From law student to barrister

ONCE you have completed your law degree or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), what do you do next? Some want to study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and qualify as a solicitor, others want to join the Bar and study the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC).

The traditional images of a barrister are lawyers in court wearing a wig and gown, questioning witnesses and appearing for the prosecution or defence – professionals whom are held in high regard by many clients and jurisdictions across the world.

Whilst these may remain true, the role of a barrister has developed and evolved whilst retaining much of its high standards and ethical expectations. Barristers remain true to the notion of “fairness and access to justice”, ensuring that clients are fully informed on the merits of their case and giving advice that they may not want to hear in a clear and thoughtful manner.

With such high responsibilities and expectations, it is important every single member of the Bar has the same basic skills and abilities. Without them you cannot be an effective communicator or persuader, nor can you represent the interests of others independently and not be corrupted by your own thoughts and opinions.

The BPTC programme builds on your legal knowledge and enables you to acquire and develop skills, in-depth knowledge and values necessary to become an effective, successful and capable legal professional. The programme bridges between the academic study of the law with legal practice.

You will learn about criminal, civil and evidential rules related to the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the ethical standards by which barristers operate, and gain practical skills in communicating with clients and questioning witnesses.

The BPTC is delivered by staff who are professionally qualified as a barrister or solicitor, using their skills and knowledge in small group sessions to tailor individual feedback to strengthen your learning needs.

The programme allows you to be well-equipped with the skills and attributes for a highly successful career, not just at the Bar, but across other professions including business and politics. For many students outside of the UK, completing the BPTC has assisted them in their careers greatly; many undertake pupillage and straight into practice, others use the skills from BPTC to transfer them into other career paths.

Teaching the skills is not enough; students should also have access to and participate in various mooting, negotiation, conferencing and advocacy competitions. It is also important when studying that you meet and network with members of the local Bar; speak to barristers who offer their time to meet students and give helpful guidance and advice.

The BPTC at Northumbria is designed to give you the best possible training for life as a barrister. Northumbria is committed to ensuring its BPTC students have the opportunities to unleash their potential – preparing its students for a bright future in legal practice.

As part of their commitment to student development, the university offers options on the BPTC that would enable you to utilise your newly developed skills under the supervision of a practitioner before you graduate and go into practice.

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