Thursday, 17 April 2008


There, I have said it now, Failure. Watching 'The Apprentice' with the idiots competing to work for Sir Alan, one of them couldn't bring himself to even say the word. I can.

Failure, Failure, Failure.

I have just failed an important assignment for Uni. It was an assessed assignment writing all about how some money left to an unincorporated Society would be dealt with. Clever as I am not, I spent most of my time writing about the range of options available to the courts in dealing with the wonga, instead of being specific about this particular wonga. I did include it, but obviously not well enough, so I failed.

Now I could complain that the lecturer was being particularly harsh, or that its important I passed and its not fair, but being a grown up I will take it on the chin and move on.

When I opened the envelope I must admit to a certain amount of shock and disbelief. I thought I had written a cracking piece of work, so when I saw 36%, I felt that perhaps I was looking at the wrong box, and a decent 60% would be written elsewhere. But alas, 36% was my mark.

Apparently the external board may lift it up a tad to 40%, which would be jolly decent of them, but couldn't my lecturer have done that? No, if its bad, then its bad. I can't get credit for rubbish can I.

So how do I feel? Foolish perhaps, annoyed certainly, mainly with myself, but shock and worry seem to loom large in my thoughts. I don't think I have ever failed a test before. Right from spelling tests at Juniyer Skool I have always hit the pass mark. In fact, practically everything I have ever done I hit the pass mark. Never really excel, so it must be a knack I have picked up over the years, assess what is needed, and do that, no more, no less, just whats needed. No point wasting effort getting more than is needed is there. Except, now I wish I had. Now I am annoyed with myself enough to have devised a punishing revision timetable that will leave nothing to chance in the exams.

I get to take a resit after the exams in June, and next time it will be a work of art. I will have to figure out how to make sure it is a work of art, but it will be. I know the maximum I will score for it will be 40%, but hey, if I hit the exams with plenty of knowledge I may still get a decent overall score. The assignment makes up 25% of the overall mark and must be a pass (40%)

Worry is in the mix too. I assume I can't get to the BVC without a full pass, I am sure its in the terms and conditions somewhere, worried that I have 1 last chance to get it right. Nothing in reserve now, its last chance saloon. Worried that I may look a bit silly. Ha, the others in the class will laugh, thinks he can be a barrister and he failed! Slightly worried that my other assessed assignment for Public Law, which I know to be a work of art may be rubbish too.

Looking at it in the cold light of dawn this morning (Fateful post came yesterday), I mainly feel pleased that failing is the spur I needed to really crack on and make this count. I wanted to make this years exams count anyway, but was still drifting towards them without much thought. Now I am fired up and enthusiastic.

Now I know I will pass.


Tuesday, 8 April 2008


To any aspiring barrister, 'mini's are supposed to be dreadfully important, and having done a few I thought I am reasonably well qualified to give an opinion.

My cunning plan to find where to go was quite simple, in that I purloined a copy of 'Prospects' from university which listed towards the back the top 50 mini-pupillage providers. You could try where I assume the same info will be found.

Each chambers is listed along with their specialisms. I highlighted 17 that were in the 2 fields I was interested in (note, was) and sent them a cv and covering letter.

A couple responded with a thanks but no thanks, and then a breakthrough, I was offered one. Then another, and another, until 6 came back offering a place. To a old git with boyish good looks this was a welcome confirmation that I wasn't wasting my time at least trying to become a barrister.

So I attended the first. Family Law. (Based on my previous 'extensive' experience.) You will be told that doing a mini will help you get a feel for the chambers, to see if you feel that you would fit in. I can't actually see how that happens, as only once did I manage to get past reception into the inner reaches. Was I impressed by the cubby holes they work in? No, but if they offered me a pupillage I would snap their hand off!

So I attended court on each of the 5 days, with 5 different barristers. One was a QC, and all of them were lovely welcoming and friendly people. Even the clerks, who seemed rushed off their feet doing a job which I didn't like the look of (hassled administration it seemed) were friendly and nice.

And what did I learn from my 5 days in court?

In true Catherine Tate style, I sat at the back of the court thinking 'I could do that' It wasn't rocket science, it wasn't impossible that only the chosen few could get to grips with, it was a good job, hard work, but achievable. Further confirmation that one day, my son, I will be a barrister.

One other thing I did learn was to make sure you have read all of the documents prior to arriving at court. It doesn't give a good impression frantically reading and taking notes all day.

You should always ask for a copy of the papers being used in court as it helps to follow proceedings if you can understand what they are doing.

My second mini was professional misconduct, contracts that had gone wrong etc. I quite enjoyed that, but learn one more very important lesson:

Whatever area of law you go into, once you know the law, the process of being a barrister is the same. You find your arguments, spot the other sides weaknesses, build your case around those.

I have also done what I had believed the worst of the worst areas, landlord/tenant stuff. (I hated Land law) Surprisingly, I enjoyed it so much I even contemplated trying to work in it. Have also done Personal Injury which was fab, and now I want to do that. Ideally, I would like to do a variety or areas, but realistically I suppose I will fall into one area and stick there.

Of all the mini's I have done, everybody without exception has been lovely, welcoming and friendly. I have no idea what any of the chambers are really like behind reception, so have no idea whether I would fit in or not.

On the whole, I enjoyed them all and can't wait to be complete my pupillage and start work in earnest.

I did speak to the person who I wrote to asking for a mini and asked him why he had chosen me. Gather round and listen carefully, this is important.

'He said that he gets hundreds of letters. Hundreds and hundreds. Most of them say, 'I have excellent grades, I enjoy playing football on saturdays, I want to be a barrister, can I have a mini-pupillage?' He discards those straight away. he is looking for something that stands out, that marks you as being someone with a talent for something that will benefit the chambers, or something that stands you out from the crowd. He couldn't actually remember what it was on mine that had stood out, but I don't exactly have a conventional background so it could have been one of a number of things!

Mini-pupillages, essential, good fun, enjoyable, tiring!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


Did I say that I was new to blogging and that it would come to me?

Well, I lost the blog. Whatever i tried I couldn't get back here to see what I had typed, or if anyone commented. Lo and behold 2 comments. Cricky Moses.

How did you know I had posted or even begun a blog? Its all a mystery to me.

Also my tried and tested password didn't seem to work either. Oh well, I think its sorted now.

Cheers Mr P, and Law Girl for finding me.

Well, the scholarship I didn't get, but it was very interesting attending the interview, and i think I took a lot of encouragement from it.

You see, from my lowly beginnings, brought up on the wrong side of the tracks, destined for a manual job and no big prospects, life took a new turn when I divorced and discovered that the legal aid solicitor my ex-wife used was a nincompoop and that I could draw swords and fight just as well as she could.

As an LIP I seemed to manage pretty well, and began to assist others until I wondered just how difficult would it be to qualify and do this properly.

Hence my new found career prospects ahead.

As mature student, and I mean mature, I have found it very interesting and quite good fun. Like being in the army, which I did for a while when I left school, it isn't fun while you are there doing it, but looking back its quite good fun really.

Never having attained a degree of any sort, I managed to wangle a certificate of Academic Standing from the Law Society to get onto the Graduate Diploma in law, which draws to a conclusion in 3 months. 2.5 months!

I was accepted into an Inn, and offered two places for the BVC, which again, is encouraging me to continue. I have done 4 minis, and I really do think that it is all acheivable.