A commitment to work experience and developing her CV has paid off for aspiring criminal barrister, Beatrice Fatungase, who’s been awarded a £14k scholarship by The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.
Beatrice has always wanted to be a barrister and says it’s the only job she could see herself doing and enjoying. She could hardly believe it when she heard she had secured a Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Scholarship from Middle Temple (one of four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to Call their members to the Bar of England and Wales). Beatrice said: ‘I was in disbelief because I knew how many people applied and the likelihood of getting one was most likely slim.’
The scholarship awarded to Beatrice is one of only three given to candidates deemed specially deserving of financial assistance. Interview criteria includes an assessment of character and ability to overcome adversity.
During her virtual interview with three Queen’s Counsel, Beatrice was able to reflect on the benefits of a mini-pupillage that she had undertaken at the High Court of Justice in London. She was also asked for her thoughts on the suspension of jury trials due to COVID-19, the resultant backlog in courts, and her opinion on a scenario in which a defendant refused for his case to only be tried by a judge.
The experience of mooting at Kent helped give Beatrice the confidence to tackle her interview questions: ‘Mooting is an absolute must because it highlights the skills a barrister needs. It definitely helped with my interview, because the judges I had were barristers who knew the law very well. Consequently, the answers needed to be clear and show an understanding of the topic area that was being discussed. Mooting forced me to think about the answers that I was being asked before speaking, a skill that was essential for the interview.’
Beatrice, who has just completed her Law LLB at Kent, believes legal work experience is very important: ‘I did various work experiences which allowed me to be able to identify the skills needed to be a barrister. It will show you whether this is the career path you want to embark on. It also enables you to get practical advice from people who have done everything you will do and allows you to better prepare for the future.’
Beatrice also benefitted from participation in Kent Law School’s Academic Coaching for Excellence (ACE) programme during her studies. She was one of a small group of less than 40 students selected for the programme that is run by Student Success Project Manager Sheree Palmer.
Sheree said: ‘ACE provides a working relationship with an academic who is an ACE coach functioning as a supportive, non-judgemental, critical friend providing a degree of academic and professional guidance. ACE aims to support students to engage fully with the academic working environment, to utilise strategies for learning; to increase their engagement with the Law School and the University, and ultimately to raise attainment and improve progression rates into graduate-level employment or postgraduate study.’
Sheree, and her coach – Kent Law School Lecturer Dr Will Mbioh – were delighted to hear Beatrice’s news: ‘We are hugely proud of Beatrice for her achievements which she has attained through consistent drive and determination and a readiness to engage fully with her degree course and the Law School – whether in her seminar reading and active contributions, through interactions with seminar leaders and her ACE coach, and through participation in employability, work experience and extra-curricular events from the first year. Beatrice has been a delight to work with and we will watch her future achievements with great interest.’
Beatrice will begin her Barrister Training Course at BPP Law School later this year and hopes to specialise in criminal law. She urges fellow aspiring barristers to make the most of any work experience opportunity: ‘Before you embark on your work experience, make a note of what you think the experience will be like and things you hope to learn. During the experience, make a note of what happens each day and anything that stands out to you (try and see if you can identify important skills a barrister will need). After the work experience review your thoughts before the experience and note any changes (if there are any). Also, try and compare it to other work experience and note any similarities or differences and aim to link it back to the criteria of a barrister.’