Tuesday, 1 July 2008

And now, the end is near...

OK. I’m not even going to begin apologising for the time it has taken me to post a new blog. If you have read my previous postings you will, by now, understand why it is nigh-on impossible to write something on a regular basis. There is one blogger that I have referred to previously who shamelessly puts that theory to the sword who, when I had time to read his/her blog would publish on an almost daily basis with intelligent and funny stories that made crucial reading to up-coming and present pupils; myself included.

Right then, an update as to my progress, in case anyone is interested…
The work that I am doing has increased both in volume, quality and, best of all remuneration. I got paid a four-figure sum for a small hearing that I did recently. Granted, I had to buy a train ticket to Devon and pay for a hotel room out of that, but I’m still smiling – or I will be if/when the cheque from the solicitors arrives. I’m now doing a bit of fast-track work which is nice because of the better fees involved….oh, I can’t do this….I have so much to tell you and am trying to procrastinate to build the drama. Oh well, here goes.

Firstly, my chambers has a ritual whereby the pupils have to fight it out in an advocacy exercise in front of all the members of chambers. This is done around three weeks before the tenancy decision and therefore has everything riding on it. I cannot begin to tell you how nervous I was. Being in court every day and trying to do as much [good] work for members of chambers at the same time it was difficult finding the time to prepare. The assessment was judged by a [past] member of chambers who is a High Court Judge. Everyone said beforehand that he was a thoroughly delightful chap who would not try to catch us out. Bollocks. He may well have been a thoroughly nice chap and, by all accounts, he is. But the very first thing he did was to throw me the biggest curve-ball in history. It had both myself and the other pupil scrabbling around the White Book aimlessly, trying to look as if we knew where redemption lay. We didn’t. The Judge addressed me. Help! I did the only thing I could: I blagged it. It seemed to work and we moved on. Anyway, long story short, we both did fine and it was over.

The chambers meeting for the tenancy decision came around three weeks later. Nervous though I was, I do not exaggerate when I say that I was considerably more nervous about the advocacy exercise. I felt a little numb as the hours passed on “the” day. When I was able to think logically and put emotion to one side, I thought that, overall, had performed fairly well during my pupillage, I had got on with everyone, not pissed anyone off (to the best of my knowledge) and so things should be alright. Those brief moments of clarity were but a drop in the ocean of ifs, buts and “if I don’t get it, I’m quitting the bar”, etc. I left chambers around 17.50, whilst all the excitement and the buzz had already begun in earnest all around me. I should have left by around 17.30 (meeting was at 18.00) but, impressively, I was still rather busy with work. I took a wander down the embankment and eventually found a bench near the London Eye. I sat. I waited for the call. I squinted uncomfortably in the late afternoon sun and thought about nothing else but tenancy. I tried reading but couldn’t. Made a few calls but they did not last long because I did not want to risk missing the call.

The call from my pupil-master came. Quite late (relatively). To find out what he said, keep reading and I will post again soon……kidding! I wouldn’t do that to you. It was good news. He shot the breeze with me for the first 30 seconds and made the odd joke at which point I thought he must have good news otherwise he wouldn’t be doing this – it would be too cruel. I was right. I was offered a tenancy and I quickly accepted. I am fortunate enough to belong to a great set and I have now achieved what I set out so to do, all those years ago. Now the real work begins….

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Where has the time gone?


I'm in my second sixth. Moreover, I'm a month-and-a-half into it.

I have been on my feet virtually every day, across the length and breadth of the country.

I know it's been ridiculously long since my last post but I very much doubt that anyone is reading this anyway - I suppose this is more of a pupillage diary for me, rather than an actual blog.

Anyway, the gap between this and last post may not be enthralling, but it should give you a good idea of what will happen to you and your life in the last few months of your first-sixth and the start of your second (who knows how the remaining time will pan out?!).

As I said, I am on my feet every day and the clerks keep me very busy indeed. I am in a civil set so the work at the junior end of chambers is rather restricted. Mostly small claims (involving Road Traffic Accidents and the odd contractual dispute), infant approvals, possession orders and the like.

I get to travel all over the country -yay- from Cardiff to Worthing, Walsall to Colchester; and many more besides. It is incredibly tiring, especially as my solicitors have a habit of briefing me at 5-6pm with a cross-country hearing the next morning.

The pay is not bad. So far it varies from £100 for the most minor application to around £400 for the furthest flung hearing. In the six weeks that I have been on my feet, I have so far received three cheques, which isn't bad all things considered.

More soon.....I hope....

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

My thoughts after 100+ days

I promised myself that I would not be one of those bloggers that publishes a few posts and then largely forgets about it. I am exactly that person. Kind of.

It's not that I totally forgot about the existence of my blog, it was more a question of priorities. Do the blog, don't do your work, don't get tenancy. That's how my mind worked anyway. You will notice the past tense of the verb "work". That is because, three and a half months into my pupillage, I have stopped caring. Not only about my pupillage, but about life in general - a year of subservience in chambers will do that to you. I have some sage advice for anyone thinking of coming to the bar: don't do it.

