Number of places: 120 FT
Pro: has the only FRU outside of London
Con: competitive entry
Nottingham is a consistently popular choice for aspiring barristers. A top-notch Bar course and city centre location make this a highly sought-after destination for students across the country and a steadily increasing number of internationals. As such, Nottingham can afford to be selective, and prospective candidates must show potential for a career at the Bar. This means most successful applicants will hold a 2:1 up their sleeve, while those with a 2:2 will need to show off additional evidence of achievement through awards or work experience. All applicants are expected to demonstrate commitment to the profession and an aptitude for advocacy, while it's also advisable to put Nottingham as your first-choice provider. Five scholarships worth £2,000 are on offer, as is a loyalty discount for former Notts undergrads.
The course consists of seven realistic briefs (three civil and four criminal) that students take on from start to finish to see how a case may progress in practice. These are supplemented by additional lectures and small group sessions, while knowledge and skills areas – which amount to roughly 60% of the BPTC – are taught and learned as the case studies progress. Teaching is conducted over four days each week, and there are no more 12 students in classes for written skills and no more than six students in advocacy classes. There are seven elective modules on offer: advanced crime, advanced civil, commercial, family, employment, immigration, and landlord and tenant.
To give students a better flavour for a career at the Bar, they are expected to wear suits and dress smartly when participating in advocacy or conferencing sessions to replicate real-life situations. All students have a one-to-one feedback session with a tutor prior to each skills assessment, which, wherever possible, are set in a practical context. For example, actors are utilised to provide a realistic experience of examinations and the questioning and advising of clients. Students can also anticipate performing a chambers application before a district judge, who will interject with questions. Nottingham's BPTC is written by former practitioners in conjunction with judges, practising barristers and senior academics. Practitioners and judges assist with the delivery of the course as guest speakers and in practitioner workshops.
The law school was redeveloped in 2011, and students have access to mock courtrooms, moot rooms and top-of-the-range teaching facilities. Nottingham Trent University itself is currently undergoing a major expansion programme that will see brand-new student accommodation and a new student union built. All starters from September 2013 will be provided with an iPad as part of their teaching package. All course materials can be downloaded onto it, and students are allowed to keep it once the course is completed.
A dedicated careers and recruitment service is on hand to offer support and guidance during the search for a pupillage. A pupillage interview training day is organised before the course begins and subsequent trial interviews can also be sought throughout the year. Local chambers offer their support to the course by giving a number of presentations relevant to a life at the Bar, offering opportunities for mini-pupillages or by giving advice on CVs. Further to this, there are increasing opportunities for students to marshal a judge.
If you would like to dip your toe into the pro bono water then Nottingham houses the only Free Representation Unit (FRU) outside of London, and also runs an Innocence Project. To really show off some skills, there are two set-sponsored mooting competitions – one civil, one criminal – that students can participate in, and if after taking advantage of all these opportunities your CV is still looking a little sparse, then an LLM in Legal Practice can also be pursued.