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Crowdfunding wannabe barrister pledges free careers advice in return for donations

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Mohamed Hussein Iman needs £15k to start GDL

Mohamed Hussein Iman

An aspiring barrister seeking to raise almost £15,000 to cover the cost of the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is offering free tuition and careers advice in return for donations.

In a bid to get the public to part with their cash, University of Oxford history grad Mohamed Hussein Iman has pledged to donate one hour of his time to students from under-represented or disadvantaged backgrounds for every £15 donated to his cause.

Croydon-born Iman — who was raised by his mother, a Somali Muslim immigrant who arrived in the UK unable to speak English — says the 60-minute sessions can cover everything from A-Level advice through to pointers on university applications.

The 23-year-old’s pledge comes after he received an offer to study the GDL at City University Law School and now needs to raise £14,900 to cover his tuition fees and living costs. He has so far raised just over £7,000.

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“Unfortunately the bar has severe access issues,” Iman writes on his crowdfunding page. “Financially, for non-law undergraduates such as myself, the GDL is expensive, with student finance unavailable for the course I have chosen to pursue.”

Iman, who intends to work throughout his studies, says he remains undeterred from a career at the bar despite exhausting scholarship options and resorting to crowdfunding to raise the cash.

“I’d like to be a barrister rather than a solicitor because of the advocacy potential,” Iman told Legal Cheek. “I would like to directly represent clients and be vocal about their causes, and a career at the bar lets me do this.”

He continued: “I would also like to practise human rights law but since I haven’t started my GDL, I am not sure what area I’d most enjoy, be interested in or be good at.”

The bar hopeful has already received backing from barrister turned daytime TV celeb Judge Rinder, who last month shared Iman’s fundraising page along with the tweet: “If we are serious and — honestly — care about social mobility we need to help Mo.”

This isn’t the first time a student has turned to crowdfunding in a bid to fulfil their dream of becoming a barrister. Legal Cheek reported earlier this summer that Dylan Kawende had successfuly raised £65,000 to cover the costs of studying law at the University of Cambridge.

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22 Comments

Realistic student

I thought that chambers pay for the GDL if you obtain pupillage, like firms do with TCs? Is this not an option? I would never have considered self-funding the GDL or LPC.

(21)(11)

Lucy

You need the GDL then the BPC after to even apply for pupilage.

(1)(25)

Bob

No you don’t. You can apply for pupillage during your GDL year.

(21)(1)

Lucy

Oh shit….

(7)(0)

Isabel (Legally Human)

Not everyone can get a chamber to cover those costs…

(3)(1)

All Alone

Just one chamber?

(2)(0)

MCT

Yes, but that requires you to obtain pupillage first, just as you need to get a TC for a firm to pay for the GDL. Otherwise, in both routes, you have to self-fund.

(1)(0)

Hannah

Are loans with high street banks no longer available for the GDL? When I did the GDL I took out a loan with Nat West and paid it back over 5 years.

(33)(2)

Bob

Yes. Future Finance is affiliated with the SLC and offers loans to cover all the post-undergrad law courses, including the GDL.

I funded the GDL and Bar course with a loan (and a small Inn scholarship) and paid the loans back within 4/5 years of completing pupillage.

I came from a state school background with little financial help from parents. Like everyone else I got the loan.

Crowdfunding your fees is not actually about access to the bar, it is about shunting the risk of not getting pupillage (and therefore having to pay back the loan to train to be a barrister whilst not actually being a barrister) from yourself to donors. Still nice if you can get it!

(88)(0)

Bob again

Sorry my error – Future Finance is not linked to the SLC. Just a lender

(8)(0)

Bumblebee

This post hits the nail on the head. Regardless of the relentless message being propagated by the media and BSB, there are no insurmountable barriers for BAME candidates wishing to pursue a career at the Bar.

Equally, however, there is one major barrier which affects candidates of all colours and stripes – namely, risk. That barrier disproportionately affects poor candidates (who, in turn, might well be disproportionately BAME).

(40)(15)

Anonymous

“Let’s pretend that the lack of BAME QCs and judges, and the fact BAME people can’t seem to progress at the Bar as White barristers do, doesn’t exist.

That fact makes me feel uncomfortable, so it’s easier just to say that BAME people are only imagining racism. How silly of them!

Let’s also pretend that every single time BAME barristers and pupils have talked about racist experiences at the Bar from other barristers or clients, for decades, and set up support groups, there have been absolutely no racist incidents ever.

Again, when they speak of experiencing racism, that makes me feel uncomfortable, so let’s pretend they all are just making it up?

Please also ignore the fact my chambers has only one BAME person. No, we aren’t a ‘White Ghetto’, we just only have one BAME person. We do commercial work you see?

Why can’t BAME barristers just stick with their own and do they work we’d never touch?”

Rubyshoes

GDL scholarships and loans available.

(27)(0)

BAME Person

As a BAME person with a similar background and Oxbridge degree like Iman, I have a lot of sympathy for his position and respect his work-ethic to get this far.

But the fact remains that there are several London chambers with only 1 or 2 BAME tenants. More than once, I was the only BAME person being invited for a pupillage interview.

