Yesterday was one of those days where not only did I finish a chapter of my life, but also finish the first volume. Yesterday marked the end of the Bar Professional Training course, or BPTC that I had been taking at MMU over the past year, which in effect was the conclusion of my 5th and final year in full time, university education.
Its been over 4 weeks, but finally the BSB have released a statement with regards to Ethics-gate. It was as expected, pointless!
Well at least for the next few weeks anyway, ‘E will be for End of Exams’
The Bar Standards Board, the regulatory body who sets three of the exams required to be taken by students wanting to become barristers, set a paper whereby some of the questions and answers had been made available to some students before hand.
Far too often do people confuse knowledge with memory, and this is most apparent in the exam setting. Why must the two be confused?
Following my recent trip to Middle Temple, on balance it was an enjoyable weekend, the food was great, the location was stunning, and the company was perfect.
For those of you who do not know, this year I am undertaking the Bar Professional Training Course (or BPTC for short), in order to complete the first few steps in becoming a fully qualified barrister.
In order to become a barrister a student must join one of the four Inns of Court, and complete at least 12 qualifying sessions – this weekend I aim to complete three more.
As today is my 23rd birthday (yes I know, aren’t I getting old) I thought I would write a little blog post addressed to my 16 year old self. This is by no means an original idea, as I have seen it floating around on a few other blogs, however it is an idea which I am keen to explore. I think the most sensible way to go about organising my thoughts is to break them down into categories which I would want to address if I had the opportunity to go back in time. Let us first look at the topic of parents. At the ripe age of sixteen, they are the only types of creatures that can be both exceptionally embarrassing and annoying at the same time without needing to utter a single syllable. At sixteen years of age it seems as if all they want to do is to rule your life, they tell you to do this, to eat that, stay clear of them, all the while wanting you to revising for GCSE’s. I (just like any other teenage in this country) gave my parents a run for my money during those turbulent years. By reading my blog, to some extent you would be right in thinking I was g0ds gift (after all that is what Jonathan means in Hebrew), however I wasn’t always like this. I was well shaped by two parents whose strong will shaped me into what I am today. Therefore if there was one message I could give my 16 year old self one message it would be, although as painful as it is to admit it, they were always usually right, and although what they did/said at the time may have seemed unfair at the time, they only wanted what was best. Secondly the topic of education, being sixteen meant I was halfway through my GCSE’s, and boy what a fun time that was. Although at the moment I have two (soon to be three degrees under my belt), I didn’t know that I would be in this position nine years ago. GCSE’s were an odd creature to tame, on one hand I had a small amount of input in what subjects that I took and so enjoyed most of them, and on the other I still had to do subjects which I simply hated, maths being amongst one of them. I knew that these exams were important, however I was enjoying the social side of school, and so whilst my studies didn’t take a back seat, they certainly weren’t in the first five rows. My GCSE results were not bad by any stretch of the imagination, however they could have been better. So if my sixteen year old self was reading this, I would advise him to study that little bit more, yes by the time you get to your second degree very few people care about them, but they are needed, and so a few more A-B grades would have been helpful. Thirdly the topic of friends. At the age of sixteen there is a massive competition to see who has the most number. All you had to do was look at the social networking sites to see who really took their popularity seriously, as no sooner had the first day of school ended you were prompted with a friend request. After GCSE’s it is inevitably the time where some of your friends move on to other schools to do their A-levels, or enter into employment and so the promises to remain life long friends, meet up every weekend and holiday beings. Its true that these friendships are important, and some of them do last, however there is no need to get as teary eyed as some people do/did. Having been through GCSE/A-Level/Undergrad/Postgrad courses (with new friends attached to each) you soon learn that the majority of friends come and go. It is true that a small handful of those you keep in touch with, and try to meet up when you are all back at home, however you all do move on, its natural. So sixteen year old Jonathan, there is a distinction between number of friends that you have, and those which you really try to keep in touch with, and its important to keep that distinction. I mean if I tried to keep in touch with everyone from high school, undergrad and postgrad days I would be well into quadruple figures, which is simply impossible. There are a handful of people who when I am back in Leeds I try and see from high school, and when I have a free moment in Manchester meet up with those from my undergrad and postgrad days. That is not to say that if anyone else outside this group contacted me I would give them the cold shoulder, it simply means that I got on with some people more than others, which I suppose is normal, and these are the people I want to keep in touch with. Finally, what the future holds. At sixteen I would have given anything to see where I would have been at the age of 18/19 and see what I was studying at uni and where/what I was doing. The bonus of being 23 is that I can now look back on such things and say that my predictions were absolutely wrong. Yes I knew I wanted to go to university, do business and get involved in law, but I had no idea how I was going to get there. Nine years on the path is much clearer, yes there are a few choices to make that may change where I go, but if younger Jonathan is listening I would say; yes its good to have a plan, however don’t stick to it too carefully, as it would prevent you going somewhere you may really enjoy.
