Rachael Pope studied Classics at King’s College London, followed by a few years working full time in project management. She completed an MA in Linguistics at University College London (UCL) and is currently at City University studying the BPTC having completed the GDL at the same institution.
Before joining Middle Temple as a student member, I had little idea of what to expect aside from knowing that I had to complete 12 Qualifying Sessions (QS). As a student of the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), I was able to prepare myself for what to expect on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC); namely a lot of work over a short period of time. On the other hand, Qualifying Sessions were ‘the great unknown’. Additionally, I did not know any other members of the Inn, student or otherwise.
My first event was the introductory student evening in September during the first week of the BPTC. It was well attended and gave a great overview of what was to come over the next academic year. We were also sent a booklet by email which contained everything we needed to know about life as a student member of Middle Temple. I must be honest, before attending this event I was solely interested in completing my QS as quickly as possible. However, one of the speakers mentioned that we will ‘get out of our experience as a student as much as we put in’ and that stuck with me.
Over the next four months I managed to attend a variety of events: a Sherrard Conversation, which discussed the climate crisis and lawyers participating in the extinction rebellion movement; an author’s reading given by Sarah Langford, which gave great insight into not only her book but also her practice; and a karaoke evening, which was a great opportunity to meet fellow Middle Temple students and see a different side to the Inn.
By far my favourite QS was the time I spent at Cumberland Lodge. The advocacy exercises were invaluable in helping me to develop my skills, I was able to get to know even more members of the Inn and I was lucky enough to say good morning to Her Majesty the Queen; a very pleasant and unexpected end to the weekend.
Aside from completing a total of 15 QS before the Michaelmas break, I also participated in other activities and programmes held by the Inn for the benefit of its student members. The ‘Be Heard’ course taught me how to use my voice, the Rosamund Smith mooting competition helped me to develop my mooting skills, despite being knocked out in the first round, and even writing this article for the Middle Templar was an unexpected but welcome opportunity.
At each new event I truly embraced the rule of three, and made sure that I spoke to at least three new people, however, it always ended up being many more. I can now say that I see more and more familiar faces when I visit the Inn and this is entirely due to my participation in a variety of the student events. By virtue of my personal experience during this academic year, I know I will still participate in life at Middle Temple in the future. I am glad that I saw a world beyond QS early on and tried a variety of the events and activities.
It was by no means an easy task to undertake. It required diligent time management and a few sleepless nights to ensure that all of my competing commitments were fulfilled. It was well worth it and looking back I would do it all over again.
I feel it is also prudent to say a few words about the Inn’s response to the current pandemic that we are going through. There has been a Herculean effort to ensure that those who still have QS to complete can do so online. While I completed all of my sessions last year, I have been so glad to see that everything that I think and feel about the Inn holds true, especially in a time such as this shrouded in so much uncertainty.
If you are starting the BPTC in 2020 or are still completing your QS, I would recommend that you try to sample a variety of the events on offer, make sure that you are adhering to the rule of three, and try to enjoy your time as a student member of Middle Temple as it will fly by!