02 March, 2010

A message to a 3rd yr law student

I met a girl this weekend who is a third year law student who wants to do the BVC.

She had evidently heard that I had completed it a little while ago and wanted to 'network' (well, that was what it felt like when she sought me out). It felt odd to be the object of a networker and is a salutatory lesson in remembering to be subtle in order to not instantly annoy your networkee.

She asked me how pupillage was and I informed her that I still didn't have one and I was looking. She looked at me in a 'oh, I thought you were intelligent but now you are stupid' way - in a similar way you would momentarily look at someone who you had presumed to be intelligent but who told you they could not read, but herr looked lacked the bit of sympathy I assume would be present in your look to the illiterate. So, to quote Tim Minchin(1), "my diplomacy dyke groans, And the arsehole held back by its stones. Could be held back no more"as I proceeded to go off on "one of my rare (2), but fun, rants" at her:

I might have said something along the following lines "No need to look quite so shocked, you realise, I presume, that only one in every five (3) people who complete the BVC successfully ever get pupillage. I have to assume you knew that because frankly, anyone who is idiot enough to shell out £10,000 without fully researching the odds obviously hasn't got the requisite judgement which would be needed to be a barrister anyway"

She continued to look shocked in a slightly different way and I suspect that she wasn't quite as aware of the statistics I as assume any prospective BVC student is and is now caught in a conversational catch-22 between admitting she is arrogant enough to think she will make it (and therefore implicitly telling me I'm rubbish for not doing so) or admitting she's an idiot for having no idea how competitive it all is.

I really hope that she now does go away and do some actual research. And, perhaps hypocritically given my lack of people skills in the rant above, learns how not to annoy people in under 30 seconds - surely that skill is an inherent part of any pupillage interview?


(1) He's very funny. Do go and see him when he next comes to your city.

(2) The word 'rare' may not be strictly accurate

(3) I tend to change this number for anything between 3 - 8 as it doesn't exist in my head as a 'real' number any more, it is simply there as 'only 1 in lots' or 'only 1 in many' (I feel like one of Terry Pratchett's trolls)


simply wondered said...

always good to shout at annoying people. a social duty, i reckon. i had no idea hat the hit rate for pupillage was before i paid my cash. on the other hand, i don't beleive in stats. there is no point in saying it's one in ....(i am a pratchett troll myself!) when you will, by definition, not bear comparison with a very high proportion of the sample. this applies whether you are good or bad. so beyond knowing there are a lot more people who want pupillage than are going to get it, i don't believe there is much useful to be drawn from it.

Miss Middle of Manchester said...

I think it was the assumption that not getting pupillage = abnormal failure that got my goat...

Anonymous said...

Some people really have no idea.
I still meet people who think they are going to walk into a TC at a top firm (I won't name which) with a 2.2, weak a-levels and no experience - when everyone I know who are currently trainees at said firm are outstanding actually even better than outstanding (and didn't get in on their first go).

Android said...

There's now a 'health warning' on the BVC/BPTC applications website - http://www.barprofessionaltraining.org.uk

Miss Middle of Manchester said...

'Helpfully' the link to the statistics contains a typo and reads www/ rather than www. meaning applicants have to manually put it into the address bar, get a wrong result and scan it before actually getting to the site.

I think the health warning is a good idea. I think it also doesn't go far enough. Whatever problems there are with statistics, these are the best we have and should be placed in the health warning directly.

simply wondered said...

yes - fair comment about the stats. just because you don't know the actual risk of getting cancer from smoking doesn't mean they shouldn't warn you there's a risk.
i just think '1 in 5' shouldn't make you paranoid.

absolutely with you on that assumption thing - sooooooo annoying. i was talking to a barrister at an advocacy weekend about my applications to chancery sets. she gave me a pitying glance and said 'you need very good academics to get into those sets'. i didn't bother mentioning that my academics were pretty good actually and i had taken the trouble to compare the cvs of their junior tenants as a rough and dirty way of seeing whether i was trying to punch above my weight. and why the hell did she assume i hadn't got good academics in the first place. i went and looked her up afterwards and was happy to see that my academics pissed all over hers. sadly i will never be able to compete with her at jumping to conclusions.

Android said...

My colleagues don't even know what pupillage is!