29 August 2013
BPTC student Nicholas Clemmow advises that good time-management is vital to success on the course.
Name: Nicholas Clemmow
University: The University of Manchester
Degree: BA (Hons) Ancient History and Archaeology
Law School: The University of Law, Bloomsbury (GDL and BPTC)
A-Levels: French, History and Theatre Studies
Hobbies: Skiing, Tennis, Football Referee and Charity Work
Why do you want to become a barrister and what area do you hope to specialise in eventually? Why?
Barristers are a vital element of the legal system and an essential part of our society. By becoming a barrister I would join a respected and established profession. Barristers are intelligent, focused, and prepared to take risks and confront difficulties – and I believe I am too. Success depends on hard work, commitment, confidence and being able to flourish in a competitive environment in chambers and in court. Being self-employed, you have only yourself to rely on and are judged by your results alone.
I am extremely interested in practicing family law. I come from a strong family background and have grown up to understand the importance of families in society. I have seen the need for fairness and getting the best possible outcome that means all parties are happy. I have learnt the significance of maintaining a sympathetic but professional attitude which is required in such an emotional area. I understand that the issues should be solved with the minimum amount of expense and anxiety, ensuring that clients feel well represented. As a volunteer for Victim Support I am experienced at providing support in situations that can be traumatic to the person involved. I consider myself to have the personality and skills which would enable me to succeed in a practice area which requires a capable yet sensitive hand.
What are your career plans?
My desire is to become a practicing family barrister. Ever since I first considered a career in law I have wanted to be a barrister. However, once you begin to apply, and discover the intense competition that exists then your plans may change even though the desire does not.
Do you have a pupillage lined up?
I was unsuccessful in obtaining a pupillage for 2013 and I am in the process of applying for pupillage for 2014. You begin to realise just how fierce the competition actually is once you begin to apply. You sometimes become fearful that you may never get that sought-after pupillage but by remembering that you are in a majority of students who do not yet have pupillage gives you that extra kick that you need to persevere.
How are you funding the course and how have you found managing your finances?
I have been lucky enough to have my course funded via private finance. Managing your personal finances is something that you can stay on top if you plan and watch what you spend – especially living in London!
How does the BPTC differ from your degree and/or GDL? Has it been a steep learning curve?
There are, of course, differences between my degree and the GDL compared to the BPTC, with the main difference being the way you learn. The BPTC is a vocational course so every day you are learning in a practical environment. You are practicing situations as though you were undertaking them as a qualified barrister. It is a fantastic way to learn because you improve and develop as a future advocate in a relaxed environment.
What is the social life like?
The social life is extremely varied. During my time on both the GDL and the BPTC I have been fully involved in extra-curricular activities, including running the Lawspeak Toastmasters Club and refereeing the University of Law football team. This has given me the chance to meet fellow students across all the courses offered by The University of Law. The University of Law also organises social events throughout the year where students can relax and meet each other in a social setting, culminating in an end of year ball.
What about pastoral care, such as the careers service?
The careers service has been of great use to me and other BPTC students. With law being such a competitive career to try and enter, we need all the help that is offered. From careers events, one-to-ones, and CV, application and interview workshops, we have been given the maximum possible help to kick-start a careers as barristers.
What top tip would you give to someone who is considering applying for the BPTC?
Plan your time. The BPTC can seem like an extremely daunting course, especially if you have come straight from university, but with thoughtful planning and hard work it is extremely enjoyable and rewarding.
Utilise the tutors. They form an integral part of your learning experience on the BPTC. They have been there and done it. Their advice and knowledge is extremely valuable.
Have you taken part in any mini-pupillages and if yes what did you learn?
I have completed a number of mini-pupillages. I started with a few in differing areas of law as I was unsure what area I wanted to practice in. However, once I knew that I wanted to practice family law I began to hone my legal experience to that area. Mini-pupillages are extremely important because they give you the chance to see “law in action,” and I don’t think you can underestimate of the importance of experience in this profession.