Emma Cross (Law and MA International and Human Rights Law)
Bar Professional Training Course student and Paralegal
I come from a low income family in Cornwall and was the first in my family to go to university. I’ve always had to work to support myself through my studies and was lucky to get scholarships and bursaries too.
I knew I wanted to be a barrister before I started university and my studies at Exeter confirmed that. There’s no direct route into the Bar – there are so many ways you can get there, going straight from University is just one path.
I’m doing the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) alongside working as a paralegal at Bond Dickinson LLP in Plymouth. The part-time BPTC lasts 2 years and I’m applying for Pupillage for 2017 so you do have to plan in advance. Online applications are made through the Pupillage Gateway. You can access the site to browse vacancies from 28 November 2016 and the submissions gateway opens on 7 January 2017. Vacancies for chambers that do not recruit for the Gateway can be live at any point in the year.
Geography isn’t a barrier to becoming a barrister. If you like working in a big place with lots of hustle and bustle, London is for you but I work better in smaller communities where you can get to know your colleagues and clients. Being by the sea and the quality of life are added bonuses. I love working in the South West and it’s where I see myself in the future.
Doing a Masters degree helped me to feel confident and prepare for the Bar. I went to the UN in Geneva and the NATO School in Germany during the course. Seeing the different public speaking techniques used was fascinating. I never imagined that was what I’d be doing – it was an amazing experience.
I’m motivated by social commitment. I enjoy supporting others who would otherwise struggle by themselves. In law I feel I am contributing to a really important process which many clients are worried by – helping to guide them through it by providing objective legal representation is a huge privilege.
The careers team at Exeter is fantastic and has so much knowledge. They helped me as a student and I’m still getting support now as a graduate. Exeter is really good at getting experts in to come in and talk to students. It’s all designed to make you a graduate with the core skills employers look for. That’s a large part of what makes Exeter graduates so attractive.
As an undergraduate I made sure I didn't just live in the library – going to talks, getting involved in mooting, pro bono and University societies is also important.
Keep confidence in yourself. It is competitive out there but if you have motivation and drive you will succeed. Keep pushing and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.