The University of Law (Bar Practice Course)
The Legal Cheek View
By introducing an assessment day for entry onto its BPC in 2015, ULaw upped the standard of its students to the extent that more than half of those who complete the full-time course now receive an offer 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 about 400 pupillages each year — these numbers are strong.
ULaw London ― Bloomsbury and Moorgate campuses
The atmosphere on the Bloomsbury Bar course, which is ULaw’s largest BPC, is very much set by that assessment day sift. If you get in, you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with serious candidates whose decent track records have already landed them Inns of Court scholarships. The presence of a decent proportion of high achievers in class means tutors can pitch their instructions at a high level. One recent Bloomsbury BPC graduate reports: “Excellent tutors who gave brutal feedback that meant each time I was better than the last.”
As it has focused on getting those pupillage numbers up, ULaw has poured considerable resources into its Bar careers service, which is described by one student as “genuinely excellent”. The specialist Bar careers consultant, Anna Williams, even received a number of name checks in the Legal Cheek BPC survey as one of the best aspects of ULaw Bloomsbury. Further, the pro bono opportunities come highly recommended. Alongside collaborations with the likes of the Free Representation Unit, the “well-resourced” clinic offers a number of opportunities to get involved in quirkier projects like teaching debating in prisons.
The downsides to studying the BPC in ULaw’s Bloomsbury campus is the price, sitting at £15,650 for the full-time course, as well as the additional cost of studying in the Capital. Moreover, the building is not as fancy as ULaw’s swish Moorgate campus for LPC students on the other side of town. But thumbs ups are given to the BPC-only library, which is “a good study space”, even if it is “absolutely freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer”.
Birmingham and Bristol
Outside of London, the costs are marginally lower, with full-time fees coming in at £14,200. Birmingham and Bristol are attractive choices for BPC students, as they are lively cities with large student populations. Chambers such as No5, St Philips and St Ives, can be found on Birmingham’s doorstep.
Located in the building that used to house City law firm RPC, ULaw Bristol is a modern campus with excellent facilities. It sits among the cluster of leading law firms based near Temple Meads station and is within walking distance of leading Bristol chambers St John’s, Albion and Guildhall – so barrister hopefuls can sneak a peek at what’s to come.
Both campuses have an excellent level of advocacy training too, students tell us. You get “more hours of advocacy than any other provider”, reports one. BPCers 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”.
Still, the careers service, in Birmingham in particular, can be mixed. On one hand, it could be better resourced: “They had [only] one careers adviser for undergrads, LLM, LPC and BPC students,” one recent graduate tells us. On the other, there are plenty of careers events to attend, including the popular ‘Day in the Life of a Barrister’ session in which a series of barristers and a judge from different practising backgrounds give talks and then answer students’ questions.
Leeds, Manchester & Nottingham
Other cities with a strong student population and legal scene include Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham, all of which are home to ULaw campuses. Our BPC spies tell us there are “excellent tutors” at ULaw Leeds. Note, however, that there are currently only two of them — one is responsible for civil, the other for criminal subjects. Professional ethics is taught by both. Therefore, the student cohort is very small, and group workshops have no more than 12 students each. Having said this, students benefit from ULaw’s wider Leeds facilities, sharing a seven-storey glass-fronted building with GDLers and LPCers. It features a rooftop terrace, which looks out on a stretch of the city skyline.
Located just off Piccadilly Gardens slap bang in the middle of central Manchester, ULaw Manchester is a well-appointed campus split over several floors. It’s within close reach of the city’s Spinningfields district, home to many of Manchester’s leading law firms.
As one of ULaw’s newest campuses, ULaw Nottingham is based in Eversheds Sutherland’s former Nottingham office. It’s suitably high spec, with added ‘tech hub’ facilities that even include a retro gaming arcade. The campus is close to the centre of Nottingham, within easy access of the city’s leading chambers and firms.