It’s nearly the end of January and Term Two of the the BPTC is well underway. Whilst chaos ensues over in Westminster, a little way down the River Thames, in the idyllic setting of Gray’s Inn, my peers and I soldier on as we prepare for a much more important deadline – pupillage applications.
My entire human existence now seems to revolve around the Pupillage Gateway. The application portal that will determine my fate is almost like the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, except instead of selecting one of four equally exciting outcomes, there are only two: Success or Failure.
On that cheery note, here’s a bit of an update!
“It’s no secret that the both of us are running out of time…“
I named this post Expectations vs Reality because my life at the moment appears to be a big game of it. What I expect (and hope) to be able to get done vs inevitably what I am actually able to get done. The latter is usually (always) far less than I’d hoped.
Due to the fact that there is more for me to do each day than is actually possible, I have radically shifted my understanding of what is or isn’t achievable within a single 24 hour period. Every moment counts and I am militant about how I structure my day. If I don’t keep a watchful eye on how I chop up my time day to day and week to week I won’t even be able to keep track of what I may or may not have missed.
A critical piece of advice for the BPTC – you are probably going to come onto the course with a rough idea of how much work you can get done in a week or maybe even a single day. By the end of this course you will know precisely what you are able to do in 15 minutes going up to what you can achieve in 30 minute intervals.
That for me is precisely the difference between this course and academic study. At University deadlines come with months or weeks to prepare. You can see them coming. You can leave it to the last minute if you so wish. However, on the BPTC you are learning how to work in a profession where your time will really be money. It’s strange to get used to it, but you won’t be working on your own time anymore. In my view, the moment you are able to get out of that mindset you’ve conquered the trickiest part of the BPTC.
“Turn up the lights baby, you don’t have to hide your imperfections“
Part of why the BPTC is particularly savage is because you can’t disguise being under-prepared. If you arrive to class without a hard copy of your draft or your submissions for the application before the judge then there’s no point being there. In many ways the BPTC shines a bright (and extremely revealing) light onto the most important thing: your work. In some classes that is literally what happens as a hard copy of your work is displayed to the whole class for feedback. In some others it is more metaphorical as you stand before your tutor and the entire class to deliver your advocacy, receiving feedback from both. If at university you could keep your head down and hide your lack of acquaintance with the reading list from the tutor, on this course there’s no chance.
It’s this part of the course that I find the most painful and also the most rewarding. I have been collecting every scrap of feedback and now the next step is learning how to apply it all and get it down before the assessment. Taking the time out to practice and go over things twice is my biggest challenge because of the impending deadline. But once I find a way as usual I’ll run here to share my secrets!
“Father, this prayer is for everyone that feels they’re not good enough”
It makes me cringe to say this, but a huge weight on my mind right now is the worry that I’m going to go through all of this effort only to find that I am not good enough to be a barrister. It’s a fear that I have mostly staved away, but now I’m facing the scrutiny of around 16 different pupillage panels, I’m stressed out.
I grew up in the Musical Theatre so I’ve have spent a lot of my life in front of an audience. There is this thought that I always used to get before the music started – “what if I forget my words?“. You don’t have time to try to remember them because you’re listening for your cue. In that moment you can only rely on the work that you’ve done and the practice that you’d put in. Then you count, take a deep breath, open your diaphragm and sing. You know in that moment if you pitched it perfectly (hopefully you have) and then the performance is underway. The pressure is off and all that’s left to do is enjoy the rest of the song.
Sat in my bedroom, eyes straining at the screen as I work my way through application forms, I miss the relief after you take a deep breath and sing. You have that moment and that moment alone to get it right – there’s only one performance that counts. On the BPTC however, every moment counts. Nothing rides on one particular moment or performance, but everything relies on everything else. I’m always performing, but there’s no moment of release when I know I’ve smashed it and can sit back and relax.
Until all is said and done at the end of March (Pupillage) and May (BPTC results) I can’t really know how I’m doing. In the meantime, I continue to work hard and congratulate myself on the small victories such as getting a mock draft completed within the allocated 3.5 hours (!) and getting to the gym today even though I felt rubbish.
New content is coming…I promise
I am so sorry for the drought on the website and on my social media channels. It’s been difficult recently for me to find the time to write and to edit and publish video content. I know that as much as I love producing content, I can’t push it too far. As soon as it’s feasible there will be another edition of Legal Tea with B as well as new videos on my vlog with LawCareers.Net.
I’ll be back soon, but if you miss me tweet me! Until next time,