What motivated you to apply for the Bar Vocational Studies Course?
My father and mother fought so hard to open doors in the 60s, as Windrush draftees, and their experiences, and the fact I was always an evaluative deep-thinking child, continually observing and speaking out, when something felt wrong or unjust, were real motivators for me pursuing a career in law.
I always wanted to be a barrister before I even knew what a barrister was and after working many years in public services, I am now more motivated to be a voice for people in need.
Why did you choose The City Law School?
City felt more like a home than just a service provider. I read reviews and spoke with graduates that had left The City Law School and collectively their response was that City nurtured what you already possessed.
They felt City promoted a more independent way of thinking amongst its students. Seeing students as individuals and not just a number.
I have met many graduates, qualified barristers and solicitors at networking events and overall, City’s graduates possessed a passion for law like no other.
Those I mostly encountered would always remember a favourite lecturer or class they excelled in. The way the lecturers have cared and guided their postgraduate trainees is what I appreciated and gravitated towards the most.
I find City Law School to be an exemplary example of an outstanding forward-thinking establishment that produces a diverse set of well-rounded pupils ready for the Bar.
For instance, Dr Ivy Williams was the first woman to be called to the Bar and she was an Alumna of City Law School.
This is of particular importance to me, as a woman and as a keen supporter of gender equality.
What has been your favourite module or aspect of your course so far?
I have mostly enjoyed the more advocacy-based modules such as Conference Skills and Criminal Advocacy. I have also been able to apply my skills learnt throughout my years of practice in public health from counselling and consulting clients.
I have been able to adapt them accordingly in conferences.
The lecturers are highly experienced barristers. They continually provide us with useful strategies to improve our craft. I enjoyed preparing my cross-examinations and Examination-in-chief each week from the legal briefs we were provided via our online platform.
It gave me a sense of how the theory is applied in practice, as we performed weekly through role-play to emulate a realistic conference or trial with our clients and witnesses. I have found these sessions to be very useful in critically evaluating my skills.
Especially, as we are able to evaluate each-others performance (as peers) in a safe and respectful environment.
I have also enjoyed studying Professional Ethics, as it is a foundational element in practicing as a barrister and it is also a fundamental aspect throughout all of the modules taught on the BVS course.
How have you found the online learning aspect of teaching this year?
I have not yet experienced face-to-face lectures at City Law School, due to the pandemic. However, I am looking forward to hopefully attending some throughout my second year of my part-time BVS (2021-22).
This of course was a bit of a blow at first, but we swiftly got used to the online platform. Our lecturers have been in the same boat and are very understanding to limitations faced by wi-fi or household interruptions.
This has been a year like no other and therefore a learning experience like no other for all involved. I do feel City Law School has been able to negate the challenges of online learning by creating many avenues to keep communication open with its student population outside of lectures as well as within.
What opportunities and experiences has City offered you so far? (Events, pro bono, etc.)
Since starting my Bar Vocational Studies at City in September 2020, I have had many opportunities to develop my skills and grow both academically and professionally.
Firstly, I was chosen as a Deputy Representative by my fellow peers to represent them on matters of importance which affect their academic productivity. This has allowed me to work closely with senior members of staff, the school office and the Students Union.
I help to facilitate consistency within the BVS course and ensure that students have a vehicle to communicate their needs anonymously through me.
I have also had the opportunity to attend management-based training due to this role and have received valuable feedback on how I can promote my experience as a representative in future pupillage interviews and on application forms.
Additionally, I have participated in several online talks and debates and will soon be a part of an online panel at an event directed at prospective law students coming to City.
What knowledge and skills has your course helped you develop?
The BVS course has allowed my authenticity to shine and has grown my confidence in areas I didn’t think possible prior to starting the course.
This in turn has been an instrumental part in me recently being awarded the ‘Queen Mother Scholarship’ from The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, given to outstanding candidates aspiring to be called to the Bar of England and Wales.
I truly believe that my prestigious award would not have been possible if not for the skills I have gained at City this year through debate club, criminal advocacy and many online events and training.
Not to forget the added support of the staff that have believed in my abilities when at times I momentarily doubted myself. I have made so many meaningful friendships and forged bonds with many amazing students and staff whom I will always keep in contact.
What advice would you give to someone considering the BVS at City? (in particular the part time option.)
Studying part-time has allowed me to balance my work and home-life accordingly around my studies. I am able to dedicate more time to legal work experience, time spent on class preparation and revision.
I would not have been able to undertake such invaluable activities if I had taken the full-time BVS route.
I advise prospective BVS trainees to consider your responsibilities greatly, as the BVS course is an intense one and it demands great commitment and the ability to manage your time effectively.
Therefore, if you have certain family responsibilities, as well as full time employment or other time expensive commitments, it is sensible to consider the part-time route. It is also more affordable and creates more space for professional and self-growth both mentally and practically in preparation for the bar.
Additionally, I have been able to spread out my qualifying sessions over many months and have been able to apply for the Inn of court scholarship twice, in which I then achieved upon my second attempt.
This was because I learnt so much that was applicable to what the bar was looking for throughout my first year on the BVS. I was more focused in what specific area I wished to practice in and the panel saw this.
The part-time BVS route for me has been an invaluable option and I could not fault it.