In Autumn 2018, the Bar Council and the Inns of Court attended 18 law fairs across all six Circuits.
With over 30 barrister volunteers, 11 representatives from all four Inns of Court, and one Bar Council staff member, we reached over 800 law and non-law university students, to share information about careers at the Bar and what it takes to become a barrister.
Of course, this project exists to make careers at the Bar more accessible to the best and brightest students at universities across England and Wales. We select law fairs to attend based on the most recent data on rates of participation from underrepresented groups, which looks at how many students attend a university from a low participation neighbourhood. We hope to reach out to those who have not traditionally had as much access to and information about life at the Bar.
Charlie Taylor, Pre-Call Manager at Lincoln's Inn, highlights the importance of the scheme: "Many students at these universities have been exposed to little or no information about a career at the Bar. The law fairs are a great opportunity to dispel some myths around the profession and to let them know that becoming a barrister is a real possibility." For that reason, the law fairs project tackles some of the major barriers to diversity and social mobility at the Bar.
Behind the scenes, planning for the law fairs project began in early March… indeed, planning for 2019's programme has already begun! The Bar Council works with representatives from Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn, as well as representatives from various Specialist Bar Associations (SBAs), to plan this important outreach programme. We meet to select which law fairs we attend, to discuss volunteer recruitment strategy and to decide what kinds of materials we are going to provide for students.
As you can see, this project is no mean feat, and we rely heavily on members of the Bar to offer the best experience possible to students. As Struan Campbell, Outreach Manager at Inner Temple noted, "[i]t's great that the Inns, Bar Council and SBAs are working together to ensure people can access informed information and advice about becoming a barrister. We really value the insight that volunteers who are barristers are able to pass on to people who come up to the stand."
As Struan stresses, we could not provide the same service to students without our fantastic barrister volunteers. We are hugely grateful to members of the profession who are willing to give students an insight into various practice areas and life as a barrister. I myself attended some law fairs in Autumn and was hugely impressed by the engagement from students who approached our stand. If you are considering volunteering in 2019, I can assure you that you will find the experience hugely rewarding.
How barristers can support the law fairs project
Volunteer! We rely on volunteers help us to give the best possible information and experience to students. Keep an eye on the Bar Council website and BarTalk to find out how to volunteer, or contact Careers@BarCouncil.org.uk.
If barristers have networks or contacts at the universities we attend, please do circulate information about our stand. The more students prepare in advance, the better information and advice we can provide.
How students can get involved
Get in touch with us at Careers@BarCouncil.org.uk to find out more information about which university law fairs we are attending.
If you are planning to attend a law fair this year, make sure you do your research! Preparing properly is the key to getting the most out of your conversations with those on the stand. Browsing the careers section of the Bar Council website would be a good start.
Rose Malleson, Policy Assistant, the Bar Council.