Miroslava Dimitrova is a Legal Solutions Specialist at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, who undertook the Bar Professional Training Course.
Our partners at Simply Law Jobs recently caught up with Miroslava, who kindly shared with them an overview of what it was like to complete the course, advice for those also looking to take it and details of what she did on an average study day.
I was born and raised in a corrupt country where the notion of justice is long forgotten as people’s freedom can easily be bought. As such I was naturally attracted to pursuing a career in law.
Growing up, I was always interested in reading books and watching documentaries exploring the criminal mind and trying to understand the issues surrounding criminality. That was one of the reasons why I decided to do a joint honours degree in Law and Criminology.
This allowed me not only to study and gain a better understanding of the English legal system but also research the theoretical motivations of criminals as well as their personal experiences and the impact the Criminal Justice System has had upon their lives.
Having been fortunate enough to gain invaluable experience working for the Cardiff Innocence Project, I realised that everyone deserves a legal representation and a fair trial regardless of the crime they have committed as often there are underlying complex socio-economic issues involved, acting as the driving force for committing a crime.
As such, I want to be the person that makes a difference at the lowest point of someone’s life where their freedom is at stake. I want to be in the courtroom pleading my client’s innocence or mitigating on his behalf, doing the best I can to help someone in need.
I utterly enjoyed preparing for my advocacy classes, in particular, preparing a cross examination in criminal cases. This was the time when I could bring my case theory to life, practicing the art of persuasion, thinking on my feet and handling unpredictable witnesses – doing all the things a barrister does.
Advocacy classes allowed me to improve my public speaking skills, gain confidence, practice patience and start the development of my own style of advocacy.
Yes, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and lockdown was introduced, I was in the middle of my examination period. This was an extremely stressful and frustrating time for everyone in my cohort as there was a delay and uncertainty regarding the way our assessments were going to be conducted.
I found it particularly hard to do my advocacy assessments online as you are primarily relying on body language and facial expressions to read the witness you are questioning or the judge in front of which you are presenting your arguments.
Doing all of this through a camera where you are unable to really read your witness and a number of technical difficulties may occur at any moment, makes the task difficult and the experience stressful.
On top of that my BSB-centralised litigation and ethics assessments were postponed and took place in August 2020 instead of April 2020. Although this allowed for more revision time, the stress surrounding the strict manner in which the assessments were to be conducted as well as unfortunate personal circumstance negatively affected my overall grade.
The ultimate goal is to secure pupillage and manage a successful criminal practice. In the meantime, I will be working as a paralegal, trying to get as much practical legal experience as I can, learning more about different areas of law and the legal market.
I am also volunteering with as many legal charities and organisation as I can which are providing support to people who represent themselves in court and just try and give back to the community.
Prepare as much as you can for the BPTC before you actually start the course. What I mean by that is understanding what is required of you and setting yourself realistic goals. The transition from LLB to BPTC would be challenging.
Preparation for workshops beforehand is essential and it requires significantly more time than what you would normally spend on a seminar/tutorial preparation during your LLB. The course is demanding but it is an amazing experience at the same time.
It encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and practice advocacy every single day. There will be times where you will be doubting yourself, wondering if you are good enough to succeed in the profession. However, it is important to remember that not everyone’s journey to the Bar is alike.
We all have different experiences and bring different qualities to the profession and that is what makes it exceptional. Be prepared to turn that constructive feedback into a strength.