Joking aside, I have been kept very busy. I am actually very lucky in my set or, at least with the Master, as I do get constant work to get on with, but it's rarely unfairly voluminous and he is always around to help me. I put my hands up and admit that the amount of work should not have stopped me publishing but....I can't quite explain it. Perhaps those of you reading this that are presently undergoing pupillage will know what I mean but, it's as if there is some dark force hanging over you throughout which saps any good intentions you may have had to be productive when you don't actually have to be. Whereas in the past I used to be really good about doing all the laundry, dishes and cleaning etc, now, when I am at home and otherwise at a loose end, I will just stare at the dishes/shirts/dust [delete as appropriate] without any intention of challenging it and just think 'Well that's not going to get me tenancy now, is it?'.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Pupil's Advocacy Course

As many of you will be aware, once you have started pupillage, you have to complete a compulsory advocacy course run by your Inn. What some of you may not realise, and certainly I did not, was that the course lasts 2 weeks!! Before you start thinking: 2 weeks holiday from chambers, woo-hoo!....think again! It was quite a lot of hard work, though ultimately useful and I made some new friends :-)

Mine just finished last week and I'm really glad its over. I'm actually looking forward to being back in chambers with some proper work to do! Maybe now I'll have more opportunity to publish some more [timely] posts.

The Noting Brief

Well, this was nice. One night in chambers, at around 6.30pm, I was given my very first brief!! OK, so it does not really count, as it was only a noting brief....but still....!!

The next morning I had to be in the Watford County Court and sit there and take notes of the proceedings. I don't know what other people make of that duty but, for me, it was every bit as arduous as I thought it was going to be. Its rather difficult to keep your attention focused for so long. Fortunately for me, the case was actually rather interesting and was made all the more entertaining by the defendant litigant in person, who abused the other participants in the proceedings at random intervals. Still, as difficult as it was, I got £125 per day and was at court for 2 days....drinks are on me......in around 3 years or so when I finally get paid for the work.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Beginning

Wow – it’s been a while since my last post. I can’t believe that I’m already into my fourth week of pupillage. Some of the other pupillage blogs that I have been reading, my favourite one in particular, contain reams of entries all about how boring it is and how one will often spend time twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do. As an indicator of how much that applies to me, just check the length of time between this and my last post. And that’s not down to my being lazy; though far be it from me to deny that particular charge altogether. OK, enough with the vaguities (sorry, not sure how you spell that one), I have been swamped!!

On my second day I had to draft a particulars of claim on a real case and hand it into my Pupil Master (hereafter, known as “The Master”, a direct homage to “Pupilblogger” who, to the best of my knowledge, was the first to coin that phrase in blawgs). I had to do another a couple of days after that and, in between and since, there have been court visits, conferences and, mostly, case reading and summarising for the master, with discussions about my conclusions.

I won’t say that any of it has been easy, because it has not. What I will say is that it has, thus far, been very enjoyable and interesting. The most difficult thing for me has, until now, been the travelling and the hours. The travelling by tube I’m used to. What I’m not used to is travelling by tube in rush hour in a nice suit with all the trimmings and being groped by all and sundry. I won’t say that isn’t enjoyable at times.....but sometimes I’d like dinner and flowers first......sometimes. My hours are officially 09:00 to 18:00, though I frequently leave well after 18:00. On my first day the master impressed upon me that I would not score any brownie points by coming in early or leaving late (though he practically winked at me when he said that he was required to say that, and other blurb, under the working time directive). Let it be said that I am under no illusion that, converse to the last couple of sentences, I am positive that it will score me brownie points if I regularly outstay my fellow barristers and the clerks. As mentioned, I have been doing that a fair bit but, and here lies the rub, it has not been intentionally as such. Sometimes I am just enjoying a good conversation and other times I just want to get something finished or, at least, make some more progress on it before leaving chambers. We shall see how long that lasts....

Finally a word on the master. Actually, he’s pretty cool. I think I have been very lucky, having heard the horror stories of others. He’s patient, generous, witty, good conversationalist and seems to be an excellent barrister too. Right now, I don’t mind being at the feet of the master – he has nice shoes.

Monday, 13 August 2007

The Doctor's Note - Part 2

It is amazing what a little bit of research on the Internet can do for you. I found a very useful little piece on sick leave, which, I am sure you will be glad to know, I used to my own shady ends.

In a nutshell, if you are off work with sickness for less than seven days, then your employer cannot require you to produce a sick certificate from your doctor. You are able to “self-certificate” for this period. These regulations come from the Department of Work & Pensions. Thus, I printed them off, highlighted the relative parts and submitted them to my manager, together with my self-certificating form (SC2, should you be interested) much to her chagrin and my self-satisfied amusement. That’d be 1-0 to me then. Talking of which.......

My 5-a-side football team played in the second annual tournament for a small charity yesterday. Last year we reached the final and lost due to a combination of being kicked all over the pitch by a bunch of violent thugs who had little interest in actually playing football and a ref who was completely gormless. We actually equalised in the last minute, the ref gave the goal and then, following our opponents’ protests, ruled it out. That one rankled for an entire year with all of us. We played the same team in the semis this year and beat them – I can’t tell you how good that felt. The final finished 0-0 and it was 1-1 after penalties. It went to sudden death and we lost it 1-0. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! As you would expect, despite being captain and being expected to lead by example, I completely bottled it and did not take a penalty. Still, I’ve always wanted to be able to say I’ve lost a final on penalties. Maybe third time lucky next year.