Having spent four years at university (and going into my fifth year in September), I have have been at the cutting edge of technology for the 21st century student. I rocked up for my first university lecture with my trusty black Macbook, and over the years the piece of technology that joined me has changed, moving through the MacBook Pro range, iPad and now the MacBook Air, which is my note taking device of choice. However the student of today has to do much more than simply take notes in lectures, they have to write essays, draw diagrams and plan their time. Over the years I have tried most of the software out there, and in order to help the student of 2012 on their way (which yes includes my baby brother who this year flies the nest), I have complied this list of student friendly software. Due to the fact that I am a mac fan, the majority are exclusively for the mack platform, however if you head over to http://alternativeto.net you are bound to find something that suits your need. SugarSync – Problem Solved: Backup/Data Sync – Price: From £0 Just like its direct competitor DropBox, SugarSync is one of those programs where you simply set it and forget it. Unlike DropBox you need not move your files from their original location, you select which folders you want to upload to the cloud, and whenever they change, the changes are synced to the cloud. It is unlikely that your tutor will accept the same excuse for an essay being late that was accepted in high school, so a backup solution is vital. Once SugarSync is set up you don’t need to worry about anything. If your computer ever gets lost/stolen or broken you have a backup of all your vital documents that can be downloaded in a matter of moments. Since documents are stored in the cloud, the web interface allows you to work on your documents from any computer (provided it has an Internet connection and the file type is compatible with the local machine). Gone are the days where you need to worry about carrying a USB drive with you, and keeping it updated with the latest copy of your work, simply logon to SugarSync, download your work, do what you need to do, re-upload it and it will be back waiting for you on your machine when you get home. SugarSync has mobile apps of every variety out there, so your documents are available on the go, perfect if you have your revision notes on there and a moment to spend whist waiting for a bus. The free version of SugarSync gives you a 5GB data allowance, which is more than ample for text documents, the odd photograph and diagram. However if you are studying an art, design or media based subject where file sizes are significantly larger more storage is available at very reasonable prices. Evernote – Problem Solved: Mobile Note Taking/Documents On The Go – Price: From £0 There will be some documents that you will wish to archive yet keep to hand. Documents such as your timetable, copies of your tenancy agreement, statements/receipts of important items, Evernote is perfect for this. As well as being able to write notes in the application itself, you are able to drop in files, that are not only synchronised across your mobile devices but are available online. However that is not all. Evernote has released browser plugins (or extensions) that allow you to clip articles directly to your Evernote notebooks. Data such as the site where the article was taken from and the date it was accessed are automatically stored alongside any pictures that the article contains, making referencing at a later date easy. For me I use Evernote as my ‘important document store’. Amongst my notebook collection I have notebooks for university (and then tag each note be it with a subject or event), personal and interesting articles. Since whatever you put in Evernote is backed up in the cloud (and replicated on any other device you have), I also drop in essays and reports. After all it can’t hurt to have another copy of these important documents saved can it? The free version of Evernote gives you 60mb worth of uploads each month, which for standard text and text based files is more than enough, and I for one have never required more. However if you want features such as being able to upload up to 1GB of data each month and offline notebooks this will set you back £35 a year. OmniFocus – Problem Solved: Task/Todo Management – Price £27.99 When at university, there are going to be hundreds of things that need to be done. Some such as the steps required to complete some tutorial work only occur once, others such as remembering to put the bin out occur on a weekly basis. OmniFocus looks after all these tasks and puts them into groups depending on what is required to do them, which are called Contexts. For example, you can set up a context called ‘Library’ (and an alert can even be