04 Dec 2023
As Bridging the Bar's judicial internship month draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment to share a deeper understanding of our internship programmes and reflect on the importance of such opportunities. Thus, over the next four weeks, we will be publishing a series of articles which explore the impact these programmes have on our candidates and why we believe they should become standard practice in all industries.
To kickstart this series we asked 23/24 candidate Amrit Athwal to share her thoughts on the value of paid work experience opportunities...
"Internships provide invaluable opportunities to gain hands-on experience and build professional networks. However, the divide between paid and unpaid internships has a multitude of negative consequences that must be discussed.
Unpaid internships favour individuals from more privileged backgrounds, who can afford to offer their time for free. The financial burden associated with unpaid internships excludes a pool of talented and capable candidates who are unable to take on roles without compensation. This further exacerbates socio-economic inequalities, hinders diversity, perpetuating a cycle whereby only those with a certain privileged background can access such internships.
Paid internships play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity. Firstly, paid internships attract candidates based on merit and not financial circumstances, thus fostering diversity and inclusion. Secondly, providing financial remuneration not only levels the playing field, but also helps to break the cycle of privilege that perpetuates within the Bar. It is important to note that many aspiring barristers are already burdened with the costs of qualifying as a barrister. With many accruing debt along their route to qualifying, therefore reinforcing the importance of paid internships.
Bridging the Bar recognises the imbalance of paid/unpaid internships and offers five paid internships in conjunction with the UK Supreme Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Law Commission and Advocate. By providing these paid internships, Bridging the Bar ensures that talented individuals, regardless of their financial background, can access such unparalleled and esteemed opportunities.
The internships between Bridging the Bar and such prestigious institutions not only offers financial remuneration but also facilitates mentorship, networking and development of an array of skills. The impact of these internships extend beyond individual success stories and contribute to a more diverse and representative Bar.
The importance of paid internships lies not only in the immediate benefits provided to individuals such as compensation but also in their potential to reshape the future of the Bar by promoting diversity and inclusivity. Bridging the Bar’s paid internships with the UK Supreme Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and Advocate actively break down barriers and creates a more level laying field for aspiring barristers. It is imperative that more paid internships are available to support endeavours to bridge the gap between unpaid and paid opportunities in levelling the playing field and promoting diversity and inclusion."