Since launching in the city in 2014, BPP’s Manchester Bar Course has forged a decent reputation – and despite charging more than the rival provider across town it is attracting students.
The appeal, say recent graduates, is the teaching. Multiple sources described the advocacy training and wider instruction as “excellent” or “very good”. One went so far as to say “perfect”, while another described star tutor Peter Wolfenden – around whom a mild personality cult seems to have formed – as “a God amongst men”.
Like many of his fellow tutors, Wolfenden is a practising barrister (at common law set Oriel Chambers). This means links with the profession are strong. Indeed, some Manchester BPP BTCers reckon that the academic staff are “a far greater resource” than the official careers service (who are more used to “dealing with LPC students”) when it comes to securing pupillage.
The course itself is highly geared to practice, with a slant towards the personal injury work that is such a theme at the Manchester bar. This may be something to consider if you don’t want to practice in the North West. A few students we heard from commented on this, noting the “PI nature of the course and “limited understanding of non-Manchester based chambers”. But for those aiming for a foot in the door at a chambers in the North West, BPP is undoubtedly a good launchpad – and reports reach us of a decent employability rate. “All but most hopeless candidates from my year are now in pupillage which is unusual,” a recent graduate tells us.
The law school itself is well-located, just a few minutes walk away from Manchester’s Spinningfields business district. It’s perfectly well-appointed, but while the Grade II listed building may be stylish it sometimes shows its age. It’s “far too cold”, one recent graduate complains, while the library “sadly felt very reminiscent of my dingy sixth form library”, another hard-to-please student groans. However, a separate room for BTC students “away from the riffraff” in the wider law school library is appreciated. As are the “mostly effective” course books and online resources also elicit minor grumbles.
As young barristers know, the BTC is a busy year that’s different to the undergraduate experience, so don’t expect too much social life. At BPP Manchester it ranges from “non-existent” to “fine”. Walk away at the end of the year with a pupillage and you won’t be complaining.