set up on the iPhone app to alert you through location services when you are at the library) to remind you to renew a book, check out another book and get your photocopying done all in one go. Similar tasks such as getting all your emails done in one go etc etc can save time as you are focused on one process rather than flitting between several different things. Tasks are sorted into projects and can be sequential in order or concurrent. A sequential project would be for instance writing an essay, the proof reading can’t be done until you have written the first draft, and the first draft can’t be written until you have done your research. As such the proof reading and first draft tasks won’t show up until the first task of research has […]
Finally my exams have come to a close, which of course means one thing, another chapter of my education has come to an end. The GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) is now over which is gives rise to a few emotions; happiness that I have taken one more step in my journey to become a barrister, however this is of course tainted with the fact that I will have to say goodbye to a few friends. Thankfully the majority of the people who I hung around with are also undertaking their professional qualifications at Manchester Metropolitan University, so it will only be a short summers break before meeting up again. You may recall that there way a few issues with one of my exams having to be rescheduled due to a power cut and fire alarm evacuation. To update you on this, the initial idea to have the exam held giving us two days notice was changed, and it took place after the Jubilee Bank Holiday, giving us plenty of time to prepare. The criminal law paper comprised of questions of identical topics, and similar level of difficulty, so I don’t think there will be much of an issue with regards to outcome. Both myself and other students affected are still having conversations with MMU with regards to why we weren’t permitted to continue our paper when others were, however the main thing is that this is now behind us. The exam period itself was quite a stressful one, which saw me disappear from twitter for several weeks. I started revision mid easter and thank g-d I did. Upon returning to uni I released how much work there was to do, and that by starting when I did was a great idea. The two weeks on the run up to exams I took up residence in the library that was open 24/7 for exam season. I often spent over 10 hours a day there, with the average amount being 12. By the end of the exam period I was almost on first name terms with the security guards and library staff! I think this amount of work paid off, as unlike my A-levels (and to some extent my undergraduate degree) I do feel quite happy with my performance in the seven exams that I sat. Yes I don’t think im going to set the world alight with my performance in Land Law, however that topic aside I am quite happy with my performance and (I know I shouldn’t jinx it) am looking forward to the results that are published mid July. For those undertaking the GDL next year, I can’t stress enough how much work it is. I was told by a family friend how much work it was and I thought she was exaggerating, having come to the end I can say that if anything she was understating the fact. Studying 7 modules across a year, with 7 exams at the end of it, on top of taking part in extra curricular activities such as mooting and pro-bono work makes it a year of being on the go constantly. However the bonus of undertaking so much law in such a small amount of time is that you really do learn a lot of useful information. Yes I didn’t enjoy every aspect of EU Law, Land Law, or Public Law, however modules such as Free Movement of Persons, Registered Land and Police & Criminal Evidence Act affect each and everyone of us more than you would think. By having a greater understanding of such issues allows you to help yourself and others in certain situations. As last year, and in particular the last few weeks was very stressful, my online presence has been significantly less, and for those who follow me on twitter I do apologise. Next week (19th June) my parents have very kindly treated me to a weeks away in New York City. I am going with a friend from Leeds who has not been to NYC, and although I went last year our trip is still going to be full of things which I did not do last time, such as viewing a Broadway Show. The sad thing is that due to time constraints, I still have not viewed the photos from last year! Just as with last year, I have created a site to which will aggregate photos, blog posts and tweets from NYC, you can view it here: http://www.nyc2012.jonathanisaacs.com Apart from that, I hope all my readers are well, and will speak to you again soon. Jonathan x