We’ve put together some commonly asked questions to give you more information about us.
Can you help with my problem?
Our 14 barristers have expertise in the full range of university appeals and complaints.
We deal with appeals against exam results, termination of course, classification of degree, extenuating circumstances decisions, PhD outcomes, plagiarism, cheating and academic misconduct, fitness to practise and fitness to study, and sexual and other non-academic misconduct.
We have barristers who worked as university lecturers prior to joining the Bar, so who have in-depth, personal knowledge of setting and marking assessments, teaching and supervising students, and the university system.
Some barristers have postgraduate degrees, including PhDs, so have lived experience of the challenges of graduate life.
Some of us have worked as criminal barristers and so are comfortable dealing with even the most serious cases of misconduct.
We have been instructed as experts in higher education law by solicitors, embassies, and private clients and, in addition to our work in universities, regularly appear in civil and criminal courts and tribunals across the country.
So yes, we are usually well placed to help with your university problem.
What actually is a barrister?
The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, gives this description:
‘A barrister is a specialist advocate, trained to present a case orally before courts, arbitrators or other tribunals in a way that is most likely to be attractive to a judge and other decision makers.
The core of many barristers’ work is advocacy and advising on actual or potential disputes. This work includes drafting written statements of case, briefs or memorials, advising on legal merits and presenting written and oral arguments.’
(Barristers in the International Legal Market)
Should I try ‘having a go’ myself first?
Some clients think "I'll give it a go on my own first and if that doesn't work out I'll use Alpha Academic Appeals." This is a very high-risk strategy as errors are far more likely. Some of these errors cannot be rectified later on and can prove fatal to their case.
To maximise the prospects of a successful outcome, we strongly recommend early involvement of our experts to avoid mistakes, produce the strongest possible case from the outset, and facilitate prompt resolution of the problem.
What usually happens in a consultation?
Typically, the barrister will read all the relevant documents and the institution’s rules and regulations before the start of the consultation. In the consultation itself, the barrister may:
Who conducts the consultation?
All our advisers are qualified, practising barristers registered with the Bar Council, and fully insured.
How long does a consultation last?
There is no maximum time but in our experience most consultations last between 1-2 hours.
How quickly can you arrange a consultation?
We have a fast track service where consultations can be arranged within 24 hours, subject to adviser availability. Most consultations occur within 3-4 days.
Where do consultations take place?
As our clients come from all over the UK (and beyond), we frequently have consultations by Skype, Zoom or MS Teams.
If a face to face consultation is preferred, our offices are in London. We have several barristers who are based outside the capital. Our barristers are also able to travel to see clients around the country.
Is it worth using your services?
It depends on what’s at stake for you.
For many of our clients, an unsuccessful appeal could result in significant financial losses. They might have to repeat the year, with further tuition fees and other cost implications. They might have to delay getting a paid job for a year (the median starting salary for UK graduates in 2019 is expected to be £30,000), or risk getting a lower paid job or taking longer to secure a good job because of having a poor degree and a consequent lack of competitiveness on the job market.
A recent study showed that graduates with a 2:1 or higher can expect to earn 7-9% more than graduates with lower degrees. Over the course of a working life, this represents a difference of tens of thousands of pounds.
In some cases, the existing outcome might extinguish the possibility of entering their desired profession, such as medicine, law, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or academia.
Finally, there might be reputational damage in cases of misconduct, with knock-on consequences on employability.
If the matter is important to you, then you should seriously consider getting professional help.
How much does a consultation cost?
There are 4 pricing plans to suit nearly all budgets: Alpha Pro, Alpha Plus, Alpha Value, and Alpha Lite. Please ask us for details.
Are there any additional costs?
The cost of the consultation (and all the preparation for it) is fixed. It is only if the client asks us to conduct additional work, such as writing the appeal statement or other document on their behalf, representing them at a hearing, or some other task, that the barrister will charge for the extra work. The cost varies depending on the nature of the task.
How much do you charge if I want you to write the appeal statement too?
Again, it depends on several factors. A 5-page appeal statement is likely to cost less than a 35-page one. The range varies from approximately £600 - £1,800 + VAT.
What is your success rate?
Barristers are prohibited by the Code of Conduct of the Bar Standards Board from advertising and promoting success rates.
In any event, every case is different so an overall success rate would be of minimal significance to your particular case.
Do you do ‘no win no fee’?
We do not offer this option at present.
Do you do a free initial consultation so that I can discuss my case with you and you can tell me what my chances are?
To advise accurately, our barristers read all the relevant documents and university regulations prior to the consultation and usually spend some time finding out further information during the consultation itself. This normally takes several hours and cannot be done in a ‘free’ initial consultation. The barrister’s assessment of prospects of success forms part of the full consultation.
What’s in your Online Video Tutorial?
Our new online video tutorial teaches the essential steps needed to produce a persuasive appeal statement. Click here for a free preview of Lecture 1.
What is the difference between solicitors and barristers?
Both are lawyers but with different skills.
An oft-used analogy is that between GPs (solicitors) and hospital consultants (barristers). Solicitors tend to be generalists whereas barristers are experts in the law and specialise in written and oral advocacy.
Historically, members of the public could only access barristers through solicitors but a change in the law has allowed people to access barristers directly as long as those barristers are ‘Direct Access trained’.
All of our barristers are Direct Access trained.
What is the difference between AAA lawyers and Student Union advisers?
Key differences are set out below.
We are open long hours (until 10pm), 7 days a week. We also offer same day consultations.
We respond promptly to any correspondence by clients.
All our advisers are qualified, practising barristers. Some are also former lecturers, mediators, arbitrators and tribunal judges.
Unlike student union advisers, we are allowed to provide legal advice and represent individuals in all courts in England & Wales. We are experts in written and oral argument.
Our barristers can write appeal statements and many other documents for you. SU advisers rarely do this.
We are happy to have relatives and friends attend consultations (with the client's permission). We communicate with students by telephone, email, whatsapp, and any means most convenient to the client.
Trust and Confidentiality
As lawyers, we have strict duties of confidentiality towards clients. These duties are far more stringent than those between a SU adviser and a student.
Access to experts
Our barristers have access to a network of independent medical and non-medical experts who we can instruct on your behalf.
Professional representation in hearings
If permitted to attend, our barristers provide professional quality representation at university hearings.
What do I do if I want to use your services?
There are 2 ways to get in touch:
1) Call us now on 0800 368 9230 and book an appointment
2) Complete the online form here.
What happens after I say I want to proceed?
When you have indicated your wish to proceed, a specialist barrister will be allocated to you. He or she will make contact with you directly and will ask you to send him or her all the relevant documents relating to your case. A time will also be arranged for the consultation.
The barrister’s secretary will also send you an invoice and a Client Care Letter by e-mail.
From then on, your barrister will be your first port of call whenever you have a query about your case.
Can I read what other people have said about you?
You can visit our 'Reviews' page where we have cut and pasted dozens of reviews from students and their parents.