Bar work appeals to pupils

Defendants dressed as vegetables and a leather-clad barrister - the Inner Temple uncovered. Adi Bloom reports

A barrister in leather trousers and an episode of the legal drama This Life are among the elements of a work-placement programme designed to challenge inner-city pupils' perceptions of the law.

Fifteen-year-olds Jade Bailey and Elizabeth Dehinbo, both in Year 10 at Notre Dame school in Southwark, south London, are spending two weeks at the Inner Temple, learning about life at the Bar.

The two pupils were chosen from 25 applicants, as part of the String of Pearls Golden Jubilee project, which aims to bring together traditional institutions and community groups.

Recognition of the need to encourage more children from low-income families into the law has been growing - 16 per cent of new barristers come from Oxbridge and a further 42 per cent from traditional universities.

"The Inner Temple is a very rarified world," said Victoria Ribbans, project spokeswoman. "This is about making it seem accessible."

This demystification comes courtesy of Owen Davies, a flamboyant, leather-trousered QC, selected for the job in the hope that his sartorial eccentricity will dissipate the forbidding atmosphere of the Inner Temple's ornate, collegiate edifice.

Jade and Elizabeth will shadow Mr Davies, touring the chambers, attending court and visiting legal outfitters Ede and Ravenscroft. They will also watch an episode of the BBC legal drama, This Life.

At the end of the fortnight, they will produce a presentation for their classmates, comparing Mr Davies's living and working conditions with those of renowned 19th-century barrister, Edward Marshall Hall.

"Most jobs, you do the same thing day in and day out," said Jade. "With law it's different - Owen Davies has had cases with people dressed as vegetables, while others have murders.

"A lot of people I know don't really consider working in the legal profession. It's interesting to see what the job actually entails."

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