At 42BR, the pupillage year comprises four 3-month periods, including a 3-month civil law seat, a 3-month family law seat, a couple of weeks’ observation of juniors before getting on your feet, and the 6-month practising period.
My pupillage commenced with a 3-month employment law seat. If attending a hearing, I would typically be tasked with taking a full note of the proceedings. If this was not required, I would make my own notes, typically on good EIC/XX questions, things that were unfamiliar (to research in full later), observations on court mannerisms etc.
Since the diaries of employment barristers don’t tend to require tribunal appearances every day of the week, if I was not attending a hearing I would do work for my supervisor, or other members of chambers. I undertook tasks across a wide range of areas of practice, including housing, commercial, family and employment law. Most often, colleagues would ask me to write research notes in response to a specific question, but I would also be asked to proof-read or draft court documents myself.
Next, I began a 3-month family law seat. This area of practice typically involves much more frequent court appearances, so a typical day in my life as a pupil looked quite different.
On one occasion, I began my day at the RCJ, where I took a note at an urgent hearing (having read the relevant case papers the previous afternoon, and created a brief chronology, cast list and case summary for my own reference). This finished around midday, so I headed back to chambers. After a quick feedback chat with a colleague about some work I had previously done for him, I finished off my note of the hearing and sent it to my supervisor.
I then began reading two bundles for a hearing the next day, only pausing to observe my supervisor in an advocates’ meeting held on Teams, which had been scheduled in advance of the next day’s hearing, and to attend an in-house seminar on DOL orders.
One of the best parts of my pupillage thus far has undoubtedly been the support that I have received from colleagues in chambers. No question ever feels too silly to ask, and colleagues are always willing to share their specialist knowledge – for example, both internal and public seminars are regularly delivered on procedural and substantive legal matters.
Additionally, my supervisors have given me latitude where necessary to pursue my own interests, allowing me to undertake legal mentoring and volunteering commitments, and to take the time to qualify as a mediator during my pupillage year.
Overall, this has ensured that my pupillage has felt more like a true opportunity to learn as much as possible and develop my own legal practice than a year-long, nerve-wracking job interview.
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