Lewis Dean raises over ten grand towards bar course
A future pupil barrister who set up a fundraiser asking the public to help pay his bar school fees has been “overwhelmed” by its success after donations toppled over £10,000.
Lewis Dean, a final year law student at Exeter University, began the GoFundMe page after receiving a family law pupillage offer from Magdalen Chambers, a mixed set in the South West, and not having the means to fund his bar training course nor being successful in any scholarship applications.
Since it was set up in April 2023, Dean has raised £11,376 of his £16,000 target, and has even caught the attention of anonymous bar blogger The Secret Barrister as well as top KCs.
“I am humbled,” Dean told Legal Cheek. “It’s strange to put your story out there in the hope that people find it inspiring and donate to your cause. I’ve received over 300 donations which is truly overwhelming.”
He said that he personally thanks all his donors as part of his bedtime routine, leaving them a little note expressing his gratitude.
On his page, Dean recounts his journey to get to this point hasn’t been “plain sailing”. He grew up in a council house and was state-educated, leaving school with only “a handful of GCSEs”. His mother died after a short battle with cancer when he was 17, and unable to continue living with his step-father, he moved into accommodation, provided by the local authority, with his younger brother.
He started working and became a nanny in 2012, saving to pay through his A-Levels, which he completed part-time. With the help of savings, work and student finance, he started his law degree in 2020 at the age of 30.
The next step on the budding barrister’s journey is to complete the bar training course, which he has decided to do at BPP University in Bristol. It costs £14,800, and he speaks of his frustration there is currently no government-funded financial support to cover the cost, without adding a master’s on top. Plus he has to factor in living costs and additional expenditure on bar qualifying sessions, for example, even though he plans to continue working whilst studying.
“The journey for aspiring barristers is incredibly competitive and challenging, especially for those from low-income backgrounds,” said Dean, who told us he has written to the Bar Standards Board on the matter.
For now, Dean is “nervous but excited” about starting the bar course in September before embarking on pupillage. His areas of interest include domestic violence and divorce, having seen the “whole make-up of a family” in his work as a nanny. “I hope to use the experiences I have gained over the years to help children and families in the South West,” he said.
You can donate to Dean’s cause here.