David Lowe, Blackstone Chambers
L2B Guide to a Career in Law 2009-2010
I decided to train as a barrister for probably all the usual reasons - the independence, the challenge, the buzz you get from advocacy, the fact I’m perhaps a little too argumentative for my own good…
Name: David Lowe
Chambers: Blackstone Chambers
Degree: BA and BCL in Law
Where did you study the GDL and/or the BVC? BVC at BPP
Hobbies: Watching sport (especially football and cricket) and playing when I get the chance, reading, travel, bit of Pro Evo
Why did you decide to train as a barrister?
Probably all the usual reasons - the independence, the challenge, the buzz you get from advocacy, the fact I’m perhaps a little too argumentative for my own good…
Why did you choose commercial law?
I really enjoyed the more commercial subjects at university such as contract law and restitution. In practice I like the breadth - commercial law covers an enormous range of business sectors and human relationships, and I like the fact that the resolution of fiendishly complicated factual problems can often boil down to the proper application of a few simple and elegant legal principles. Plus there’s often plenty of scope for an interesting argument on (a) what a proper application involves and (b) what those legal principles are.
What has been the highlight of your pupillage so far?
I’ll give you two: going to Luxembourg to see a case in the European Court of Justice, and watching a slippery witness get caught out after two days in the box during the course of a six-day trial (maybe you had to be there).
What does your typical day involve?
Working hours during pupillage have been very civilised - normally something like 8.30am-6.30pm. I’d say I’ve been in court about 10 per cent of the time. As for the rest of my hours, I’ll often be found writing opinions, drafting pleadings or preparing skeleton arguments on a fantastically varied range of subject matters. There’ll often be a conference to attend or an advocacy exercise or piece of research to do that’ll take me away from the desk and break the day up a little.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Crafting an argument - making the best case you can from the materials you’ve got, legally and factually - is something I really enjoy. Just as well really.
What are the worst aspects of your job?
There can be a lot of pressure. And while you’ve got to be able to work well under that, it doesn’t mean it’s always fun at the time.
What’s the biggest misconception of the legal profession?
Although there are moments of compelling courtroom drama, that’s not everyday life. Be prepared to have putting in the hours, scouring scores of files, agonising over difficult questions and hammering out paperwork under pressure as more of your staple diet.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
Get as much work experience as you can and talk to a wide range of people – most lawyers don’t need much persuasion to start handing out advice.
What are the biggest pitfalls students should try to avoid when pursuing a legal career?
Start making plans and gathering experience a good time in advance if you can. Deadlines are often early and the competition is fierce, so any edge you can get may prove vital.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a pupillage?
It’s a huge commitment in terms of the time you need to dedicate at the application stage. If you’re fortunate enough to be offered a few interviews you could find yourself very busy - especially with so many places requiring you to write an opinion or do a mini-pupillage. With exams going on at the same time, it can be hard to juggle everything. You have been warned.
What are the common attributes of successful candidates?
Dedication. A love of learning. Flexible and teachable. GSOH. Someone people will want to work with. Not quite sure how I slipped through.