2018 Denning Lecture (4 December)
BACFI AGM (28th November)
Student Careers Event
Employed Bar Garden Party (19th June)
Islamic Finance and the English Courts (22nd February)
Student Careers Event
17th October 2018
On the 17th of October 2018, BACFI held its annual student evening in conjunction with the Employed Bar Committee of the Bar Council kindly hosted by City Law School, Grays Inn. We had a grand turn out of aspiring Barristers and members who came to listen to tips on approaching applications for the employed Bar from established in-house Barristers and our very own President of BACFI Baroness Hale. We even had a waiting list.
Marlon Gray of City University careers opened the event giving a demonstration of legal CVs and applications and the do's and don'ts in preparing for an interview.
Julia Witting, Head of Supervisions at the Bar Standard Board and Jake Armes, Projects & Operations Officer, set out the new rules for qualifying as a Barrister and mentioned that the developments are geared towards making the Bar more accessible without the excessive cost to hopefuls. They said the introduction of the BCAT had been a success as it gave students a more realistic view of whether they were ready to pursue the BPTC. Julia told of the ongoing lobbying for a change to provide in-house Barristers with the opportunity of judicial appointments. Currently, in-house lawyers are less likely to be called for judicial roles.
Many students were unaware of all the opportunities that were available in-house and how it was possible to have a fulfilling career as an in-house lawyer. Questions such as, “will I be able to do advocacy and go to court” were answered by our speakers in the affirmative. Sarah Cawley-Wilkinson from the global accountancy regulator ACCA stated that she was doing advocacy every day, sometimes even in the High Court. Anthony Lavers, a partner from White & Case (the US powerhouse with a big presence in the City), said that he chose not to do advocacy but his firm mainly used in-house Barristers from their large team of litigators. Sonia Hayes an Assistant Coroner stated that she has been going to court for most of her career with different employers. However, she warned that being self-reliant and confident is key for an in-house role because you don’t have the camaraderie and support of Chambers' colleagues so you have to be confident in your abilities, as there will be no one to hold your hand when faced with the reality of complex cases every day.
Clare Strickland from the Nursing and Midwifery Council spoke about her role and how her organisation trains its pupils. Clare has worked both in-house and as a self-employed practitioner. She recommended that individuals wanting to gain experience should watch the professional conduct hearings which are open to the public as her organisation does not offer work experience. She also commented that about 2 to 3 mini-pupillages are sufficient. A large number of pupillages on a candidate's CV can look unattractive.
Laurence Fry from JX Nippon said he had never regretted his decision as a young Barrister to decide on an in-house career. He has been working in the Telecomms and Energy sector for many years and had the opportunity to travel all over the world from Azerbaijan to Japan, working on interesting projects such as dealing with the contracts for construction of oil rigs and significant telecommunications disputes. He encouraged applicants who were not just interested in black letter law to look at the in-house sector as there were many interesting opportunities available. He also highlighted a big factor for many who venture in-house: "work life balance”. Furthermore, there is certainty about pay and benefits such as holidays and pensions in comparison to joining a Chamber.
The night ended with a keynote speech from Baroness Hale who was on top form (bear in mind this was late - 8:45 pm after a long day's work at the Supreme Court). She reminded us that she has been working in-house all her life and that it has allowed her to juggle multiple public offices while raising a family and pursuing personal endeavours, such as writing several books and articles. She believes her in-house positions played a part in her success today and encouraged attendees to consider an in-house role. Her main theme was that we should not worry about our failures, because successful people fail and it is these failures that help us to learn and grow, strengthening our resistance so we can bring a better version of ourselves next time. She also said that sometimes it is not necessarily our inability why we fail but other people's prejudice. She gave an example of when she applied for a professorship at Manchester University and failed. She said that today every time she spoke at the university she would say, ‘thank you for not giving me that position because if you did, I would not be where I am today.’ She finished amusingly by stating that her generation has taken most of the first women roles, but there is still a lot to do in the judiciary, which she has prioritised.
All in all the event was a great success. Aspiring barristers gathered in the common room to network with the guests and speakers and a measure of the success of the evening was the number of people saying they look forward to the next event. See you there!
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