I also enjoyed ongoing access to all the development opportunities I had throughout my LLB and found new ones, including taking on the role of Master of the Mooter’s Guild.
More about Jorge
Why did you choose NTU and Nottingham Law School?
I knew when applying for my LLB that I wanted to continue to the Bar Course, and NLS is one of only a handful of providers offering both courses. When I attended the open day, I was impressed by the quality of the facilities and the range of opportunities beyond pure academics, especially the advocacy experience I could gain prior to the Bar Course through the integration of mooting on the LLB. NLS also offered the unique benefit of having its regulated in-house law firm – NLS Legal – and I was able to volunteer with them through all 4 years of my studies.
Why did you choose to study the BTC at NTU?
When I applied for the LLB, the plan was to stay on at NTU for the Bar Course, and I was happy to continue my journey here. Choosing NTU meant I already knew the staff, the buildings, the city, and the University culture, so I could focus my attention on the course. I also enjoyed ongoing access to all the development opportunities I had throughout my LLB and found new ones, including taking on the role of Master of the Mooter’s Guild.
What inspired you to study law?
My first exposure to the legal profession was as a Junior Clerk, a job I stumbled across in 2018. I quickly realised I saw a career in the law, not as a clerk, but in the work the members were doing. I was particularly interested then in our employment and clinical negligence work, and I retain these interests along with new areas of law I hadn’t experienced before my studies.
What did you enjoy about your course?
The best part of the course was the sense of community and comradery. The BTC cohort is relatively small, in stark contrast to the LLB intake, and so making connections with classmates and the wider group took no time. We supported each other throughout the year, in our seminars, in the library, at qualifying sessions, and beyond the course. I don’t think I’d have managed it all without them!
Tell us a little bit about your current role
I started my current role just a week after the end of the Bar Course. I’m working for legal charity Support Through Court as Service Manager for their all-new online service. Support Through Court helps litigants who don’t have access to legal representation, with many of our clients facing domestic abuse, homelessness, and discrimination. As Service Manager, I’ve been tasked with launching the new service and I’m responsible for a team of volunteers who provide emotional and practical support to clients. I also maintain our crucial relationship with NTU, as we’re proud to be hosted by Nottingham Law School in the Chaucer building. On a personal note, it’s a pleasure to still be part of the extended NTU family and to be able to give something back to the University.
What advice would you give to anyone considering studying the BTC?
There’s no end to the advice you could be given before starting the BTC, so here a 5 key points:
- The Bar Course is intense. The work isn’t particularly difficult but the volume of work is unforgiving. Anyone considering the course should ensure they have the time management skills and dedication that volume requires.
- Get comfortable on your feet well before you start. Around one third of the grade on the BTC comes from advocacy assessments and you’ll be given advocacy work from the outset. The more skilled and confident with advocacy you are before you start, the better you can engage with that work from the outset. I’d recommend mooting above all else, but mock trials, ADR, or even debating will improve your confidence.
- Don’t be afraid of getting things wrong. University is the place to make mistakes before pupillage and the Bar Course is too short to worry about being perfect. Try to engage with every opportunity (before and during the BTC) and give it your best, but remember you’re there to learn and develop you skills. I saw a student turn down the chance to try witness handling in the Court of Appeal because they were too concerned with embarrassing themselves! Take every opportunity and ask for feedback wherever you can.
- Get your qualifying sessions done early. Before you’re called to the Bar, you’ll need to attend your Inn for at least 10 qualifying sessions, covering advocacy skills, preparation for pupillage, professional ethics, and more. With some planning, these can be finished before the onslaught of assessments, and I’d encourage you to look at QSs ahead of starting the course so you can make that work.
- Apply for scholarships! The Inns of Court and NTU offer scholarships for students pursuing a career at the Bar. With the costs of postgraduate study, it’s always worth exploring these options. I was awarded a Gray’s Inn Jean Southworth scholarship which covered my BTC fee and gave me the stable financial backing to focus on the work.
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