Article written By Ella Bromwich
For all aspiring lawyers and barristers, the journey to becoming a fully-fledged legal professional is quite a lengthy one, and rarely direct. Depending on an individual’s career preference a subsequent qualification in the form of the SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Exam) for aspiring lawyers, or, alternatively, the BTC (Bar Training Course) for budding barristers is necessary.
Often, legal career decisions can be daunting and appear irreversible, particularly for first-generation students, and those from underrepresented backgrounds. Therefore, while positive progress is being made within the legal sector to create greater inclusivity, it is important that the foundations of those careers can also flourish from the outset.
The BPP University Law School is now leading the charge in ‘bridging’ the gap between undergraduate degrees and legal training. Freshly launched in Winter 2021, BPP has so far collaborated with eight universities, Birkbeck, Essex, LSE, Leicester, Lancaster, Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London, and Royal Holloway, to offer the Bridge Programme to final year undergraduate students. Not only will the programme enlighten students on the chronology of such a career within the law, but workshops and masterclasses aimed at arming students with the knowledge and expertise required to make informed decisions about their future within the law will also be provided.
The free bridge course provides online modules in varying forms, that can be completed at the student’s pace. Aspiring barristers will participate in a virtual mini pupillage and advocacy masterclass, while prospective solicitors will complete a virtual vacation scheme, as well as introductions to various sectors of the legal profession. Students will also be taught the valuable skills required to demonstrate their legal prowess while navigating the maze that is the application and interview process on route to becoming a trainee.
Students who complete at least 50% of the Bridge Course will be considered for award of a BPP scholarship by way of fee reduction against BPP’s Law Foundation Course, LPC (Legal Practice Course), SQE (Solicitor’s Qualifying Exam), BTC (Bar Training Course), or relevant Master’s programmes.
Candidates will also be eligible to receive one of the Social Mobility scholarships awarded by each of the partnering universities. One award of £5000 will be available, as well as up to three subsequent awards to the value of £2000. All students who successfully complete the course will receive a completion certificate.
Dr Nigel Spencer, Professor of Educational Innovation at Queen Mary University of London, stated:
‘I see BPP’s Bridge programme as a great platform for our students to use as they clarify their career thinking and plan their next steps. At their own pace, they can work through modules which give guidance on the skills employers seek, offer practical exercises in virtual vacation schemes, or simulated mini pupillages, build their communication skills, and help them to learn about key topics for the future such as the use of technology in legal practice.
Overall, this development within legal education opportunities will arm all participating students with an equal opportunity to explore a career within the law.