5 March 2019
Barrister Sophie Cartwright visited Bolton School to speak about her career in law as part of the Bolton School Girls’ Division series of evening enrichment events which are open to the public. Opening her address, she said she hoped to help the young people in the audience to decide whether or not to pursue a legal career.
Sophie pointed out that law is vast and wide-ranging, and so her talk would focus on her own experiences. She therefore began by outlining her career, including the admission that she had no idea what to do when she was at school but a “chance encounter” and a mini-pupillage shadowing a lawyer for a week helped her to decide on a legal career. Although careers advisors warned her that it would be difficult and competitive, which she acknowledged was the case, she was not deterred.
She advised aspiring lawyers to have the same determination. Other qualities and skills she identified as useful in a legal career were the ability to fact manage and find hard work rewarding, but also common sense, empathy, kindness and generosity.
She also pointed out that the law is not about truth but about evidence, and barristers must be able to argue either side of a case on a client’s behalf. She talked about the importance of an analytical and logical approach, and advocated getting plenty of experience of debate and public speaking. In addition, she pointed out the value of work experience both as a way to find out if the job is a good fit but also to show commitment in future applications and interviews.
Peppered throughout Sophie’s address were pieces of advice large and small. From a warning not to wear a bright red jacket in court to the suggestion of marshalling a judge to see how the court works, she passed on lots of helpful tips for the next generation. She also drew attention to the potentially substantial awards, scholarships and bursaries available through the Inns of Court.
She spoke about the huge privilege of helping and supporting individuals through very difficult times in their lives, and discussed some of the cases she has been involved with to exemplify this. Her stories included plenty of anecdotes which showed the funny side to this often serious profession.
Sophie’s interesting and informative talk broke down some of the myths about the Bar, presented different routes to becoming a barrister, and opened up legal careers more generally. This was no doubt a hugely useful evening for all the aspiring lawyers who attended.
Details of all the forthcoming Arts and Sciences Enrichment Evenings can be viewed here: https://www.boltonschool.org/senior-girls/extra-curricular-activities/enrichment-lectures/