Graduate Diploma in Law, The City Law School
There are perhaps few 13-year-olds who have a clear idea of their future careers and even fewer who ultimately choose to follow the paths they envisioned for themselves at that age. But for Tessa Buchanan, who graduated from The City Law School in 2010 with a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), a mock legal trial at her school when she was in year nine stimulated an interest that this year will take her to one of the largest barristers' chambers in the country.
After graduating from the University of Cambridge with a BA in History in 2009, Tessa took the decision to study for the GDL at City University London because of The City Law School's reputation for students planning to go on to the Bar. The GDL is famously challenging, as non-law graduates study the equivalent of a three-year law degree in just one academic year, but Tessa felt well-supported by the excellent standard of education at the School and the academic resources available to students. She notes that the competitive spirit at The City Law School (itself a reflection of the fierce competition for training contracts for solicitors and pupillages for barristers) also encouraged her and her peers to excel in their studies.
This competition for jobs, together with the emphasis that her tutors at City placed on the importance of work experience, influenced Tessa's decision to spend the year following her completion of the GDL working in a variety of law-related roles. She spent part of the year volunteering for a law centre and a charity that specialises in providing legal support and representation to young people and also worked as a legal clerk. Throughout the year, she found a GDL from The City Law School to be a valuable asset, both in securing and carrying out her roles.
In September 2011, having been awarded an Inner Temple scholarship, Tessa resumed her studies, this time for the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Upon successful completion of the BPTC, she has been offered a pupillage at Garden Court Chambers, a barristers' chambers that has a strong track record in the fields that Tessa feels most passionate about: civil liberties, human rights and social justice.