Getting into the legal landscape can be daunting especially for the uninitiated. Given the landscape of the bar is one foot in the 16th century and one in the 21st it can be easy get misled and confused. Within this section you will find the means to discover where you are and the path you could take.

Before getting into the traditional route, it is important to note that the journey to the bar can be a straight line but is often one of twists and turns, so do not be disheartened if you do not match the traditional route, it is just important to have knowledge of the options in order to save time. Also, the route provided is hypothetical and in places includes mention of less savoury realities that emerge from time to time in the bar, Aspiring Barristers Ltd brings attention to it as it is a realty for some but not everyone which must be stressed. This article is more an amalgamation then a single story, so bare that in mind. Further, Aspiring Barristers Ltd does not condone any actions which amount to cheating, academic offenses, illegal activity or destructive activities towards oneself including the consumption of legal medication that is not prescribed medication that acts as an enhancement.

We have a number of guides, articles, opportunities, events, and support to help you get into law be sure to check are relevant pages to find out more about how we can help you. Below is an idea of the traditional route to the bar to help you get an idea of what is involved.

Traditional Route:

A Levels

The traditional route is to get good A levels (or whatever equivalent is employed in the future) from at least one literature related A level and other subjects that are recognised as traditional these include but are not limited to Law, English, History, Physics, Biology, Language Courses, Physics, Chemistry. Many academies, comprehensives, grammars and private schools use the International Baccalaureate which encompasses 3 major subjects and 3 minors these tend to be comprehensive and meet the criteria. Whatever the A level, aim to do well, the better academically the easier the next step is.

Traditional University and League Tables

Once you have the A levels, hopefully A’s the next step is applying to university. After visiting the respective universities usually, a young hopeful will have settled upon Universities such as Cambridge or Oxford. With consideration given to London School of Economics, Kings College, Queen Mary’s, Lincoln University, Lancashire University, Durham University or Nottingham University (this is based on the Times Higher Education and tradition universities that produce barristers) most barristers tend to have some form of education from Oxford or Cambridge as certain sets clients make it a prerequisite. University picked apply to do Law as a major for three years.

Academic Scholarships, Competitions

Prior to attending university aim to leverage your nice grades to reduce the cost of the course and gain scholarships. The most valued at this stage are academic or those which demonstrate your professional skills.

At University

Once at your august university, immerse yourself exclusively within the law focusing on education above all else. Aim to get consistent firsts, develop your academic knowledge, compete in as many mooting competitions as possible and win them. Compete in as many legal essay competitions and win them. Attend as many networking events organised by your law school and aim to pick up a few minipupillages. In addition, apply for an inn in your second year of university in order to get a step up on the competition by attending inn events. This is your time to craft your future career so it is best to focus.

Post Undergraduate

During your final year apply for pupillage at a number of sets highlighting your stellar academic record from a Russel Group University for Law and history of performing well in legal competitions. Your first from Oxford will likely land you the interview in most chambers so just ace the interview.

At terms end join an inn if not done so already and be enrolled at a bar school if not done so already. Most enrol at City Law School followed by University of Law and BPP University in London. With the outer circuit generally not considered.

You might have also noticed at this point you have developed a middle class mindset, have recognised the value of having a traditional name and traditional upbringing from a traditional background. These will all make the transition easier as you then prepare for the bar. Usually, you spend the first half of summer before the bar course going wild to make up for the past three years, for some this will involve excess for others a more modest celebration and relaxation.

In the second half of the summer you will already be leveraging the knowledge and connections you accumulated to get a jump on the competition ahead of the academic year at bar school. You will arrange accommodation incredibly close to the university to reduce stress in attending lessons whilst increasing opportunities.

Bar School

You will choose to spend the next year at bar school without hobbies, without a social life outside of bar school friends, infrequently see family and double down on academic studies as well as doing qualifying lessons occasionally. This is because by already having a pupillage you are financially secure and not in need of looking for pupillage so can really focus. If you have already developed a talent for the law, you might adopt one or more hobbies. You might have also developed an unhealthy relationship with unnatural enhancers (this is a hypothetical, something Aspiring Barristers Ltd does not condone and see explanation at end of article) and will use them to support studies. You will also utilise your network to assist your studies towards exams aware that this poses a risk but that it is widely done so as long as you are careful (again Aspiring Barristers Ltd does not condone this as it borderlines cheating which could cost a member their bar).

Post Bar School

Having finished bar school and secured a good result, you may choose to go straight to the bar or take a year out. Many pupillages are applied for 2 years in advance, this enables you to go and study a masters at Oxford or Cambridge if that is lacking from your resume and the chambers requires it. Otherwise, you might pursue personal interests. Many follow the academic route or go straight to working at the bar.

They then learn from their mentors, develop a work style, get an accountant and form groups. Life is not easy, and the bar school and academia does not adequately prepare you for the reality of work at the bar which is far less straightforward and regimented. In the years to come you either burn out from the bar or help to continue the system relying on help from close friendship groups, those in chambers and those at the inn. Some even continue their unhealthy habits or develop new ones (hypothetical). All whilst having significant wealth that you often lack the time to spend (hypothetical – especially if you got into criminal law).

A Caveat

Above is generally speaking the traditional route. I want to recognise that many who follow the traditional approach will have experienced most if not all of what is described above. Even those who follow a less conventional route will still be ring fenced into following a similar path if with unique hurdles.

Aspiring Barristers will in some cases have this traditional background and in other cases will not. For our present purposes Aspiring Barristers is here to help you to succeed and to help you do so in a way which is not destructive.


This article is meant to provide a hypothetical route, not all the information contained herein is intended to be an accurate depiction of a person’s route, nor should it be followed to the letter. At one point the matter of unnatural enhancers is discussed, this relates to the unfortunate increasing use of such drugs as students feel under pressure to succeed for family or others and use drugs such as Modafinil. It is also a well-documented occurrence in cultures where exams results are crucial to the future and as such if the bar continues in difficulty is likely to play a bigger role in the English Bar. It is hoped Aspiring Barristers Ltd will be able to prevent members from performing such destructive paths to success but shying away from it does not help to combat this increasing concern.