Thursday, 28 May 2015

Bar Schools Out For Summer.....

(I hope that anyone reading this post sang 'Bar Schools Out For Summer' to the Alice Cooper tune!)

So I officially completed all of my first years exams at Bar School, last Friday. I bet you are thinking that I must be relieved??? I have been looking forward to this moment for so long! In fact I have pictured it for what feels like forever! I imagined sitting on a tropical beach with a cocktail in one hand and a book that has no mention of the law in the other. It looks like I will have to hold that thought for another year.

I have not had a break from my legal studies for at least 3 years as I studied my LLB as a 2 year intensive course. This saved me adding another £9,000 course fees to my student debt, which is brilliant. However, it also meant that I had to work through the traditional university summer breaks (June-August)! By the time I handed in my dissertation on the 14 August 2014 I had less than a month to make the final preparations to organise myself and my last minute paperwork ready for the Bar Course (BPTC) in London. So it is safe to say that I am starting to feel like I am in need of a break. In fact I would welcome a holiday! (Feel free to send me any unwanted holiday tickets.)

Dreaming of a holiday? Don't be so silly! I can not afford a holiday! I have £8,500 to find by September 2015 to pay my second year of Bar School's course fees. What this also means is I do not have time to relax and put my feet up! So after 3 years of working hard without a break while juggling my legal studies, pro bono, part time paid employment and three children, I must now maintain my motivation and spend my first week of my summer vacation..........applying for full time jobs with salaries that will stretch to covering both my bills and my tuition fees! With only 14 weeks until I return to Bar School, time really is money! Oh and yes the stress of next years fees is really that bad that I have to count how many weeks I have remaining when my first week of vacation has only just passed. Oh how my summer would have been spent differently if I had of secured a scholarship with my Inn. Lazy picnics with the children, jogging around country lanes and cocktails on the beach. Ok, now I have come to terms with the fact that that is just a fantasy I must focus back on how I am going to pay my BPTC fees. After all I have come too far to fail at this small but expensive hurdle!

Thankfully last summer,somewhere in-between sitting my final year LLB exams and drafting my 10,000 word dissertation I found the time to apply for additional scholarships at City Law School. This lead to me being awarded The Rosie Keane Memorial Scholarship worth £5,000 off my course fees. This was a huge help. In fact if I had not received it I genuinely do not think I would have afforded my first years course fees of £8,500. So despite the fact of being disappointed that I can not embrace my well deserved summer vacation, part of me knows that I am actually fortunate to be in the position of worrying about my second years tuition fees.

So it looks like I will be putting off the cocktails on a tropical island for another year and spending the next few weeks completing job applications and hopefully working full time for the next few months. In fact I may have to continue full time work during my second year as the expenses build up pretty quickly. If £17,000 course fees for a 9 month full time course or 21 month part time is not already extravagant, I also have household bills, everyday expenses from the children's school trips and dinner money etc, train travel to London twice a week, the cost of attending networking events and one off lecture evenings etc, dinning sessions at my Inn of court, new work clothing or clothing for evening events and a hefty coffee bill to keep me going. Thankfully the coffee bill has been reduced thanks to my friend informing me about free coffee as Waitrose (as discussed in one of my previous blogs).

Thankfully I am a optimist instead of a pessimist and can see that in the long run working throughout the summer break will give me better standing for pupillage applications. I just have to keep thinking of the extra skills and experience that I will gain in employment, that I may not have achieved if I had received a full fee scholarship! Thankfully there are currently quite a few law related job vacancies advertised which means I should be able to kill two birds with one stone. I am currently applying for Case Handler, Paralegal and some civil service opportunities. So fingers crossed I will have some success in the coming weeks and continue to build on my legal skills, while raising September's fees. 

Watch this space for an update on my success.....or my depressing failings lol

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