Number of places: 120 FT
Nottingham Law School remains a highly desirable destination for BPTC students, who flock to the banks of the River Trent from across the country and further afield, as the school attracts a growing international contingent (around 14% of the cohort). Sources said that “our numbers have gone up exponentially for the year ahead – we’ve got some very good students applying.”
With so much interest the school can afford to be selective and demands high standards from candidates, who must have a “fighting chance of getting a pupillage” to even make it through the doors. This generally means a minimum 2:1 at degree, a forte for advocacy and a commitment to the Bar, so ask yourself: have you got mooting or mock trial experience and a handful of mini-pupillages/other legal work experience under your belt? You also would be doing yourself a favour by putting Nottingham down as a first or second choice on the application form. Five scholarships worth £2,000 each are up for grabs, and there’s a loyalty discount for former students.
Teaching is delivered to small groups of 12 students, but the number decreases to six when it comes to advocacy and conferencing. Students take a set of civil and criminal briefs “from cradle to grave,” from interim applications right through to trial, mimicking the progress of a case in practice. Wearing suits and dressing smartly when participating in advocacy or conferencing exercises is an “absolute requirement,” and adds to the authentic feel of the programme. Online resources include conference demonstrations, as well as a civil and criminal advocacy video library, where students watch excerpts of their peers' adversarial prowess. The law school comes complete with a new mock courtroom and specialist mooting rooms –“we’ve recently moved into the building that houses these rooms, so we very much sit on top of the resources.”
The daily timetable varies week in, week out, although students will be in class Monday to Thursday with Fridays kept free for class preparation, mooting, pro bono or work experience. Sources added that: “We’re trialling a more patterned timetable, so students will have absolute certainty as to when they will need to attend in advance.” Popular options include advanced criminal litigation and family, but students tend to remain wary of landlord and tenant: “Most students can’t divorce it from their notion of property law.”
Nottingham houses the only Free Representation Unit (FRU) outside the capital and recently set up an Innocence Project, all of which are fiercely popular among students interested in pro bono work. The school is also in the process of expanding its pro bono unit, and there are two set-sponsored mooting competitions – one civil, one criminal – for students to get stuck into. A pupillage interview training day is organised before the course begins, and barristers from local chambers review CVs, undertake mock interviews and provide feedback to students. Subsequently, on hand to provide support throughout the year is the university careers service (including dedicated BPTC advisors), as well as BPTC staff and personal tutors.
Nottingham has a high “pupillage success rate,” with 42% of students (out of 84% who responded) gaining a pupillage in 2010: “It’s self-perpetuating – if you have students getting pupillages at all four points of the compass, then it has a positive impact on future students who attend the school.”
Escaping the serious nature of the course itself, the law school has an active social scene including welcome drinks with local barristers, a formal dinner in February and a guest speaker programme.
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