Number of places: 100 FT, 24 PT
Pro: the Student Law Office
Northumbria University boasts the largest law school in the North East and students are drawn to the £70m purpose-built campus complete with state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities. Its location in Newcastle's city centre also means you should never be too far from a boozer if you need some time to let your hair down. The majority of BPTC students at Northumbria come from the region, but there's a decent international presence alongside them. However, with the teaching sessions involving a high degree of interaction, international students are expected to be fluent in both written and oral English, so will need to possess at least a 7.5 IELTS score.
Full-timers usually attend four days a week, with Friday left free for research, self-study or professional development opportunities. The part-time programme follows a flexible day release pattern and students can choose which day – either Monday, Tuesday or Thursday – they wish to attend. All subjects and skills are taught through practical sessions in which students work on case studies and carry out a range of tasks which replicate the demands of pupillage. Skills are taught in small group sessions, while evidence, criminal litigation and civil litigation are taught as discrete subjects, as well as being integrated with the main skill areas. Regular talks delivered by senior practitioners and judges are also worked into the timetable. The teaching staff are predominantly drawn from experienced barristers, many of whom are still practising in the region. A unique part of the course at Northumbria is the opportunity to get involved with the Student Law Office (SLO) at the option stage of the BPTC. Under the close supervision of a practitioner member of staff, students in the SLO provide pro bono legal services for members of the public. They can advise clients, take on cases, research and prepare for trials, and even represent clients at court and tribunals.
The school takes a keen interest in its students and looks to support them every step of the way in their quest for pupillages. Each student is assigned a personal guidance tutor whom they can regularly meet for information or advice. The careers service is on hand to organise networking events with local chambers and practitioners (each year the school hosts a number of dinners and social evenings) as well as group marshalling and a mentoring scheme with alumni. Mock pupillage interviews and a CV workshop upon induction are also in place to improve employability. The law school's 'Grey Society' organises mock trials and mooting competitions, as well as social activities such as pub crawls when a bit of liquid relief is required.
Northumbria provides the opportunity to study a four-year exempting law degree – something only a handful of providers nationwide offer – that incorporates the academic LLB and professional BPTC, great for those who know early on that the Bar is the career path for them. BPTC students can also study for a top-up LLM in Advanced Legal Practice once the course has concluded, or there's even the opportunity to undertake it simultaneously with the BPTC over a two-year stretch.