Introducing Junior

In this article, Junior Klutse, a Commercial Paralegal at magic circle firm, Freshfields and part-time BPC LL.M. student at The University of Law, describes his journey in his pursuit to become a barrister. He also shares his top tips that have helped him so far.

 

Genesis

I lived in Munich and Erfurt, Germany, for about nine and two years, respectively, before my family and I moved to Manchester, then Stevenage in the summer of 2008. I could only say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in English when I arrived here. If you were to meet me, you wouldn’t believe that I’m German. Probably not blonde enough. Plus, my strong Bavarian accent has utterly vanished. Or, at least, to a large degree.

 

Anyways, my interest in law was stimulated by the experience of arguing a case as part of a university activity day that my mate Ben and I attended in March 2014 (months before my GCSEs). I particularly enjoyed analysing the case and advocating for the claimant. The professors thought that I should pursue a career at the Bar. Since then, I have immersed myself in the legal world, aspiring to become a barrister.

 

University

Knowing that I wanted a career as a barrister, I participated in all things Bar-related: moots, mini-pupillages, marshalling, Bar Society, networking events with barristers etc. I was particularly keen on mooting, given that it is the closest thing you do to what a barrister might do in their job – conducting legal research, formulating complex arguments, and presenting it to a tribunal. I loved it (still do). Mooting, among other things, has reaffirmed that a career at the Bar is right for me.

 

Whilst studying Law (with German Law) and competing in the world’s largest mooting competition (surprise), I also led my university’s Bar Society. Under my presidency, for the first time since its formation in 2010, the Bar Society won the 2020 Lawcareer.net Student Law Society Awards for Best Mooting Activities in the country. Yeah, I didn’t expect that, though I did have a fantastic committee, which helped me develop the society from strength to strength.

 

Uni was fun. But I was serious about the Bar. So I utilised every barrister contact I had, especially one of my trusted mentors, Tom Lawal, to help me with my scholarship application for the Bar Course. In the end, I graduated with First Class Honours and obtained a major scholarship from Middle Temple, which covered the BPC fees. I commenced the Bar Course in September 2020.

 

Top tips for aspiring barristers

It does feel strange providing advice to people when I am not yet qualified as a barrister. I have, however, informally advised students before who have found it helpful and, in the end, obtained scholarships, too. Hopefully, you will find these practical tips, which are somewhat intertwined, beneficial.

 

  1. Network (and start early!)

When I finished my GCSEs in the summer of 2014, I was determined to gain legal work experience, particularly mini-pupillages. Having sent dozens of speculative emails to local firms in Stevenage, I was unsuccessful in finding legal work. One morning, I simply searched ‘#barrister’ on Twitter and found a law workshop ran by AskMe: Legal. That’s where I first met my mentor, Tom. I won a mini-pupillage in that event and stayed in touch with Tom ever since. I attended other events that AskMe: Legal ran and networked with the lawyers that were there. That has led me to obtain more mini-pupillages.

I once asked a QC whether I could shadow him in a case. He said, ‘yes’. If your law society is running an event where a barrister will be present (even if it is not specifically for networking), attend!

Network as much as you can. There is more than one way in obtaining legal work experience.

 

  1. Get a mentor

Similarly to obtaining work experience/mini-pupillages, there are numerous ways in which you can find a mentor. Networking is one of them. Nepotism is another! Below is a short list of schemes in which you can find a mentor, particularly if you come from a statistically underrepresented background:

  • The Middle Temple Access to the Bar Awards (although this is specifically for work experience, remember my networking point above)
  • Inner Temple PASS (same point as above)
  • Bridging the Bar Mentoring Scheme
  • Young Bar Mentoring
  • BME Legal Intensive Support Programme
  • Mentoring For Underrepresented Groups: a scheme run by Commercial Barristers’ Chambers
  • Maitland Chambers Mentoring Scheme
  • Bar Council e-Mentoring Scheme (for A-level and first year undergraduate students)

 

I was fortunate enough to have gotten mentors from four of the above schemes, in addition to the one’s I have gained through networking.

Consider these schemes.

They can be of inestimable value for you.

 

  1. Occupy positions of responsibility

Occupying positions of responsibility shows that you have the soft skills of becoming a barrister, like interpersonal, communication, time management, and leadership skills (among other traits). It will also provide you with the additional meaning that will sustain you in life and may justify why becoming a barrister is a purposeful goal to pursue. 

Also, adopt positions of responsibility as soon as you can – so that you can beef up your CV early on to increase your chances of getting on those various mentoring schemes or mini-pupillages. It may add some value to your scholarship application, too.

I hope that my short story and top tips will help you in your pursuit of becoming a barrister. 

 

Junior Klutse

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juniorklutse/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Junior_Klutse 

Photo by Mauricio Artieda on Unsplash

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