In this article Lucie Briggs describes her own path to law as a STEM graduate and describes her experience of pupillage, and subsequent tenancy at Atkin Chambers. Lucie studied Chemistry at King’s College, London before taking the law conversion course (PGDL), and then the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) at the College of Law, London. Lucie was called to the Bar in 2004, commenced pupillage in the same year, and became a tenant in 2005.
How did you find the transition to law from science?
I transitioned from my chemistry degree to the PGDL after taking a year out to go travelling. The PGDL is a one-year course that gives you a grounding in the theory of law whilst concurrently teaching you the practical application of that theory. I am glad I took a year out as the science degree was intensive, as was the PGDL, and following that the pupillage process and junior tenancy were also intensive.
Saying that, I didn’t find the transition into the PGDL that difficult because as a science graduate I was used to problem-based assessments which is very much the focus on the PGDL.
The amount and intensity of the workload on the PGDL is also quite high. At the time I did the PGDL attendance was daily, pretty much 9-to-5 with lectures and additional work, but as a science graduate I was used to being in labs and lectures all day so this transition wasn’t overly difficult either.
What do you bring to your practice as a STEM graduate?
In my practice it has probably been slightly advantageous in my field, to come from a STEM background. Atkin Chambers’ main practice area is construction, a specialist branch of commercial law. My practice involves liaising with experts in the field who often have a scientific element to their reports.
How did you find your Pupillage experience at Atkin Chambers?
One of the most important benefits of pupillage at Atkin Chambers is the attitude that Chambers takes towards its pupils. The pupillage offered at Atkin Chambers reflects the ethos that pupils are here to learn and to improve their skills, and time is invested to that effect.
As to the work, I gained experience at the cutting edge of law (many of the most important authorities in the law of contract and tort are construction cases) and also a myriad of other disciplines, from the way oil rigs operate one day to how tunnels under the sea are constructed the next. I can certainly say I was never bored!
What do you think of being a tenant at Atkin Chambers?
I really enjoy the range of work I get at Atkin Chambers – it is actually a lot broader than I imagined it would be and extends well beyond the traditional construction roots of the set. Getting to grips with the real technicalities in different industry sectors has been a very challenging part of my experience so far.
On a more personal level, the atmosphere in Chambers is friendly and collegiate (helped by the fact that chambers is relatively small in size). This is an aspect of life at the Bar which is really important to me.