#MyRoutetotheBar: Tweeting barristers share their unconventional career paths

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By Adam Mawardi on

Features advice from a former window cleaner, lifeguard and nightclub DJ

Barristers have taken to Twitter to reveal their unconventional paths to practice.

Using the hashtag ‘#MyRouteToTheBar’, tweeting barristers offered a brief timeline of their careers — starting from secondary school and ending at tenancy. Evidence of alternative and unconventional routes to qualification, including career changes to law, will undoubtedly offer aspiring barristers comfort considering the competition for pupillage is fiercer than ever.

The Twitter trend was apparently started by CrimeGirl, an anonymous criminal barrister, who revealed she began her career as a receptionist, then subsequently became a legal secretary, a paralegal, and a mature law student, before going on to complete a training contract and, after transferring to the bar, securing tenancy.

Inspired by CrimeGirl’s tweet, other barristers opened up about their unusual career paths. Another anonymous criminal barrister, CrimBarrister, revealed they were a part-time club DJ, occasional venue booker, a rock journalist and a tabloid newspaper sub-editor before joining the bar.

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Meanwhile, Sarah Wait, explained she became a personal injury barrister at Manchester-based 18 St John Street Chambers despite having “average” GCSEs and no A-Levels.

Another barrister said she left state school with “good” GCSEs but “terrible” A-Levels, and without a degree went on to work in a bakery, in pubs and clubs as a barmaid, and in a call centre before starting legal training in her mid-30s.

OGPupil — who in their Twitter bio describes themselves as “basically, the Slumdog Millionaire of Pupillage” — revealed that after helping out in their family’s shop and caring for their father and grandparents, they were the first generation to go to university and got a paralegal job before securing tenancy.

The Secret Barrister, secretive as ever, responded to the trend saying they attended a “secret comprehensive school”, a “secret non-Oxbridge uni” and even flipped burgers for a living.

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