ULaw Birmingham is based in a burgeoning metropolis which is cheaper than London and has a number of decent chambers, such as No5, St Philips and St Ives, on its doorstep. It also has very good advocacy training, students tell us.
You get “more hours of advocacy than any other provider”, reports one. BPTCers make use of the “good opportunities for moots”, which hone their advocacy skills. They tell us you also get to “judge the undergrad moots, which is always amusing”. This comes at slightly cheaper, but still far from cheap, rates than ULaw’s Bloomsbury centre in the capital (the Birmingham campus charges £13,950). Note the scholarships which are available (see below).
It’s worth noting that by introducing an assessment day for entry onto its BPTC in 2015, ULaw has upped the standard of its students to the extent that over half of full-timers are completing the course with offers of pupillage. That might not sound huge to the uninitiated, but in the cut throat world of barrister training – where approximately 1,500 bar graduates battle for around 400 pupillages each year – these are good numbers.
Still, the careers service in Birmingham can be mixed. On one hand, it could be better resourced: “They had [only] one careers adviser for undergrads, LLM, LPC and BPTC students,” one recent graduate tells us. On the other, there are plenty of careers events to attend. One of the most popular is the ‘Day in the Life of a Barrister’ session in which a series of barristers and a judge from different practicing backgrounds give talks and then answer students’ questions. The big draw is that BPTCers get the chance to meet members of the bar and try to make themselves memorable, especially at the drinks reception that follows.
Expect regional court visits including to the Magistrates’ Courts and Crown Court. Then there are mock trials and mooting competitions where BPTCers can really test their newly-acquired advocacy skills. Final rounds are judged by practicing barristers and judges. Be sure to sign up to take part in the National Negotiation Competition for which ULaw picks a team from its BPTC students.
But it’s not all work and competitions. As one BPTCer puts it: “classes finished at 1:30pm and there is a pub directly across the road”. After a long day of pseudo-barrister life, there’s time for an afternoon drink or three.