September/October 2022 - Onwards: Pupil Barrister, 39 Essex Chambers
I commence pupillage at 39 Essex Chambers in September/October 2022. Pupillage is the final stage of qualifying as a barrister and will be completed in chambers under the guidance and supervision of seasoned barristers. The duration is usually 12 months and it is often split into the 'first six', which is a non-practicing period, and the 'second six', where I can practise. In the former, I will observe, assist and learn from experienced barristers. In the latter, I can take my own cases.
February 2019 - Present: Representative, Free Representation Unit
Volunteering with Free Representation Unit provides the opportunity to help people with navigating and escaping complex legal issues. You also develop your skills in the process. Conferencing and client engagement. For example, in my first case, an experienced colleague and I met with the client to get an understanding of the case and fill in the evidential gaps. I allowed the upset and frustrated client to tell his story and engaged in mindful listening and showed empathy. Once he has calmed down, I asked the strategic questions that were required to present the case.
In my second case, I ensured that the Appointee read, understood and signed the representation agreement. This helped the Appointee to understand my role and the purpose of the conference. Iexplained that I had questions primarily focused on watching and restraining the client because it is important to the case. I did not explain how or why this was the case, to avoid coaching. I enquired whether she had any enquiries before asking a series of questions. finally, I closed the client conference by ensuring client had no further questions and reminded the Appointee of hearing date and time. I advised her of the format of the tribunal too.
Advocacy skills are developed too. Representing clients in tribunals provides exposure to advancing a case and arguing in the clients favour. In my first case, we helped the client to make his case clearly and provide relevant information at a personal independence payment tribunal hearing. We were successful, and the client was awarded a total of 18 points.
Written Advocacy plays a integral part in my volunteering. In my second case, I ensured the written submissions were both succinct and comprehensive to highlight the most useful and applicable points in a sizeable bundle and persuade the tribunal to find in my client's favour. Crucially, I focused on the evidence showing the difficulty in taking the client outside since that was the contentious issue. The tribunal decided the case on the written submissions on the morning of the hearing.
November 2018 - September 2019: Volunteer, Hackney Law Centre
I represented clients in PIP appeals. One case, for example, required representation at short notice. I was able to promptly learn the case bundle and research the relevant law. I also conducted conferencing before the hearing, in a private room to ensure confidentiality. I explained to her the hearing process and judging panel formation and its independence. I made sure not to coach the client by saying ‘they will ask you about the evidence, what you can do and what you cannot’ rather than giving specific examples of potential questions.
The Respondent had prepared for a different matter, which was not in dispute. I orally persuaded the tribunal to proceed on the PIP appeal by highlighting that an adjournment would be the only other option, which would be unfair to the client. The case bundle only dealt with the PIP aspect and I could not have gone beyond it. The tribunal asked the client questions and interjecting was unnecessary. This was the correct approach, given that the tribunal seemed to be persuaded by the written submissions. We won the case and the tribunal gave its judgement in around 20 minutes. The client was elated, and she could now get the support she needed, which was rewarding.
At the weekly drop-in sessions, I assisted clients with completing their welfare benefit forms, mandatory reconsideration and statement of reasons.
Research is essential to advocacy as it enables a strong understanding of the facts and relevant legal materials. I became familiar with an array of welfare laws through this role. For example, I found a means of establishing a right to reside as part of my colleague's advice to a client who is a Zambrano carer. The Council stopped her entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, and this resulted in rent arrears. A right to reside would reverse the decision.
September 2018: Mini-Pupillage, Wilberforce Chambers
I researched partnerships law for my supervisor who was asked to help a firm of solicitors operating without written partnership. I learned that partnerships can be implied and, as a general rule, the arrangement is likely to be a partnership if it appears to be a partnership. Sharing net profits is another indication. I also investigated bankruptcy law.
I attended a Costs and Case Management Conference concerning a right of way and trespass and shadowed a Master in the Insolvency and Companies Court. I learned that Insolvency is procedural and different from human rights law in that everything is set out in statute, which is often followed step by step. Cases in the Insolvency and Companies Courts are heard at pace; they are often only a few minutes long. Common themes are wanting an adjournment to create for time to settle debts and petitioning for bankruptcy and achieving the common goal of settling the debt.
