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BPTC wardrobe and accessory essentials

BPTC wardrobe and accessory essentials

Blessing Mukosha Park

27/09/2019

To ensure that you've got everything you need for the BPTC here is a list of essentials that you need to have sorted. Be ready for anything being a BPTC student throws at you by reading this post and preparing accordingly.  

Wheelie bag 

You may have figured this out by now if you have already started the course, but it is genuinely impossible to carry all of your BPTC books and folders in a bag unless you’re (almost) completely paperless. A wheelie bag will save your life (and shoulders) and it is worth investing in one. It doesn’t need to be any bigger than the standard hand luggage wheelie bag you’d take on a plane. If you can, get one with four wheels that can be wheeled sideways. This will be a great help to you when rushing between classes/the library/qualifying sessions as it’s really easy to move.  

(Multiple) Dark suits 

BPTC students spend a lot of their time in suits. As well as recorded advocacy assessments, various events and engagements require BPTC students to look sharp. If you currently only have one ‘good’ interview suit, don’t underestimate how quickly you’ll find yourself in need of a few more. 

Advocacy classes and assessments

You will need to wear a dark suit for your recorded advocacy assessments. This also includes your formal feedback assessments (where you get feedback on your advocacy performance). A great tip from Senior City BPTC Lecturer Snigdha Nag is to also wear a suit jacket to advocacy classes so that you can look and feel like a barrister. This is a great tip and so I recommend ensuring that you have a suit jacket that you can take in with you for advocacy classes. You might feel a bit silly, but it will help you get into the zone. 

I had a good number of friends and colleagues on the course who would wear suits/smart workwear to Bar school whenever they went in. I thought this was a great idea because (as I have previously stated in other blog posts) the BPTC is a professional course. Putting yourself in the mindset of a professional barrister  can be difficult. This is especially true when you have come straight out of university and onto the BPTC course. The course can feel artificial at times so some role play can really help you improve your skills.

Qualifying sessions

Your 12 mandatory qualifying sessions will also require you to wear a dark suit (per the dress code of the Inn of Court). What BPTC students will often do is wear a suit for their classes that day and then head over to the Qualifying Session in the evening. It’s important more generally that you look carefully at the dress code specified for the Qualifying Session. I remember once getting confused over “gowns” being written on the dress code and thinking this meant that I should wear a nice dress. Unfortunately it meant gowns as in robes. I was fine because I wore something dark and smart but others were not so lucky. 

To reiterate, please don’t attend Inn events looking unprofessional. There’s no issue with adding your own style to the dark suit dress code, but don’t even think about turning up in casual clothes. If you’re worried that you don’t have enough wardrobe to keep you covered, consider investing in some new suits/smart separates. 

Networking events/conferences 

You don’t necessarily have to wear a dark suit to these, but it is important that you have a good rotation of suits/smart workwear to wear to networking events. Barrister Dr Tunde Okewale hosts the Urban Lawyers careers conference every year and always sets an example of what sharp legal dressing should look like. If you’re looking for feminine workwear inspiration, follow The Chic Legal Geek on Instagram. 

Looking the part is important when trying to set a good first impression. It’s not only an external concern, if you look the part then this helps you feel more confident and secure in yourself. Take the time to figure out your own personal style when it comes to suits and workwear. It may take a while before you really feel like yourself in a suit! 

Pupillage interviews 

Pupillage interviews are not solely reserved for the Spring but occur all throughout the BPTC year. Many people were content with using the wardrobe they’d acquired for Qualifying Sessions and Advocacy assessments for interviews. However, you may want to reserve some items for your big interviews. Think about this ahead of time because nothing adds to pupillage interview stress like looking at your wardrobe, hating everything you see and either wasting precious prep time rushing to find something to wear or despairing that nothing you own is good enough. It may feel strange to buy a suit (or a few) for interviews that you aren’t sure you have yet, but advance preparation is always helpful when facing stressful situations. 

Pro Bono work/Mooting competitions 

You’ll also need wardrobe for extra curricular pro bono and mooting activities. At this point you can reuse your normal business wear but again, it is important to be aware and prepare ahead. 

Briefcase/satchel 

It will be useful to you if you have a kind of case or satchel to fit your papers and laptop for classes, competitions and pro bono. This is not the time to be carrying around scrunched up papers and looking generally unprofessional. Taking good care of your appearance is one thing, but it is also essential that you take care of the materials you use to work. Again, this course is all about becoming a professional barrister. 

Bookstand 

Finally, an accessory that may make a remarkable difference to your BPTC study experience is a bookstand. I got one from Amazon (ensure it’s sturdy enough to hold the White Book and Blackstones) and it meant that I could have the page and a comfortable reading level. This will become a godsend when you’re tired but still have masses to read. 

That should keep you covered! 

A lot of this post focused on suits and workwear, but hopefully you have a good idea of what wardrobe and accessories you need to get through the BPTC. As always, good luck and find me online if you have any questions!