In this interview, Rachel Bailey answers some questions about what made her become a CPS legal trainee. She also shares some information about the process of applying, her motivations for wanting to join the service, as well as tips that we hope will make this application round a successful one for you.
Why did you choose to apply to the Legal Trainee Scheme (LTS)?
I’ve always wanted to be a criminal barrister for the prosecution from a young age. I am aware of the sense of closure and justice and the impact a criminal trial and the conviction can have on a victim and their family and wanted to be part of the prosecution side of the criminal justice system.
What was the application process like?
I undertook a four-stage application process.
- CV – which is part of blind recruitment (removing details that can identify protected characteristic, which university you went to etc.)
- Situational penetration test and verbal reasoning test.
- Online legal assessment – this was a one hour written assessment and some follow up questions which are answered in short video clips.
- Interview with a 30-minute written assessment; 5-minute oral presentation, and 30-minute panel interview (the assessment is based on a legal topic you can research the week before).
How did you prepare for each element of the application cycle?
I keep my CV up to date for each pupillage application round, so this was a quick win. But for the legal assessments, I thoroughly researched the themes when provided – including elements of the offences / CPS policy/media coverage etc. I also reviewed the Code for Crown Prosecutors and made sure I understood the Full Code Test as this underpins our work, and it would be impossible not to refer to it at some point. I also researched the CPS more widely, including looking at diversity at the time. In preparation for the interview, I made sure I could clearly express my desire to join the CPS and why I was committed to public service – this should shine through as it is important to articulate why you chose the LTS rather than the external bar.
What are your favourite aspects thus far? Would you recommend LTS and if so, why?
I absolutely love being on my feet in court – there is no better feeling. I particularly enjoy conducting trials and cross-examining defendants and defence witnesses. Taking a case through the whole trial is amazing and always reminds me why I was committed to becoming a barrister. I would highly recommend the role; at the CPS, you get a lot training, support, and access to great material. There are also great opportunities to get involved with other things you are interested in that are not part of your “day to day” role. I have been involved in delivering hate crime sessions to a transgender community group, delivering sessions to schools, and actively participating in our community programmes. There is so much breadth on offer, you are bound to find additional things you will enjoy.
What myth about prosecuting as an employee of the Crown Prosecution Service would you like to dispel?
That we don’t get enough court time – we do. Also, your career will be as equally rewarding as it would be if you were at the independent bar – there is the same level of kudos; it’s not a lesser option; it’s just different. We all play a vital role in the criminal justice system, and we wouldn’t work without each other.
What tips would you give to future trainees?
Persevere! Even if you don’t get a role the first time, keep applying. It really is a great place to work. Remember why you wanted to be a criminal lawyer, why you want to join the CPS and make sure that shines through at the interview. We recruit individuals, so we want to know what drives you!