Middlesbrough College and Old Court Chambers have raised the bar for young people looking to get a head start in the legal sector.
Students at MC6 – the college’s sixth form – have been gaining first-hand experience of life as a barrister thanks to a mini-pupillages.
Sixth form students studying A Level law or BTEC Applied Law at the college are invited to join practicing barristers as they attend court, meet clients and solve complex legal issues.
They spend time shadowing a member of the local Criminal Bar – experiencing trials from the perspective of the prosecution one day and the defence on another.
Christopher Wood, a barrister at Old Court Chambers and research fellow at Northumbria University, leads some of the mini pupillages.
He said: “Students who are going on to take the bar course are expected to have at least three mini pupillages on their CVs.
“The partnership with Middlesbrough College is about giving students the opportunity to apply to Old Court Chambers and, if they’re successful, the chance to gain valuable insights they can draw on in their learning.
“We like to make sure students experience the full range of activities that barristers do – from meeting clients to representing them in court.
Former Middlesbrough College student Uthman El-Dharrat completed the mini law pupillage in March 2016, and is now studying law at university.
He said: “I learned and saw so much throughout the pupillage. From seeing the barristers in the court robing room to being in a hearing was great experience.
“It showed me how the court and its judges function.”
Uthman, 21, from Middlesbrough, noted such schemes are normally targeted at university-stage students, and beyond.
“The barristers I met throughout the week were surprised to learn I was an A Level student – most presumed I was at university.
“Now I’m at university and applying for other pupillages the experience has really given me the edge.”
Rachel Stainthorpe, director of programmes at MC6, said: “Work experience is so important for young people with aspirations to forge a career in law.
“Our mini law pupillage is designed to give students just that, and, as one of the only such schemes in the area, we’re really proud of how it has helped our learners on their career paths.
“Being a barrister is a competitive, challenging and rewarding career. The profession prides itself on its high levels of professionalism and ethical practices.”