Before starting pupillage, I practised employment law in two City firms for seven years. I loved the work, but I found myself increasingly feeling that I would be better suited to a life at the Bar.
12KBW were extremely helpful during the pupillage process, given my work commitments. They were able to be flexible in arranging interviews, respecting the fact that I had to work full time. Additionally, on the basis of my previous experience I was granted a reduction in pupillage by the Bar Standards Board – which meant that 12KBW was happy to reduce my pupillage by three months.
Having been an employment lawyer for so long, I was keen to retain that as a key area of practice. 12KBW seemed like a natural fit, having an already established employment team that is ambitious and keen to grow. That meant I had the opportunity to be part of the team as it develops, an opportunity one does not often have as a junior lawyer.
Equally, transferring to the Bar gives you an opportunity to slightly shift your focus, developing expertise in areas you have less experience of. For me, 12KBW’s market-leading personal injury practice was a huge draw – especially in respect of specialisms that unite well with my employment practice, such as employer’s liability, stress at work and industrial disease.
As a junior barrister at 12KBW you are strongly encouraged to develop your own practice, going in the direction you want to go in. My goal is to build a ‘workplace litigation’ practice, building on my experience combining these areas – something that 12KBW’s reputation in both employment and personal injury will help me achieve.
A typical day in the second six
A typical day for a second six pupil might go something like this:
Today I have a small claims hearing in Brighton – an occupier’s liability case in which someone is suing the owner of a car park because they did not see a warning sign and drove into a bollard. I will be appearing for the Defendant. I want to be up and in Chambers early, to put the finishing touches to my skeleton and make sure I have all my materials and authorities together.
In Brighton I meet my client, who will be the Defendant’s witness for today’s hearing. While I have read his statement, I have not had the chance to meet him before, so we have an impromptu conference in a free meeting room to go over the case and for me to get a bit more colour. This proves to be very helpful, as he gives me some useful material to use in cross-examination.
The hearing is relatively straightforward. The Claimant is a litigant in person, but surprisingly well prepared. However, in the end the judge finds in favour of the Defendant, holding that there was no breach of duty. The client is pleased, as is my solicitor when I call her to update her on the outcome. I then head back to London, pausing only to grab a fish and chip lunch on the seafront before jumping on the train (well, when in Rome – or, at least, Brighton).
On the way back, I check my emails and my diary. I have a note from my supervisor thanking me for a draft advice on quantum I prepared for complex stress at work case. She tells me that some of the work I did will make its way into her skeleton argument for the hearing in a few weeks’ time, which gives me a boost.
On returning to Chambers I pop into the clerks’ room to update my clerk on what happened in Brighton, and to check my pigeonhole to see if papers have arrived for a hearing I have the day after tomorrow. They have, which is great as it means I can make a start. It is another small claims hearing – this time a dispute about a road traffic accident. Pupils in their second six at 12KBW are kept busy, so if you like being on your feet it can be a real thrill.
I return to the room I share with my supervisor to start going through the papers. I have an email from a senior member of Chambers asking if I would like to observe him in action over the next few days. He is starting a very high value case in the High Court that I helped with during my first six, and he is keen that I have the opportunity to see how it plays out – and I am very grateful he has kept me involved. I check my diary and let him know that I will come along between hearings.
The last thing in my diary for the day is a call with my instructing solicitor on an Employment Tribunal case I am working on. I have been instructed to appear for the Respondent at a one day hearing – a really good piece of work for someone in pupillage. We discuss the case and tactics involved, and I make a few notes for the skeleton argument that I will be preparing over the next few days.
One of the junior tenants in the room next to mine sticks his head round the door and suggests a quick drink in a local bar. 12KBW is a very friendly, social and collegiate place, so I go along for a beer or two – especially given today’s (little) victory in Brighton.