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Jack Cottrell

Career Path: Barrister, Trinity Chambers
Location: Newcastle, UK

I originally studied history as an Undergraduate and Master’s student. I loved history, but I always felt I wanted to do something more practical. After brief stints working in retail and in television production, I decided to convert to law after doing some really interesting work experience at Newcastle Crown Court. I secured pupillage whilst studying on the BPTC, and worked as a paralegal after graduating whilst waiting for my pupillage to start.

What are you doing now?Jack Cottrell

I am currently a pupil barrister at Trinity Chambers, Newcastle.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here

Having grown up in the North East, I was keen to practise in the region and to begin establishing contacts in Newcastle’s legal sector whilst I was studying. Northumbria has a strong reputation amongst the legal profession and I was really impressed with the Law School’s facilities, particularly its mock courtroom. The BPT course at Northumbria was competitively priced which, coupled with the cheap cost of living in the North East, meant that it was both a high quality and affordable course.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

Varied! The BPTC has a real mix of lectures, seminars and practical workshops. A lot of individual preparation was required for these, but there were always people on the course you could turn to if you were unsure of anything. I received a lot of useful feedback from the tutors. It’s very important to have a thick skin on the BPTC as your written work and advocacy will be thoroughly judged, but the feedback I received was always constructive and helped me to improve quickly.

How connected was your course with industry? 

Northumbria has very strong links with the local legal sector. The majority of my lecturers and seminar tutors were either practising barristers, or had practised earlier in their careers. Throughout the year we were invited to advocacy masterclasses led by local barristers, and the Law School hosted guest lectures from prominent lawyers such as Terence Etherton MR. There were also opportunities during the course to win mini-pupillages with local chambers or to marshal for judges in Newcastle and Durham. 

What was the best thing about your course?

The advocacy classes. The problems we were given each week were fun to prepare, and the small group sizes meant that we were able to present full arguments and receive detailed individual feedback.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

In addition to the excellent teaching at Northumbria, which helped me achieve high marks on the course, my tutors provided essential advice when it came to applying for pupillage and navigating the interview process. It’s hard to put a value on that, and their help played a huge part in my securing the pupillage I wanted.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Essentially all the skills I learnt on the BPTC are useful to me on a daily basis. In particular, the advocacy and drafting skills I developed on the course, as well as the knowledge I gained of civil and criminal procedure, will continue to serve me well throughout my career. 

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

Getting involved in all the extracurricular activities on offer. At Northumbria I was able to cross examine trainee police officers, be a witness in a pupil training day in York and act as counsel in several full trials as part of the Mock Trial Society, to name just a few things! All of them were rewarding, allowed me practise skills from the BPTC in a different environment and helped to build my CV.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

London is not the be-all and end-all of the legal scene. There are lots of opportunities in the north east, and Northumbria is a great place to access them from.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Challenging, unique and rewarding. 

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