncle in the House of Lords – become judge.



It’s not what you know it’s who you know, and I have it on good authority that lady hale ahem ‘knows’ certain members of the royal family very intimately indeed



Give it a rest, Withnail!


judge hobosexual

shut up i could sentence you to 3 1/12 months of walking my obese dog every day for the crime of insulting my majestic person



I was a wild tiger rescued from deforestation in India and put in a zoo, primarily to prevent the extinction of my species.

As part of a teach tigers law initiative , I was lucky enough to sit an ‘LL.B at Warwick University.

I struggled with English and with the dissection of mens rea in criminal law but was very proud of my 2.2 result. I could not have achieved that without a reader.

Bvtc in London.

I am now a pupil barrister hoping to specialise in Election law where, wait for it, I SHALL BE A PAPER TIGER !!

Stick with it. Give a wild tiger a 2.2 , the bvtc certificate and a pupillage and he can hold the job down, with all the training you get. The same is true of any human being, in my opinion.

I was lucky that my pupilmaster spotted my potential to become a paper tiger.

It was my last interview, which was dramatic. I almost had to become a paralegal. A lot of humans with 2.2s from university end up doing that if they don’t get on a lucky initiative like I did !



Ur not funny bro



It is funny, you know. It is biting satire, that might be why you don’t like it.

Also, you may be pretending not to like it. (That goes on)



Did you face any discrimination for being a tiger by any chambers? Also did you get into trouble for mauling human law students at university? It must have been tough, bravo for getting to where you are now. You really do have the ‘eye of the tiger’ like Katy Perry says.



Terrible banter.



I am quite old for being a pupil. I know that tigers do not have halos per se. Some tigers themselves were involved in tiger enslavery, poaching and sales. There’s often a money or religious element underpinning discriminatory behaviour, isn’t there ? Or a residue of this.

Many humans who discriminated against tigers in the past did so because they were impoverished, I realise that. Some did it to gain religious artefacts. Some were rich roughouses, bored out of their minds, granted. It is the corporations who threaten my species now…the need for economic return from deforestation is paramount. This is beyond discrimination, as you know.

I didn’t look for discrimination at bar school and tigers cannot swing a constituency with a block vote, so no one was looking for discrimination for me.

No one at bar school was bored out of their mind either. They were all young try hards with their futures in front of them doing their best to survive.

As for mauling…I kept my head down.

I was lucky in respect of bullying…I was wild for years and am still athletically built so anyone whose nerves I got under didn’t chance it with me.

I am expecting to get bullied professionally though, when I help people with election issues in court.

I am hoping we switch back to a monarchy soon, I think tigers will do better under a king than we are doing under corporations and mainstream politicians.

Thanks for asking x



Disgraceful banter


Chicken Packer




I get it now…the view or theory that it is only the self which exists. Lol

But shouldn’t it be solipsism?


Chicken Packer

My spelling erros prove why I am not fit to practice



You got a lot of up votes too !



Yes. It should be called #me me me



How does being excluded or expelled from school work as being a benefit for a would be barrister?



Extensive first hand experience of the disciplinary process



Shows you can learn from your mistakes and keep going despite them. Pretty useful at the Bar.



Oh grow up. That you Dougherty?



Treat yourselves to googling Michael Dougherty at Farrers Buildings. The same background data is played to different audiences by the Farrer website and by this #me me me initiative.

E.g he was a sales and marketing director who was steered to the Bar by instructing counsel on a number of occasions…did we think he moved from telesales to selling Kirby vacuum cleaners, after his chicken factory ? Oh no. Not according to Farrer.



Sounds like a turd amongst turds


Demos Craticus

We have these bourgeois almost if not entirely, narcissistic lot with their ‘plastic 1st class and plastic 2.1 degrees’ from their university’s ‘glass ceiling’ academic assessment, deriding others who are not so fortunate to go to university. These middle class lot boast of their hard work – the rhetoric. However these universities managed to negotiate their 1st class and 2.1 degrees to be relatively highly valued.

