Date Posted... Nov 11th 2022

Becoming a Barrister with Oliver Carlyon CO99

After leaving Truro School in 1999 Oliver told the current students that his first-choice university was Cardiff University. After visiting King’s College London and Cardiff, he ultimately chose Cardiff knowing it would be the place he was happiest, despite it not necessarily being the more academically respected university for Law at the time, he knew he would have a better university experience. Oliver offered our ambitious law students’ reflection on his own time at School when having to choose which university subject to apply for, and shared that if he could choose his subject again, he would have chosen not to study law, and instead study something else that interested him before completing a law conversation.  “What you learn at university doesn’t necessarily reflect what you actually practice later as a qualified lawyer so it’s worth considering that you might as well do a subject you’re interested in and then law conversion before applying.”

After his Law degree – Oliver decided he wanted to become a barrister due to the opportunity to do advocacy work. Oliver completed the Bar (LLM) at Cardiff University before moving to London to gain work experience in a law firm as a paralegal. After this he was offered a pupillage at Chambers in Exeter for three years. Following Exeter, Oliver explained that he then made the move back to London when opportunity arose to support the London Fire Brigade as an in-house lawyer which led to working on the inquest to the London bombings of 7 July 2005. Oliver is currently a partner at Fieldfisher and has worked on numerous inquisitorial proceedings such as:

  • The Lakanal House fire inquests;
  • The Inquests into the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster;
  • The Grenfell Tower Inquiry; and
  • The Inquests into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor.

During the careers talk, Oliver took time to describe the work/life balance that comes along with being a barrister. He said being self-employed meant flexibility with life but it’s inevitable that you will often have to work weekends, particularly if you earn a reputation as a top barrister because you are inundated with work so find yourself being extremely busy. Depending on the area of law you work in, your working pattern will vary hugely.

Oliver offered advice and insight for students into what he looks for in graduate recruitment: “I don’t look at those with only legal experience, I am also interested in hearing about interesting experiences in work or life generally. Ultimately, we look for bright people with insight and that can demonstrate that. We look for personal enthusiasm. The best interviews are those that turn into a conversation and aren’t just question and answer. Some advice is if you’re interested in law, do legal experience so you know you don’t hate it(!) but also get experience in other areas and get some life experience.”

If you are an Old Truronian and can offer career advice to our current students, please contact Amanda (Development and Alumni Relations) at [email protected] or phone 01872 246010.