Kevin Farquharson graduated from the University of Birmingham GDL programme in 2010 and is currently studying the Bar Professional Training Course at the College of Law in Birmingham. Kevin was awarded the Queen Mother 'Outstanding Candidates' scholarship from the Middle Temple for his BPTC year.
Title: Kevin Farquharson, Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies 2009-10
I chose to study the GDLS at Birmingham because as someone aspiring to practice at the Bar it was very important to me that I studied at a top tier university. At the time and I understand it still now Birmingham was the highest ranked academic institution providing the GDLS. So on that basis I arranged to come to an open day, had a look around the facilities, which I was very, very impressed with, had a chat with the lecturers again very impressed with the information that they provided me, and after having looked at a couple of other institutions, it was a simple choice to be honest.
I don’t think there was a day genuinely that I walked from where I parked my car to the University where I wasn’t actually filled with pride when I came onto this particular part of the campus in front of the Aston Webb building because its just an absolutely stunning place to come on a daily basis, it’s a great, great setting to be in.
The Harding Law Library just immense. I was completely blown away by it. The only other Law Library that I’d seen that may have been slightly more impressive was the Middle Temples Library but the Harding competes well I think with any Law Library I’ve ever seen. So that was extremely important and obviously the fact that we get access to all the legal databases that we need that costs thousands and thousands of pounds for anyone who wanted to access that, that comes with being at the University. So everything really is in place here.
I think everyone’s got their favourite lecturers and their favourite styles. I think there are a large group certainly that teach on the GDLS that are of a fantastic quality, really extremely high quality, world class. It always excited me when I’d be reading books and the names of my lecturer would be in the books I never got bored of that it happened quite a lot which is a great thing and it kind of fills you with confidence that you’re being taught to a high standard and you were aware that you were expected to work hard, to develop a high level of legal knowledge.
On my first Moot I did a lot of research. I covered about 300 years worth of law of research. Went in there with a little bit too much information, didn’t have a script, which you shouldn’t have, but at the same time I could have been doing with a little bit better structure to my delivery. So I didn’t do too great on the first one. Did eventually get to the semi-final of the postgraduate cup and was knocked out by the eventual winner. I think you develop an awareness of what’s required in a moot, you understand that when you have 10 – 15 – 20 minutes you need to set out the key vectors of your argument very succinctly and you develop that skill and I think the experience of mooting for certainly anyone who is interested in doing advocacy its an absolute must, an absolute must and I’m really, really glad that I did it and I was glad that I got back on the horse quickly after the first one. What it’s taught me has been really, really invaluable with regards to being able to get through a quite a lot of information quite quickly and extrapolate the salient elements of that and put it into an argument that’s basically what a barrister does on a daily basis and certainly anyone who is aspiring to the Bar who comes to Birmingham should make the most of the Mooting opportunities that are here.
As a course, to be able to get such a good legal qualification in such a short space of time is a good thing to have on anybody’s CV so even if they are unsure but they are looking to strengthen their CV I think it’s a great course to come on just for that. What I would say, a small caveat is that they need to be aware that it’s a lot of work, its hard work this course, make no mistakes about it. I would recommend that people do the pre-reading they’re asked to do, they do the court visits they’re asked to do before they come here, they come here as prepared as they can possible be and they hit the ground running from their first day.
I think what was of real benefit in terms of myself and the two other students who were aspiring to go to the Bar was the talks that we got from people in the profession and from chambers and certainly I made a very good contact through one of the lecturers here he put me in touch with a barrister locally and said you can get in touch with this chap via email and arrange to go an see him. I made the most of that and went and seen this barrister and got some very good information. And incidentally he said the same thing about Birmingham he said it’s great you’re at the University of Birmingham because it’s a very highly respected institution within the legal profession.