I was able to develop my understanding of advocacy too. I saw the importance of being clear and concise in oral advocacy because the hearings are short.
June - July 2018: Assessed Mini-Pupillage, Monckton Chambers
I was given the responsibility of checking submissions and writing our reply in the L case in the Upper Tribunal. It was concerned with Regulation 4(c) of the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations and its compliance with Article 14 and Article 2 Protocol 1 of the European Convention of Human Rights. I thought that Regulation(1)(c) was clearly freestanding rather than a tendency linked to a recognised impairment. The key is in the phrase ‘other conditions’. This seemed to create two classes of disabled people; those who are physically aggressive and those who did not have this characteristic. The barrister said my reply was 'very good'. I made a point that the barrister used in court, although I cannot say for sure that he would not have found it himself.
I saw the case being heard, which allowed insight into how the barrister summarised the opposition's argument before offering an alternative. It was interesting to see that that the barrister distributed a speaker’s note to the court to help people follow and checked during lunch how his arguments were being received by the judge.
I completed a review of a JR bundle on a case questioning the legality of adopting and maintaining the Resource Level Policy. It was not complaint with s42 of the Childrens and Families Act 2014 because of the obligation to ensure a specified special education provision for each child or young person. It also breached the safeguarding welfare of children obligation under s175 Education Act 2002 and s18 Childrens Act 2004. Reducing the funding for each child/young person by 5% and the lack of consultation breached both of these provisions too. The Plan Format Policy also breached safeguarding and the public sector equality duty.
June 2018: Mini-Pupillage, Doughty Street Chambers
I went to court with my supervising barrister, who was representing the local authority, in a mental health case regarding a person’s institutionalisation. I was surprised as to how much collaboration, with the other side and judge, went into these cases. My supervisor met with the Official Solicitor’s barrister and the person’s social worker to find a resolution that would enable the person to move into a home vacancy. In court, it was less adversarial than I thought and focused on achieving possible outcomes.
I observed a different barrister in the First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum). This was an enlightening experience since it provided an opportunity to see how disabled barristers overcome obstacles since both barristers had hearing impairments. One barrister used a Stenotype, in order to know what people were saying in court. Such solutions might help in my career.
I read the papers and researched the law for and was present at a post-inquiry review. A man had died after going to the GP with tightness and pains in the neck, chest base and shoulders and had been sent home. I became familiar with medical guidance given by NICE and the BMI by preparing for the review. I also became wiser as to structure. The barrister started by discussing the inquiry outcome, comparing it with what they wanted and considering how the review was useful. The barrister then gave the family three main avenues: a civil claim; complaining to the GMC; and asking the practice for a final letter before going to the parliamentary ombudsman.
April - May 2018: Work Experience, Mishcon de Rea
I was trusted to carry out a due diligence exercise and complete a compliance check on the papers of a company and its subsidiaries for my client company who wanted to buy it. Each subsidiary had a hotel. One owner’s name was inconsistent on the paperwork. The insurance policy only covered two of the three hotels owned by the subsidiaries. The insurance appeared to be out of date and under an insurer with an unusual address saying both Manchester and Bristol. The owners of the company my client wanted to buy were named specifically on the insurance. There was also a clause preventing deep fat frying that may affect my client’s food plans. Clarification from the company was required in all of these issues.
I researched how a parent company can remove directors from its subsidiaries, of which it had recently become aware. I discovered that model articles, as set out in Article 18 of the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008, were used by the subsidiaries. The articles stated that the directors can be removed in accordance to the Companies Act 2006. This require an ordinary resolution at a general meeting. 28 clear days special notice is required for the meeting and the resolution because a director is being removed. This can be done directly for in a newspaper advertisement if direct notice is not possible. The director concerned entitled to send representations that have to be circulated before the meeting. Only a simple majority vote in favour was required since it is an ordinary resolution.
I found corporate law interesting despite not having prior experience. It is technical and is often set out in black letter law and regulations rather than case law.
