A Window into the Barrister–at–Law Degree Course
King’s Inns is the oldest institution of professional legal education in Ireland and its primary focus is the training of barristers. The King’s Inns Barrister–at–Law professional vocational degree course is aimed at enabling students to acquire the requisite skills, knowledge and values in order to be fit to practise at the Bar. Persons undertaking the course not only have a duty to their profession once they commence practice, but to the administration of justice in the state, to society and to their future clients: the course is structured to reflect that imperative. It is important to note that deeming a person fit to practise at the Bar is not solely a question of that person achieving a fixed educational standard. That determination also involves a general assessment of fitness and probity.
The Barrister–at–Law course is not academic in nature. It is an intensive, practical and interactive course which seeks to bridge the gap between the academic study of law and the practice of law. The learning journey is best described as a passage from the classroom to the courtroom. Throughout the course, teaching and learning focus on what happens in practice. Classes are taught almost exclusively in groups of sixteen with the emphasis being on exercises and group work based on realistic case papers. To prepare students fully for practice King’s Inns focus on providing high levels of face to face tuition.
The majority of students study the professional degree course full–time over the course of one academic year. However, the course is also offered on a part–time basis over two years delivered at weekends, thereby accommodating those who wish to maintain employment while studying for the Bar.
136 King’s Inns students were awarded the BL degree this year. Additionally 5 Northern Ireland Barristers were admitted to the degree largely based on their existing qualifications and experience. 3 EU based lawyers were admitted as well, again largely based on their existing qualifications and experience.
The degree course is designed to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge for practice at the Bar; however, the skills acquired on the course are relevant to numerous other careers.
Most of our BL graduates accepted the ‘call’ this year to become a barrister by the Chief Justice of Ireland but by no means have all opted to go into the Law Library as ‘devils’ and indeed not all those who decide to ‘devil’ intend to spend the rest of their professional lives as working barristers. A number of the recently graduated working barristers intend to use their experience to progress into government employment as legal advisers or parliamentary draftsmen and others will move into commercial employments for instance in the world of insurance and finance. Many others, who choose to study part–time, are already in the highest levels of public service and commercial life and intend using the skills acquired, during their time at King’s Inns, within their well–established careers.
For more information on the BL course, please click here.