“And breathe…”: A reflection on starting Second Six

As I write this article, I take a deep breath and reflect on the end of my first month of my second six. Now I’m on my feet, the time has come to see how well the shoe fits! After six months of observing hearings remotely, the fact that now more and more matters are being heard in person comes as both a shock to the system and a pleasant opportunity to escape the confines of the house (not to mention the barking of the neighbour’s dog!).

For me, D-Day was October 1st. My first case? A final hearing for an Occupation and Non-Molestation Order. When the papers came through there was the anticipated mingling of nerves and excitement. No longer was I an observer, but an advocate with a duty to promote fearlessly my client’s best interests. Reading through the papers, and knowing that the responsibility lay on my shoulders, the importance of the court’s decision to the client was brought home to me in a way which is impossible to understand from only observing cases. It was therefore a great joy (and relief!) to have the court find in favour of my client, and the element of professional satisfaction was greater than anything I had experienced in my 15 years working life until then. My decision to go to law school was immediately vindicated!

As the days flew by, my cases had me going to courts far and wide for a variety of hearings. The very 2021 concern about avoiding protesters on the roads was something that I hadn’t counted on, so early departure times were called for, but after a few days this simply became part of my routine. Meeting clients in person, helping to settle nerves and discuss what the hearing would involve soon felt very natural and has been by far one of the most satisfying aspects of my second six.

Having a background in civil law meant that not every hearing was new and gave me some time to recover between cases in areas of law that I was experiencing in a hands-on way for the first time.  I have been instructed on possession hearings and injunctions, and with the delights of modern CVP technology, even attended Liverpool for the first time since a trip to the Cavern Club during my Beatle obsessed youth.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been the odd late-night panic. Fast track costs, assessing quantum in personal injury claims and often just the volume of papers to read have all kept me up at night. Luckily, the support from chambers has been complete. From the clerks making time in my diary for preparation days, to a wonderful pupil supervisor who is always willing to take my calls on any subject and generally to a community of barristers who are always willing to give advice and guidance, I have always had someone to call to answer any questions that I have had.

As I begin my second month, I am enjoying looking forward in my diary and seeing what the rest of the year has in store.  The diversity of chambers’ practice areas means that the weeks ahead are varied, and I will be gaining experience in a wide range of cases, each with their own idiosyncrasies and challenges. I can see that I will be instructed in public law matters for the first time, do my first full-day trial in the Magistrates Court and continue progressing with a number of civil trials and applications.

There is no doubt that a second six is an all-consuming experience, but it is one that is to be relished. After a COVID-19 hit 18 months which has seen us all suffer and stagnate a little, the past month has shown me that things are slowly getting back to normal and that, as a barrister, normal is busy, and that busy is exactly how it should be!