Aspiring lawyers experience life in law

Aston Law - St Philips Chambers
12 July 2011

Young people with a keen interest in pursuing law as a career were given experience of life as a barrister as part of a special careers event, supported by the Law faculty at Aston Business School.

The event, entitled ‘How to get to the Bar’, brought together around sixty Year 12 school students at St Philips Chambers in Birmingham on 9 July. They were treated to inspirational talks from eminent QCs, other practising barristers and legal academics.

The aspiring lawyers were able to take part in practical exercises to experience the thought process of a lawyer, establishing fact from a number of conflicting witness statements.

The event, believed to be the first of its kind in the West Midlands and now in its second year, is the result of collaboration between AimHigher, Aston Law, Schools & Colleges Liaison at Aston University, the Bar Council and St Philips Chambers – the largest set of barristers’ chambers outside of London.

Aimed at sixth-form students from less privileged social and economic backgrounds with a genuine interest in the Bar, the event attracted students from across the West Midlands region.

Participant Tara Stanley-Nurse, from The Arthur Terry School, said: “I really enjoyed talking to barristers and learning about what they do in their day-to-day life.”

Also from the same school, Ajayta Rai, described the event as “really insightful”, adding, “we were able to get into the lives of barristers and see what they are really like underneath the wig”.

Another learner, Louise Whittington, from Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College, in Leicester, said: “It was really interesting to meet such prestigious characters. Everyone was so friendly, down-to-earth and realistic.” Kei-Retta Farrell, from Great Barr School, said: “I’m keen to pursue a career in Law as I would like to be the voice of people who aren’t always able to express themselves and defend themselves.”

Richard Atkins QC welcomed students and presented an interesting overview of life as the Head of the Criminal Group at St Philips Chambers. He told of his own journey to become a barrister, how a non-traditional background should not deter, and amused the audience with witty stories from criminal law practice. Several other members of St Philips also took time out to give an insight into their own specialist areas, including family, criminal and commercial law.

Then came to the podium Chris Owen, Chief Executive of St Philips Chambers, who delivered a presentation, entitled Chambers’ Life, which won rapturous applause.

Another session was designed to equip students with knowledge about applying to study law at university, and what to expect from the course. This was led by two academics from Aston Law: Odette Hutchinson and Robert Goddard.

Robert Goddard, LLB Course Director, said:

“To see the smiles on the faces of such talented, promising and ambitious young learners was delightful. Collectively, they demonstrated extraordinary talent and an ability to think creatively in practical exercises. It’s wonderful to see such opportunities being offered to today’s learners. Events like this help to demystify the law and legal practice and helps to encourage those with ability, passion and determination to consider a career at The Bar.”

Peter Lodder QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, said:
“The Bar Council is strongly committed to ensuring that the profession continues to become more diverse and socially representative. We are delighted to collaborate in events like the ‘How to Get to the Bar’ conference in order to reach out to bright and talented students and show them that the Bar is open to all.”

The day ended with a Q & A session with the panel, after which participants were able to try on barristers’ wigs and gowns. A group of undergraduate Aston law students were at hand to answer questions about life as a law student.

The event was a resounding success and was greatly appreciated by attendees.

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For all media enquiries contact Dhiren Katwa in the Communications Team at Aston University on 0121 204 4954 or email