Number of places: 360 FT, 30-36 PT
Fees (2014/15): £17,500
City's BPTC used to be known as the Inns of Court Law School, a prestigious operator that trained four British prime ministers – Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Clement Atlee and Herbert Asquith – as well as Mahatma Gandhi and just about every 20th-century British barrister. The school might have lost its monopoly on training barristers back in 1997, but its prestige value remains. In exchange for the heftiest fees of any provider, it offers a location in the heart of legal London and an array of legal superstars popping back in to lecture, including retired High Court judge Dame Linda Dobbs and controversial Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling – history doesn't relate if he needed an armed escort.
Another bonus of the school is that your class lecturer may have literally written the book on the course areas – tutors are experienced practitioners and academics who've written many of the BPTC course manuals. Teaching is structured so that topics are introduced by lectures, then followed up by seminars in groups of 12. There are also two one-on-one advocacy classes, as well as student advocacy performances, lecture videos and course notes available on the school's intranet. Full-time students attend classes on three days a week. They get 12 hours of contact time, scheduled between 10.30am and 6pm to miss rush hour fare prices. Part-timers come in on two set evenings a week from 6-9pm.
There are electives in social security, advanced crime, commercial law, company, domestic violence, employment, family, fraud and economic crime, employment, landlord and tenant, and professional negligence.
City's barristers-in-waiting are ensconced right in the midst of some of the lawyerly lairs they'll hope to join. The school's lecture hall overlooks Gray's Inn Gardens, and you pass numerous other barristers' sets on the two-minute walk to the newly refurbished tutorial facilities.
The course's highly active student society gets a budget to organise regular moots and has sent teams to compete as far afield as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. There's also similarly international pro bono work, including a scheme where three students work on human rights issues over the summer in South Africa, and a death row appeal programme in conjunction with Amnesty.
City Law School is cagey about the proportion of its students that gain pupillages, pointing to the large and established quotient of overseas students. Still, although shelling out for the hefty course fees certainly won't guarantee anyone a pupillage, the school's established reputation means it won't hold back talented aspiring barristers either.
Help is at hand both from City University Law School's careers service and from a dedicated pupillage advice service staffed by teachers on the course, which offers one-to-one advice and mock interviews.
“The cost places expectations unrealistically high, so I can understand that some people feel frustrated by the number of hours. But overall it's a good course, and I thought the staff were mostly very motivated and committed to it.”
If prestige is what you're after, City's course has it by the yacht-load. It's pricey but in fact a few hundred pounds less than its chief rivals, BPP and University of Law.
City Law School, London
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