The law degrees are not like for like, but who cares as long as there is Weber’s ‘capitalist spirit’ and Ritzer, G’s ‘McDonaldisation’ of society. Tell me I am wrong but if you must do so based on evidence. Because they’re not like for like in terms of balance of assignments versus examination weighting, which results in rather subjective degree classifications, the universities offer ‘plastic 1st class and 2.1 degrees. It doesn’t make a difference, the rhetoric the universities used to the Quality Assurance Agency, and to the Parliament committees to increase the tuition fee loans from £3000 – £9,000 just blinds middle class people. They essentially sold their products well and Oxbridge and the Russell Group are no exception.

I suggest you elitist lot therefore hush and just accept that you were at best lucky, or were privileged enough to benefit. You’re not special, you’re not any more intelligent than any other law graduates, you just adhere to the system which happenstance benefitted you.

I really have a difficult time understand barristers’ minds especially the privileged lot. I thought law with its academic rigour would have long driven out such childhood propensities. The middle class (including upper middle class and upper class social groups) have exploited the system to benefit them. Is life so grandiose at the top that they have to look down on those, who were likely screwed in some way to get to the pinnacle of their (greasy pole) careers. Said social class have the best of everything yet they still bitch and act like petulant school children. Don’t you ever grow up, one day you’ll just be a corpse (literally) to match your current corpse (zombie) nature. I just don’t understand, there are people in food queues with not enough money to feed their children.

Yet, it’s like I am communicating to or with children who have I-phone toys.

It is almost as they’re iPhone jockeys with an inability to use their brain filter.



U ok hun?


Demos Craticus

Oh yes I am fine. I just find it enjoyable to challenge the dominant social class societies. It is like a plastic population with plastic degrees and plastic Phds.

They boast of the 1st class and 2.1s which has served them individually and the capitalist efficiency of the country. In reality, said degrees are just smoke and mirrors. My education is in law (LLB) and psychology and sociology (Bsc).



Lol you funny


Judge hobosexual

I think I may have found a kindred spirit!
Meet me behind the rubbish bin where I dumpster dive so I can reveal myself more fully!



Can I come?



Personally I don’t have a problem with Johnny Jumped-up joining the profession.

But he should take his hazing in good sport now that he has his foot in the door



Said my first word at one. Kicked off the stabilisers at four. United mad by 7. Bored at 11. Left school at 16. 18, worked nights in the castle pulling pints. Then I stopped pulling pints and started pushing myself. Finding obscure words in the dictionary. Buying a wheelie case to fill with books. Learning to speak with no accent. Sure, I was born in Carlisle, but I was made in the Bar.



You’ve just won Legal Cheek




absolute winner


Christopher Hitchens

I was devastated when I had to travel to Greece , I think it was, to survey the scene of double suicide of my mother and her lover , and identify her body. I was only 22 or so.

I was doubly distraught knowing that when she had tried to ring me on the fateful night, she may have been in the middle of regreting it. There was only land lines then, and I was out.

I stuck with journalism and broadcasting unaware that fate was dealing me those narrow circumstances which may have got me a foot in the door as pupillage.

My younger brother did not attend the macabre scene, but he would have made a good barrister. I wonder whether we would have made more of a difference in the law…

Oh well.



The quality of the comments on this article is really quite poor



Is that you, Dougherty?


40 something marketing exec

Ask not what you can do for the bar but what the bar can do for your ego following your mid life crisis


There Goes The Neighbourhood

It’s the unseemliness of taking such pride in the fact you once fucked chickens that lowers the tone.

This debases the conversation in a similar way to the trump effect on US political discourse


Alex aldridge

I fuck chickens every day





Corbyn. Sympathiser

So many arseholes in one place…



Wouldn’t it just be simpler if the Bar Council just put up the Monty Python sketch about the Northern millionaires reminiscing about ‘ow ‘ard they ‘ad it as lads?



It is a shame this Monty Python comment is late to the party…the idea of the Bar Council doing That, combined with my memory of the sketch itself….super.

You could update it.

Well I worked in a chicken packers.

That’s Nothing, there was some sort of murder in my family and yet I sat my final uni exams within 6 months.

6 months after one homicide? I signed up for law at Warwick within one month of a whole ecosystem being destroyed in India, and I wasn’t even a human being !


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