It may be a bit of a cliché, but I always knew I wanted to become a barrister. It was clear in my mind that one day I would wear a wig and gown and count myself as a member of the Bar. Every professional and academic choice I made was focused on achieving that goal. I planned my career as if it could be organised and scheduled like a journey in a car. When I completed pupillage, it was a time of happiness but also self-reflection. What kind of a barrister should I be? Following this, I decided to embrace a different kind of legal career.
After qualifying as a self-employed barrister, I joined the ranks of the Employed Bar at the Government Legal Department. Approximately 18% of barristers work at the Employed Bar. We are a diverse group of lawyers covering a number of different institutions, such as law firms, banks, the Crown Prosecution Service and regulatory bodies. I greatly value the guidance and support I received during pupillage and these experiences form the foundation of my legal skills. My new role has allowed me to develop these skills in a position focused on public service, governance and the administration of justice.
When I speak to young people at law fairs, they often have very concrete ideas about their careers. Many of them do not seem to realise that there are many ways to achieve your professional goals. Each pathway can be equally rewarding, but success depends on what you are looking for from your job. It also requires you to analyse and examine the reasons for your choices in life. I believe that barristers of all backgrounds should be willing to ask themselves the question “what should I do with my life?”
My own life has shown me that seizing opportunities can lead to a life bursting with new and exciting possibilities. I believe that adapting your career as your wants and needs change is something to be embraced. I am not saying it is wrong to have a life plan. On the contrary, this is a very good thing and can keep you focused. But if the answer to the question, “what should I do with my life?” starts to change, don’t be afraid to try something different. When I started to learn about the legal profession, I focused on the traditional route to becoming a barrister. Despite that, I was willing to try new things and learnt the importance of treating my career as something dynamic that grows with me, as opposed to following a pre-set plan. I have always lived by the quote, “never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”
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