August 2015: Works Experience, BLM
I worked on a range of personal injury and occupational disease cases, which was a fantastic opportunity to explore different legal areas and utilise legal analysis in cases involving clients in a leading law firm. This provided for an invigorating experience of learning the operations of a successful firm filled with friendly staff and lawyers but confirmed my desire for the Bar given my drive for advocacy and specialism. I learned what was expected from counsel by the professional client and this will assist with my career at the Bar.
August 2015: Mini-Pupillage, Coram Chambers
I observed several barristers in the Central Family Court, and this fully illustrated how family law affects many lives and requires empathy and personal understanding. The style and range of advocacy that I observed showed me that a family law practitioner undertakes vastly different advocacy depending on the case, the client and the area of law in which they are working.
Family law is fascinating because you can be advising a HNWI on Trusts Law at a conference in the morning and in the afternoon representing a vulnerable family in a public law case against the state.
Witnessing negotiation outside the courtroom to 'narrow the issues' showed the work done outside the Court to seal the case. I saw how the nature of the cases were key to avoiding an adversarial trial, which is too often detrimental to family life. The barristers I shadowed would explore any areas of flexibility to find compromises and common ground.
June 2015: Works Experience, Matrix Chambers
I shadowed Karon Monaghan QC and another barrister in the Court on Appeal as they challenged the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeals Tribunal fees on the grounds of discrimination and EU law. Karon’s confident and calm advocacy was an enlightening example. I try to replicate her composed and self-assured style when I am delivering advocacy.
August 2014 - July 2015: Advising Team Leader, Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre
Being an Advising Team Leader presented the opportunity to be a team player as cooperation with the LAC management, the Support Team and Student Advisors to ensure seamless running of the centre and maintain a cheerful atmosphere. Professionalism and a positive attitude were, therefore, required. Supporting Student Advisors demanded excellent leadership and managerial skills as they need guidance to find their feet in an unfamiliar role. Effective thinking, communication and presentation of information where necessary to give such direction in order to answer questions and inform of LAC practices and procedures. Leading a team of intelligent Advisors called for integrity, initiative, focus and the ability to cope under pressure and to motivate.
Student Advisors came with problems, including being unsure as to the expectations of the role, managing numerous commitments, needing clarification on LAC’s practices and procedures and uncertainty as to how their research should be completed. My role exposure to having responsibility towards a group of people. Quick thinking and the abilities to reason, guide and support were often demanded. Knowledge of discrimination law, criminal law, immigration law, human rights law and family law was often called upon in light of my responsibility towards those on the Pink Law Project, which advises the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and the Immigration Law programme.
General tasks included helping with training and development, completing paperwork, handling initial questions and concerns, helping with promotional events, personnel duties, reporting to senior management, after advice session office hours and explaining LAC procedures and processes.
August 2014 - July 2015: Intern, Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre
I wrote various different articles for its now defunct blog. The articles, however, can still be found on this website's blog. I also did the research and materials for its new revenge porn programme. The task included putting together training materials for the students, which contained all the relevant laws and how to apply them as well as good practice and useful resources.
I helped with training and development, completing paperwork, handling initial questions and concerns, promotional events, personnel duties, reporting to senior management, after advice session office hours and explaining LAC procedures and processes.
Sept 2012 - Jun 2014: Student Advisor, Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre
I prepared for cases by researching the area of law more broadly. One case involving a neighbour dispute particularly required study as there were potential criminal and civil complaints. The client had a range of issues relating to harassment, nuisance, trespass, battery, assault occasioning actual body harm and the police failing to take action.
The client was clearly distressed and, as a result, he required my compassion and attentiveness when interviewing him. Highlighting key information was essential given that he told lengthy stories.
I used clear and precise communication to ensure that the client could answer questions that would impact the advice given. Covering all parts of the case in a concise way demanded that I succinctly summarise the facts of the case from a large quantity of information. The advice needed appropriate headings and structure, which I implemented.
Oct 2007: Legal Intern, Wealth and Investment Management at Barclays
This role allowed for improved awareness of the accuracy required in legal writing and how precise it needs to be by creating and proof-reading wills. It required the ability to swiftly adapt to new situations by working in this unfamiliar environment rapidly learn and master specialist computer software used to create wills. Communication skills were demanding when talking to others ensuring an effective will-writing process.