When I secured a GDL scholarship, once again I was one of only two BAME people from my Inn who received one, according to the lists published in ‘The Times‘. I met plenty of Oxbridge-educated and accomplished BAME people on both my GDL and BPTC courses who had far fewer interview invitations than their White friends with similar academics.

How many Somalis currently practice at the Bar? To me, the Bar badly needs to address its embarrassing problems with diversity and access.

(36)(43)

Anon and on

Gawd, not this old chestnut again. Even in Counsel magazine, which agonises on these matters above all others, has to admit in an article this month that BAME barristers are 13.6% of the Bar, against a BAME general working population of 14.4%. There is an attempt to generate some indignation from the fact that black barristers are only 3.2% against 3.7% of the wider population, but I doubt many are going to go the barricades over a rounding error.

If you measure the 13.6% BAME barristers against the more meaningful benchmark of working age population with a first or upper second class degree from a Russell Group University, then there is likely to be an over-representation. That may leave questions to be asked about why BAME pre-Bar qualification attainment levels are lower, but this is not something the Bar should be beating itself up over – one small profession cannot solve all of society’s problems.

The only embarrassment the Bar needs to feel is over its obsession with this issue.

(57)(14)

Angus McGammonshire QCC

“Let’s just all ignore the lack of BAME QCs and judges. Please?

Also, let’s all forget entirely about the decades of racist incidents that BAME barristers keep on reporting. I’m feeling really uncomfortable?

How very dare BAME ever complain about poor treatment! We freed them from slavery and deign to share oxygen with them! Why can’t they shut up?”

(10)(6)

JuniorBaz

You can apply for pupillage prior to the GDL or BPTC but the reality is, unless you are an academically exceptional candidate, and/or with insane networking and connections, you will not get through.

This is because unlike corporate law firms hiring hundreds of trainees and paying for their legal study fees in advance – the Bar is far “smaller” and recruits far less. 1-2 pupils a year, for example.

Therefore, the competition is even more intense. Unlike many other careers, the Bar fully values mature candidates, or candidates who have gone through the rounds and gained more “life experience” – and those candidates often bank on that extra wow factor experience to bolster pre-existing stellar academics or, in many respects, to compensate for not so stellar academics.

In my experience, unless you are at the extremely top end of your academic year, it is virtually impossible to secure pupillage that early and therefore gain the scholarship. Many chambers, unless the top end commercial and chancery sets, simply will not be able to afford the training costs either.

(15)(2)

Belinda

He has nice hair.

(5)(5)

Lord Bond

I too have a similar background to Iman, however it never occurred to me that strangers should pay for my education through a Crowdfunding campaign. Whilst I did have an Inn BPTC Scholarship ( successful second time round) which covered 2/3 of my course fees, I had to cover the remaining 1/3 and living costs – this was Circa £11k. Did I start a fundraising campaign ? No; I deferred my Inns Scholarship for two years, applied for pupillage (Invited to 4 first round interview Pre-BPTC) and worked as a paralegal. This allowed me to cover the shortfall and brutally evaluate my chances of obtaining pupillage – a cost/benefit analysis if you will. Education is a privilege and not a right.

If I was in Iman’s position, I would take the year out and apply for an Inn’s Scholarship in the next application round. This route worked for me and gave me a lot to talk about in interviews this year. All the best!

(22)(3)

What

Too many people funding these courses themselves when the competition is high and risk severe, if you can’t get an Inns scholarship or firm to pay (if you want a TC) reality is you really ought to be thinking twice about the whole thing, not asking strangers to find your degree. Thoroughly bizarre.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

Surely funding is best used to help the deserving who face disadvantages, not someone with the privilege of an Oxford degree who wants their somewhat extravagant first degree choices funded.

(15)(1)

Jake the Junior

I’m enjoying the genuine insanity of this comments section but enough is enough, lets be real for a second.

– Can he get a chamber to fund him?
Unless he’s somehow managed to self teach himself law to degree standard, no almost certainly not

– Was it wrong of him to go Oxford to do a non-law degree?
No of course not, who knows when he decided to go for the bar. His degree is also probably more prestigious and useful than most of the people in this comments section, myself included. History at Oxford is not an easy degree and considering many of them go on to do law and find it quite easy, I would say the law is an easier vocational course. Amusing how we’ve forgotten that.

– Should he take a commercial loan?
Considering the monthly interest payments alone appear to be quite high, we can’t say for certain. His admittance of being a bursary student shows he clearly has a lack of funds so I’m leaning towards a no, that being said we can’t say for certain.

– Is he asking for strangers to pay for his degree?
Yes and no. It appears like he’s asking to be paid to tutor disadvantaged kids. At £15 an hour, he’s probably undersold himself since £50 an hour for university admissions is what I used to charge. Sounds quite enterprising

– Are people in this comments section a bit high and mighty about this issue?
Absolutely, the explanation is left as an exercise for the reader.

I wish him well at the bar, hopefully the gammon in this chat strengthens his resolve

(5)(0)

Comments are closed.

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