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Petra Petkova: Didn't do a masters at Oxford, an arbitrator assistant and a journey towards the Bar

Before the Bar 

Right before my final exams of the BPTC, I would like to present you with a clear idea of  the way in which I am approaching the bar. (Sinatra's "My way" softly playing in the background.) The results of these exams and my efforts will be shining at the end of this calendar year and hopefully then we will speak again, but for now relax, have a cuppa, and enjoy! Straight after LLB many of law graduates are left with a wide range of choices how to proceed in their career. Some have a dream job, which they would like to pursue, others are uncertain where would their qualities would be best recognised, and some are rushed by parents and peers into making a certain choice, with the promise that they will grow to love it.

The Dream Job Myself, personally, were all of these three graduates. I did have every motivation to pursue my dream. I even had the vision of myself in a wig and gown, with a serious face and the confidence of a warrior (think Batman). In this vision however, I was around 35- 40 years old celebrating the biggest achievement of my life, becoming a barrister. This vision was so far away from my reality, because I was aware how long and hard this road was going to be and that I needed more experience. This feeling of unpreparedness was also fuelled by my unsuccessful attempt to become a LLM student in Oxford University before the end of my LLB degree. Little did I know, this is far less significant to the plans I would make, once I can see past this.  Uncertain Times  Uncertain times these are, indeed and also unprecedented, but guess what?! All times are unprecedented if you would go all existential about it, so for one to take their time to think and asses ones situation is very, very highly recommended.  Right after my LLB, foolishly thinking that coming back to my parents' house would be a step back in my development as powerful woman, I settled on finding a job with the idea I would be able to afford living on my own. In this case, I was wrong. I contacted my employability services from Bangor University and almost immediately they came up with an opportunity for an arbitrator assistant in a company nearby. It was a great position in a flashy, new building, very well paid for an undergraduate per day's work. The tricky thing is, I was needed no more than two days a week. My duties involved pretty much everything an admin would do, and even though I was there only part time (and very little of it,) I actually managed to grasp the idea of Arbitration and how different it is from Litigation, but this is a topic for another article. Anyhow, I was not able to cover my rent so I started a second job, not at "The" Bar, but "A" bar. I was always running from one place to the other and what kept me going was the feeling of security from my offer to study my LLM in Oxford Brookes. Even though Oxford said "No!", Oxford Brookes said "Yes". Thanks to this, whilst running all over North Wales, I thought I was the independent woman Destiny's Child wrote songs about.  PG21 My mother however, said "No!" to LLM altogether. Somewhere, she said, she's heard from the sister's aunt of a friend of hers, that you don't need LLM to practice law. She was (and still is in many aspects) completely right. One does not need LLM to practice, LLM is needed if one pursues a pHD and the academic side of Law. This was not my intention, so I came back to square one. Many of my uni friends have already had paralegal jobs or have been accepted to take the LPC in Manchester. The end of summer was approaching and my boss (the arbitration one), asked me point blank "What do you want to be? What's the final goal?" As if waiting to be asked, I just took a shot with "Barrister!", and then he asked the most logical question, which I never thought about "What do you need to become a Barrister?". In case you don't know yet, you have to take the BPTC. This BPTC however, costed nearly £20k at the time, so I did my research and I discovered (depending on personal circumstances) nearly half of it can be covered if you combine it with LLM.  This very piece of information warmed up my Mumma's heart to the idea of LLM from the get-go. I was enrolled to do the LLM Legal Practice (Barristers) Course, including BPTC at BPP-Holborn pretty much the next day.   So here I am, a 22 year old, strong and independent woman, living at my parents house, trying to comprehend the idea of celebrating being called to "The" Bar before the age of 23, a dream I thought was very, very far away. All I needed to do is hold my head high. Here's a little heads-up for ya, if the universe doesn't have a plan for you, your momma surely does! Petra Petkova 

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