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lawyers/barristers: I'm doing a mini pupillage next week - what should I expect??

(16 Posts)
fairylights Thu 17-Jul-08 14:11:40

Suddenly feeling a bit nervous about the mini pupillage I am doing next week - I am a mature student (obviously!) currently half way through my GDL. I applied for the mini-pupillage with a local chambers because I thought I would like to see what barristers get up to all day (!)assuming I would not get offered it but I did. I am pretty sure I am not cut out to be a barrister but I am still very interested <nosey> about what they do and feel lucky to have to chance to do this...
But I have never even been in a court room that is session before and don't want to embarrass myself. What should I expect on that front?
And will the barrister concerned just see me as a minor irritation to be ignored at breaks and lunchtime or should I try to be enthusiastic and inquistive??
Any advice welcome!
And I assume I am OK wearing a grey-ish suit?!
TIA smile

MrsTeasdale Thu 17-Jul-08 14:27:31

It will depend very much on who you sit with, and how much work they've got on/how stressful the case is.

In court:
Ask the barrister (or the instructing solicitors) where to sit. They will probably ask you to sit either behind the barrister (with the solicitors) or possibly further behind them. It will be more interesting to sit with the solicitors as you'll be able to look at the papers everyone is referring to.
When the judge comes in stand up and bow when everyone else does. Then sit down. Ditto when the judge leaves - stand up and bow with everyone else. If you need to leave court in between, you're meant to bow to the judge at the door (but won't really matter if you forget)).

At lunch:
Play it by ear, but I would just ask if the barrister would prefer you to leave him/her alone for a while. Lunchtimes can be vital prep time, so they might not want to be disturbed. You could offer to go and get sandwiches for everyone? On the other hand you might get a sociable sort, so just be prepared for anything!

I would feel free to ask any questions about the case or life at the bar - thats what you're there for.

Hope you enjoy it!

ps - yes re the suit.

fairylights Fri 18-Jul-08 14:42:17

thanks MrsTeasdale - all v helpful.

Bump for anyone else! smile

fairylights Sun 20-Jul-08 09:46:32

last bump..

emskaboo Mon 21-Jul-08 17:23:33


I hope you see this. It depends on who you do it with, I've done two and they were both quite different, both with chambers in London. I think MrsTeasdales covered it all really. I loved both of mine, got to hang with various barristers and the clerk was very nice at both chambers about letting me go with barristers who dealt with areas of law I would like to practice. Lots of luck, enjoy it!

fairylights Tue 22-Jul-08 20:05:44

just saw that - thanks emskaboo!
Am enjoying it so far although the cases have not been scintillating (sp?) I guess I am getting a good insight into the realities of life at the Bar, especially for more junior barristers.
Are you a barrister now emskaboo? Did you study for it since you have had kids? Would be interested to hear your story if you have! Or if you have become a solicitor (which is prob what i will do..). Cheers smile

Judy1234 Tue 22-Jul-08 20:33:20

Glad it's going well. It's a good way to see how things are. My daughters are both doing law and they and their friends are all doing this kind of stuff. I know my older daughter mentioned quite a few more mature students on her course. Good luck with it.

fairylights Tue 22-Jul-08 21:04:36

thanks Xenia - might I venture to ask if you are a barrister yourself? From reading your posts I have never quite worked out what you do, but figure it is something in the Law! I'd be interested to know if you think a woman (with a very supportive DH) can start out and forge a successful legal career - even perhaps as a barrister - with a young family?? It seems to me that it might be possible as a solicitor, but probably impossible as a barrister..?

Lilymaid Tue 22-Jul-08 21:09:05

Fairylights - I've experience of working in a barristers' chambers (not as a barrister though). I reckon it is very hard work to start up when you already have a family. We have quite a few women barristers and virtually all have children but they built up their experience before having them. When you aren't established you need to be flexible so you can take almost anything available, often at short notice. When you have more experience you can be more selective and can afford to work more family friendly hours.

