Help to the Bar!

Please help fulfil my dream of completing the full-time postgrad Bar Professional Training Course

Help to the Bar!
  • £1

    pledged of £21,000

    • 1

      sponsor

    • 0

      left

This project received pledges on Wed 20 Jul 2016

The project

Hi my name is Liz Vigne and I am a final year LLB (Hons) law student at Birkbeck University of London and I really need help so that I can finish my legal education.

I have been very fortunate to have been offered a place to study the Bar Professional Training course at City Law School. However, despite being given a partial scholarship from the law school, without the remaining funds and additional travel fees required, I will not be able to proceed further. The total fees for this course is £18,000 however, the scholarship awarded of £5,000 has reduced this amount to £13,000.

I am able to support myself for my day-to-day expenses but the course fees and travel costs to London are prohibitive. Besides scholarships there is no government assistance available, meaning poorer students struggle to pursue a career in the legal sector after completing their law degree.

About me

I was born in Bristol into a single parent family on a vast council estate. My parents split up before I was born. My mother looked after her parents, my grandparents and this had a detrimental impact on my childhood.

Eventually Social Services were notified by the school that I was not attending regularly. Numerous meetings between the school and social services occurred and then court action was issued. By the age of 8 I was made the subject of a Local Authority Care Order, taken away from my family and placed in a residential school. I was taken 80 miles from my family and I could only visit on occasional weekends and school holidays. Most of my formative years were spent in various boarding schools which impacted on my education. I left school with no formal qualifications which impeded my preferred career choice of entering the legal profession.

I aspired to having a legal career since childhood. My earliest memories of the law stemmed from my mother attempting to have the care order removed. Frequent attendances in court or meetings with her solicitor cemented my passion for justice and the court system as a whole.

By the time I was 16/17 I decided the care order was not relevant and I took the matter to court. I demonstrated that the care order, far from being of any assistance, obstructed any employment opportunities. This was due to my Social Worker requesting that I should see her on a fortnightly basis on a Friday, thus proving very difficult in finding an employer who would accommodate this request. The court was happy with my reasons and ruled in my favour. This was my first time advocating in a courtroom and I LOVED IT!!

Despite the lack of formal qualifications I went on to achieve various positions within the NHS. I worked permanent full-time nights at a hospital for 9 years. I also did some agency work and spent several months looking after patients in their own homes, including on behalf of Marie Curie. This I did whilst my children were young. Although the time I spent caring for others was rewarding, I longed to fulfil my ambition to follow a legal career.

I was able to accomplish the first steps towards my ambition by gaining my Access to Combined Studies Certificate, all A level equivalents before moving on to the undergraduate law degree whilst raising my family as a newly single parent.

It was after I commenced the course that I was involved in a car accident. I continued with my studies through ill health but my grades were less than stellar. After recovering, I transferred to Birkbeck where my grades dramatically improved.

I then took up various volunteer roles including working as a caseworker in a law centre in London where I drafted documents, interviewed clients and researched areas of human rights law in other countries where human rights abuses were rife. I have since gained a volunteer position with the Personal Support Unit based at the Royal Courts of Justice.

I have done much to assist my chances of becoming a barrister. Besides the various work experience positions, I have marshalled a few judges including a judge at the Old Bailey. I have also successfully completed several mini-pupillages.

I have taken part in several national mooting competitions. One of my mooting competitions was the Swansea Commercial and Maritime competition. Prior to the competition, my knowledge of both commercial and maritime law was somewhat limited which, created its own particular challenges. Therefore, it was rewarding to be recognised and shortlisted as a finalist for the most improved advocacy at Middle Temple.

 

Why this is important  

Growing up on a council estate with a single parent who did not attend university and then having the added disadvantage of being placed in care has been detrimental yet, this upbringing has been advantageous insofar as, it has instilled a robust work ethic, a determination to succeed and an understanding of people and situations.

One of the reasons why I want to do this course is because (although a cliché) I want to help other people in times of difficulty.

Although the legal profession has taken a major hit in terms of legal aid funding I am not doing this to become wealthy. In fact I would want to practice in areas of law which helps everyday people. (Crime, public law, (judicial review) and human rights). These are the areas of law where funding has been an issue.

This is important to me as I have longed to have this career since I was a child. Having overcome so many obstacles to get this far, I feel it would be a shame to not get any further. I am aware how competitive the profession is, yet I believe my background has given me the strength and determination to succeed.

The Bar needs to be more diverse and better represent of all walks of life. To achieve this I will be one of the few representing a different section of society. I have successfully raised my 2 children on my own and now, with some help I can finally achieve my one aim. Having overcome so many obstacles, I really don't want to fail at this late stage. 

Where will the money go?

  •  £12,000 course fees
  • £8,000 daily train travel from Swindon to London for the duration of the course 
All money raised will go directly to paying the course and travel costs. Should the target exceed the £21,000, additional funds will go on costs related to my studies.

My way of saying thanks

I promise that alongside the course I will continue to give back to the community by volunteering. I have recently been accepted onto a training programme by a charity called the Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA). This is a charity that helps parents who have children with special educational needs and disabilities challenge decisions by a Local Authority. My role will be to act as an advocate in their tribunal as well as offering support and guidance. IPSEA likes their volunteers to work for a minimum of 2 years and this is something I am more than happy to do.

Any donation however small is gratefully appreciated. Even if you cannot donate then please do share this to help me succeed.

Massive thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope one day, to be in a position to help someone else who desperately needs it.