Christopher Braganza is just coming up to the end of his first year of training at Allen & Overy and took the Common Professional Examination (CPE) route, after doing a classics degree at Cambridge. He admits that going into law has not been his lifelong ambition.
"Law was always a possibility, but I could have chosen any one of a number of careers. For example, I did a lot of singing, so I could have gone on to do that," he says. He was not alone: one of his fellow students at the CPE course had been with a rock band for the previous four or five years before deciding to abandon aspirations for the limelight and sign up to do law.
Following the advice of his sister, who is a lawyer, and friends who knew about the profession, Braganza says: "It's a good career in itself, but it can also act as a springboard to various other things."
He adds: "I found it a great year," explaining that strong bonds were formed within the group and all members were aiming for the same goals, which carried through to the Legal Practice Course. "When you go to university, you make that decision of where you're going to go and what you're going to do when you're about 16 or 17," he says. "When you're 22 or 23 you see life a bit differently, and there's a bit more behind your decisions then."
Braganza says that the CPE and LPC were very different years. The former is more academic in its approach, so the workload is open-ended – so if you are willing to put in the extra effort it is quite easy to do well. The LPC involves finite amounts of work, which can make it difficult to shine brighter than your peers.
The only way in which Braganza believes he was disadvantaged in not doing a law degree is that he did not have as wide a knowledge of black letter law as some of his contemporaries on the LPC course. However, he believes this was offset by the inability of some law graduates to see the whole business picture because they were too concerned about the fine points of law.