Sunday, 17 August 2008


I feel I'm at a crossroads. Indecision all around me. Let me apply some Fiddler on the roof style reasoning:

On the one hand, I think I should probably get a job somepoint soon because I don't want to be a student forever.

On the other hand, there's no rush to get to the Bar, more experience and qualifications will only help (to get pupillage, to get better work, and generally to have more life experience before I start work proper).

On the other hand, I don't want to dilly dally about too much before working - and I can't face another 3-4 years studying.

On the other hand, I really do want to do some more studying - at least an LLM.

And then, I'm advised (by Daddy dearest) that I should really just go straight into a Phd or DPhil. This makes sense given the area of law I'm interested in (international law, human rights etc) and the fact that I would like to be able to straddle academia and practice.

But then, on the other hand, that seems like a lot - surely an LLM would be enough? Maybe I should do the LLM, work for a bit, then consider a Phd?

But then - it all matters on where I get into anyway - there's no point doing anything that isn't at a decent place.

But then who's going to pay for it?

But on the other hand it would be an investment in my future...

But do I even have anything I could even write 100,000 words about? Do I even have the stamina, the ability for it? I do like to spend 5 hours a day watching Rab C Nesbitt on Youtube and 3 hours a day eating/cooking... and another 10 sleeping, which doesn't leave much!

But then, if I want to change the world and help people and stuff I should think that I'd have plenty to say - and I did really enjoy my dissertation. In a painful/pleasurable kind of way...


ETA: Perhaps I should go for the safer option given my apparent lack of any usefulness or common sense. I managed to miss the old alarm clock this morning, waking up at 9:24 (when I should have been at my desk at 9:30, an hour and a bit away). Eventually got in looking like last night's dinner, and forgot to put my contacts in. Which means I had my glasses on - which I normally only wear at home, or when I'm doing a face mask.

French Clay mad be very good for the skin, but globs of it on one's spectacles are not a great office look! Oh dear, oh dear...


Bar Boy said...

SM QC has opined on the value of post grad qualifications. The gist being that a BCL would be handy but probably not much else. Perhaps, a very particular LLM which has a niche relevance may be handy (if not essential for an academic career) but, other than that, it seems that those in the know say post grad qualifications will not help vocationally. Doing post grad for personal interest is not to be dismissed. In this vein, the London external option might be worth a look because it allows the student to dip in, and out, over a max of 5 years. This makes it easier to fit the study in with other commitments and to spread the cost to suit.

Mel said...

Good point, I should go back and re-read that post. My dad's opinion is influenced heavily by his technical/scientific background, and things are different in law.

However - if you expand vocational use to include potential academic work maybe that changes things?

Mel said...

Also - good point re the external option, but I was an undergrad at a London uni and am looking beyond the Smoke for post grad!

Law Minx said...

I am of the opinion that External is not only expensive,even over 5 years ( which is a bloody long time to sustain discipline in study) but far more difficult than your usual LLM because you have absolutely NO support whatsoever whilst undertaking it - and this is vital when it comes to the dissertation component.Neither am I sure that they carry the same gravitas as other LLMS. That said, some London University Colleges hsve some tasty looking programs which can be undertaken on a part time basis.

The BCL is the best thought of version of an LLM, particularly when it comes to the bar, but it's very hard to get on to; unless you have a first, forget it.

As BB says, Niche LLM's are available and are often a good sign of commitment to an eventual speciality; in this respect, Kings College have a variety on offer with respect to Human Rights and International Law, which are very well thought of.

Mel said...

I'm not in possession of a 1st, but a very good 2.1 that may get me into the Cambridge LLM, but not the smaller BCL programme. This is a shame as I don't think the LLM at Cambridge is all that great, based on the experience of friends who have done it there. I sense they concentrate more on their undergrads (which is the reverse of my London school).

I ahdn't understood that the external option was for an LLM - I would almost certainly do an LLM full time. If I went on to Phd type things, that might be part time but I think I still need the supervision and face-time of a taught LLM programme.

I must say the prospect of spending a year at NYU is mighty attractive. The $50,000 price tag (plus living costs) is not!

Bar Boy said...

I'd agree with LM's comment about the external LLM being hard work. I have struggled through to an award of a pgdip and it is far from easy learning purely from the texts. One thing is for sure, it is a damn good way of testing whether you can really stick with an area of the law that you liked at undergrad level. It has certainly cured my previous fondness for equity !

Although the max time for completion is 5 years, any student that needs to study for the whole 5 years is a lost cause. I am not that dedicated and even I have managed two and one-half modules in 18 months.

I suspect everyone has their prejudices with these things, but I would venture that, if the BCL is not an option, give Oxbridge a miss and look instead at UCL or KCL.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to go of topic, but I was wondering if I could ask some questions about the NY bar.

1. After qualifying are you now able to practise in the states, immediately or do you need to do some kind of TC/Pupillage equivilent.

2. Is there a time limit after doing the qualification by which time you must have practised?

3. Do you need a visa sponsor as a Brit to work there?

4. You mentioned the course you did was mainly DVDs etc, does this mean the course held in London by BarBri is the same?

5. When you took the exam was it the level you expected or harder?



Swiss Tony said...


If I said 'Go out and get a job' you would probably take it the wrong way, so I will word it slightly differently.

When you are applying for the elusive Pupillage, don't you think that relevant work experience will boost your already suitable academic qualifications?

Rather than too much academia, or too much experience and few qualifications, even them out and study the LLM part time while doing a job that will help get you into the field you want. Best of both worlds.

Although my own career is completely different to the bar, I am not qualified to do it, but have 20+ years experience. No-one has ever asked me about qualifications, just whether I can do the job. I am also 'in demand' for my skills. My GCSE in woodwork counts for nothing anymore!


Mel said...


I'm constantly being told to go get a job by my solicitor friends! And my own sub-conscious, indeed.

I'm no good at part-time studying/ juggling. What I am good at is concentrating on one thing at a time, to the exclusion of everything else. I hope that kind of focus will be useful at the Bar, working on one project to the next, but I don't see it working for mixing work and study.

Indeed, I'm not sure what kind of work I could do that would be related? Paralegalling? Hopefully I'll be doing some of that this year? Research? Hard to come by.

You make an excellent point - about getting the balance of experience and qualifications, but I'm not sure that I could get high quality experience and qualifications done at the same time.

What I would rather do is do the LLM and then if necessary get some more work experience then. Funding myself for the LLM isn't that big a hurdle, I was more concerned over funding for a Phd.

What work are you in, Swiss? I can't imagine what it could be because I've been using my woodwork skills EVERY day! :P Clearly it's a crucial everyday skill!


Bar Boy said...

M, why cannot you juggle part time work/study ?

I thought girls were meant to be good at multi tasking. I am only a feeble male and, yet, I can manage.

Mind you, I'm still struggling with the concept of walking and farting at the same time. Swiss has promised to give me some lessons, along with how to do a top notch tenon joint.

Mel said...

I know, I'm good at multi-tasking on some things (filing of nails/ yaking on phone/ watching tv etc :P) but I find it hard if I'm working to go home and be productive. Which means that I can barely manage to get life admin sorted- paying of bills, buying of food, and the rest - let alone going home to study. I'm not sure how people do it!

I did work part-time in my final year of uni, and did very well, but that was whilst living in halls (so little life admin/distractions) and it was a meaningless retail job - didn't really require more juggling than turning up!

What is a tenon joint?!

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