3 Weeks Down, 49 Weeks to Go… Life as a Pupil Barrister

After turning up at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on my first day (April Fools’ Day) and observing my first case, cash forfeiture under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, I was extremely relieved that pupillage did exist and was excited to see what the next twelve months had in store for me.

Since then time has flown by. I have been fortunate to observe many members of Chambers in conference and in various courts (including The Royal Courts of Justice) on a diverse range of topics that cover the breadth of Chambers’ core practice areas. During my first week I observed a Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) trial that involved multiple days of evidence in order to ascertain (i) whether a sum of money had been gifted to purchase a property and (ii) which parties had an interest in the property. This unusual case was a fantastic example of how to conduct and adapt examination-in-chief and cross-examination dependent on the witness giving evidence.

Another highlight was attending a trial for contested remedial works that were completed under s.215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This provision provides a local authority with the power, in certain circumstances, to take steps requiring land to be cleaned up when its condition adversely affects the amenity of the area. The Defendant instructed a lay representative as their advocate in court which presented unique situations throughout the hearing, thus demonstrating the importance of knowing you case intimately so you can tackle any eventuality that may arise.

Prior to pupillage, I participated in several family law pro bono projects as a result I developed a keen interest across all areas of family law. I have had the opportunity to attend pre-action conferences and several financial dispute resolution hearings (FDRs) on matrimonial finance. These have been invaluable experiences regarding how to identify key issues and, where possible, negotiate a strong and fair settlement for your client. I have also attended complex, multi-party public law cases at various stages of proceedings.

Alongside a busy court schedule, I have been able to undertake practical exercises such as drafting attendance notes and other legal documents, including a defence for a construction dispute. At Becket Chambers you undertake a varied common law pupillage, this allows you to build a robust foundation in which to start your career. In addition, you are able to gain an indication for where your skills and preferences lie and whether you would like a specialist or common law practice.

Commencing pupillage can be a daunting experience however, Chambers have made the transition to pupillage as stress free as possible. Each member of Chambers has been very helpful explaining the intricacies of each case and have provided valuable advice to survive pupillage and more practical tips, such as, the best places to buy lunch when at a particular court. Furthermore, Chambers offers various levels of support to ensure that you gain as much as possible from the twelve (short!) months in order to be in the best position for tenancy and the rest of your career.

Pupillage is a steep learning curve, you have to master applying the law, case management and client relations whilst taking every opportunity to develop and finesse your advocacy. Looking back on the short time I have been at Becket Chambers, I have thoroughly enjoyed every day and I am looking forward to my second six in October when I will be on my feet taking instructions across Chambers’ core practice areas.