Talented sixth-formers 'AimHigher' to aspire to a career at the Bar

Aston Law AimHigher
23 July 2010

Over eighty Year 12 students considering a career in the Law were treated to inspirational talks from top QCs, practising barristers and legal academics at a weekend conference, ‘How to get to the Bar’, held at St Philips Chambers in Birmingham.

The students were able to take part in practical exercises so that they experienced how to think like a lawyer and evaluate what they actually knew as facts based on a number of conflicting witness statements. 

The event, believed to be the first of its kind in the region, involved a collaboration between AimHigher, Aston Law, Schools & Colleges Liaison at Aston University, the Bar Council, and St Philips Chambers, the largest set of chambers outside London. Aimed at sixth-form students from non-traditional backgrounds with a genuine interest in practice at the Bar, the event last Saturday attracted students from across the West Midlands region – and from as far afield as Lancashire.

Nicholas Green QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, welcomed the students and presented an interesting overview of life at the Bar describing it “an adrenaline rush, a performance, a great sense of satisfaction…”, adding, “you don’t always win, but you know in your heart of hearts that you did your best for your client.” Richard Atkins, of St Philips Chambers, told of his own journey to become a barrister, how a non-traditional background should not deter, and amused the audience with some witty stories from criminal law practice.

The next session was designed to equip students with knowledge about applying to study Law at University – and what to expect – and was led by the team of academics, Professor Jill Poole, Odette Hutchinson and James Roebuck, from Aston Law, part of Aston University in Birmingham.

Jill Poole, Head of Aston Law and Professor of Commercial Law, said:

'I was a delight to be able to offer advice, guidance and an insight into the path to a career in the Law to Year 12 students who are already showing such an interest – and who demonstrated such talent, and an ability to think, in practical exercises. I wish such events had been available when I was a sixth form pupil at the local comprehensive school.'

The day included inspirational and amusing talks by His Honour Judge William Davis QC, the Recorder of Birmingham and the Head of St Philips Chambers, James Burbudge QC, who examined current issues and developments in the law from a judge’s and a barrister’s perspective.  Other members of Chambers gave an insight into the type of daily work for barristers who specialised in crime (not personally, of course), PI (personal injury law), family law and employment law. There were also a number of practical sessions throughout the day where students got some hands-on experience of what it might be like to be faced with a brief (instruction in a legal case with the associated papers and evidence). 

The latter part of the day saw a Q & A session. Participants were able to ask the Panel anything they wished and students posed a number of difficult intellectual issues in their questions. They even asked His Honour Judge Davis how much he earned and his Lordship provided them with the answer – and a further incentive to ‘aim high’ in Law.

Budding participants were able to don wigs and gowns in an attempt to experience for themselves how they could potentially look within a decade, or less, and a group of current Aston Law LLB students were on hand to answer questions about life as a law student.

The event was a roaring success and enjoyed by all who attended. One student participant from Haybridge High School and Sixth Form commented that:

'The day was truly inspiring in fabulous surroundings and a resounding success amongst us all.  It was a unique opportunity to hear about the working life of a Barrister and we all felt really lucky to have this opportunity.   We've made up our minds now...definitely Law!'

Speaking after the event, Nicholas Green QC, the Chairman of the Bar, said:

'The event was not only a real success, it was great fun. The sixth formers were self-evidently absorbed by what they had heard and by the discussions they had with members of the Bar and in the case studies they had examined. It was great to see so many who had a real interest in a career at the Bar.'

‘How to get to the Bar’ was so well received, and enjoyed by all participants, that a date for next year has already been fixed.

To find out more about the courses available visit the Aston Law web pages.

For all media enquiries contact Dhiren Katwa, Press Officer for Aston Business School, on 0121 204 4954 or email