Katsh Tue 22-Jul-08 21:17:59

Glad mini pupillage is going well. I was a barrister and found I couldn't continue with young children. You have to be flexible and available so unless you have full time child care available I think it's pretty impossible. I could have worked "part time" on a case by case basis, but it wouldn't have been fixed and I would have had to have child care available at all times so that if a case was extended or changed dates then I could still do it. Tbh this was too expensive an option for me to pursue. The women in my chambers who did keep working with young children all had full time nannies or family members who could act as emergency child carers. I loved my job, but if I'd known then what I know now I would have become a solicitor instead!

Judy1234 Tue 22-Jul-08 21:59:15

I don't really want to say what I do but in a lot of professions you can enter as a mature entrant. If you're a barrister it would solely be a question of whether you were good enough to attract work once you had a tenancy. I don't see why having children has much to do with it.

The suggestion that mothers but not fathers can't do certain work because they cannot be free at certain times is just really sexist. There is no reason men can't be the ones to find and manage child care and get home first unless people have chosen a sexist partner. In plenty of careers women do well because they're very good at what they do.

I think it's a mentality issue. I never felt I wanted to be with the children 24/7. I never felt particularly guilty about working late or at a weekend or early because I knew they had good care when I was away and that when I was there I was doing a pretty good job. Plenty of men and women have that view. So it's not so much the children as keep women down and dirty in the kitchen but their views of what they're prepared to do and aren't prepared to do in terms of work. I'm happily working all summer holidays, no problem, don't mind that. My sister who earns a fraction of what I do is taking more time off. My brother just took 2 weeks off to be with his children so people just make their own choices in terms of work. Some have no children but choose to spend a lot of time on their hobbies.

All I can say is if you earn a lot you can get really good help with cleaning and child care and things are a lot easier. If instead you're the office cleaner it all becomes harder. Thus women are better off in these better paid more interesting jobs.

beeny Tue 22-Jul-08 22:11:02

I think other people have already answered questions about how to behave,i am working parttime as a criminal barrister and have been very lucky with work.Am happy to answer any questions

fairylights Wed 23-Jul-08 20:52:30

thanks to all of you - beeny: how have you managed it?! Although am pretty sure i will become a solicitor its interesting to hear how you have coped..

emskaboo Wed 23-Jul-08 21:32:50

Hi Fairylights,

I didn't qualify no, I decided to go the solicitor route as it was employed rather than self employed and felt more secure. I had a training contract lined up and then had to pull out for financial reasons, we just could afford for me to take the wage cut from my salary to the £15,000 I'd get as a trainee, sad. But on the upside as our financial situation improves I'm looking at it again and the wonderful firm that offered me a contract (all women, legal aid) have said they'd still offer me a training contract if I can find a way of managing fnancially. [hopeful emoticon] Lots of luck to you, I remember the GDL with fondness but the LPC, bleurghhh!


Judy1234 Wed 23-Jul-08 23:00:22

I think my daughter's TC pays about £35k a year and they paid her fees etc so if you shop around for the right firm it can become financially better.

Cashncarry Wed 23-Jul-08 23:13:44

Fairylights - lots of great ideas on here so good luck next week smile

FWIW - my experience is that I did my exams before having a family but couldn't take the pay cut to do the training contract until after DD was born. I originally decided to train in non-contentious law (conveyancing - yawn!) but did a short 3 month secondment in another firm to fulfil the requirements of doing contentious law.

To cut a long story short (!) it was such great fun that when the secondment firm offered me a job after I qualified, I jumped at the chance and am now doing family law which involves a lot of advocacy. If you're worried about the idea of being self-employed as a barrister, this might be the way to go I think. I get the best of both worlds 'cos I get plenty of court work but mostly my days are manageable enough for me to get home in time if not to pick DD up then certainly to put her to bed.

I'd say that you should keep getting as much experience as you can in different fields before picking your chosen field - any chance you can do some unpaid work for a solicitors to get a feel for it? I approached my Local Council and did four weeks unpaid wk for them before I got my training contract as well as the odd day here and there shadowing different solicitors. It made all the difference to my cv too!

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