The bar is often seen as a pompous, elitist and outmoded institution a realm thats the preserve of a privileged few. Thankfully, its trying to shake off this image, bringing in initiatives to open its doors to would be barristers from all walks of life.
That said, competition at the bar becomes fiercer every year as theres a shrinking market for advocacy as well as increasing competition from law firms keen to hoard more of the existing litigation work for themselves.
Indeed, for those of you whove already put some thought into qualifying as a barrister youre no doubt aware that its arguably more difficult to break into the bar than into the solicitors profession. So I neednt bother warning you that youll need to put some serious effort into securing that ever more elusive pupillage.
But before you rush off to apply for a mini pupillage I suggest you do some research closer to home by asking yourself some of the following: Are you a team player or do you prefer working on your own? Do you like the idea of meeting and dealing with clients? How would you feel about being self-employed? Do you enjoy a good argument and do you always win? Can you afford the cost of training if you dont secure a scholarship?
Your answers to the above questions should hopefully help you determine which profession youre most likely to excel in. For instance, although as a barrister you will join a particular chambers, you are essentially your own boss, meaning you can work on your own terms. The drawback is that you will spend more time working on your own than you would do in a law firm. Also, dont forget that a barristers client base is mainly made up of solicitors. So if its client contact youre after then working as a solicitor is probably a better option for you.
The cost of training is astronomical whether you choose to train as a solicitor or barrister. However, there are more sources of funding available for wannabe solicitors as the larger firms will make a generous financial contribution towards the cost of the LPC. The Bar Council is aware of the huge costs associated with training as a barrister and is looking to offer loans at reasonable rates of interest to BVC students, so watch this space.
Theres no denying that the bar is more exclusive than ever, but if you have the talent and determination theres no reason why you shouldnt find a home.