The highlights of some of my mini pupillages to date…

 

So over the last year I have been fortunate enough to undertake 7 mini pupillages. They have all been really interesting, insightful and extremely informative.. plus they have confirmed that I definitely do want to be a Barrister.

Below are a few particularly memorable moments…

– I was placed on a 5 day trial at Snaresbrook in September. After sitting with the Barrister for 2 days, on my third day walking through the amazing grounds at the court (I would have taken a picture but there were signs everywhere saying no phones or photos) one of the members of the jury starts to speed up and try to walk with me. Naturally I pick up my pace but she decides she wants to talk to me. She wants to have a bit of a rant about the judge. I give away no information to her but then obviously had to tell  my barrister and the other side what had happened. Despite having no rights of audience I then had to tell the judge, who said it was not my fault and I had nothing wrong but the jury would have to be dismissed and another one sworn in!

– As a girl I am always prepared for every eventuality and carry far too much stuff in my handbag, but on one occasion, having a bag I can hardly carry has proven particularly useful. Whilst in court, I spent a lot of time chatting with both barristers, and the opposing barrister always kept me well informed of her progress and let me in on her meetings etc.. One morning she came in and had forgotten tissues, highlighters, chewing gum etc, so in court she turned around and handed me a post it note asking if I had these items. Luckily I did.. and as a result of befriending opposing barristers I will be shadowing her for a bit in the summer.

– My friend and I decided to spend the day at Southwark Crown Court last summer as you do! We were scanning the boards for what would be the most interesting cases and made our way to outside one particular court room, which was packed full of family members, policemen and press. We did not realise till we were inside that we were watching the case of PC Simon Harwood in the case relating to Ian Tomlinson. We were even sat next to Simon Harwood’s wife! It was strangely bizarre but a great experience, especially when studying evidence and the use of Hearsay! Later that night we were watching television and the case was once again all over the news.

– On arriving at Snaresbrook Crown Court for the first day of another mini pupillage, the barrister I was shadowing was in a bit of a flap. He asked me what advocacy experience I had, to which I replied I have been part of the advocacy teams at University but most recently I have undertaken a 2 day advocacy (SALS) course on Advanced Applications (blog to follow). We were then discussing the case and he asked me to brief him on making an application to cross-examine a complainant’s sexual history under s.41, Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (something I had studied on the SALS Course). I thought at first he was just trying to see what I had remembered but it turned out he had had a complete mental block and his iPad was not working (with all of his case papers and legislation) and he needed me to remind him of it and explain the application and if it was relevant to the particular case. Fortunately for me, that paid off, as I have been invited back again next summer!

– At Southwark Crown Court my friend and I witnessed a judge being appalled by the sentence he was giving, and was having a bit of a rant about the English Legal System. I found this quite interesting as often people are too quick to blame judges for the short sentences they give out but actually they are very often tied by legislation from the the government which dictates how long a sentence should be for in reference to certain guidelines.

– Whilst on a mini pupillage, I was sat in the Royal Courts of Justice, and after the trial was finished the judge asked if I would go and speak with her, and she wanted to know what I was doing in court and if I would like to undertake some work with her, as by being in court I was showing initiative and commitment to the profession!

I am hoping that over the next few years I am lucky enough to undertake more mini pupillages and gain further knowledge and insight, and I will definitely keep you posted on any interesting stories!

I hope to write a blog post in the near future on some of the legal knowledge and skills I have obtained whilst on these so keep an eye out for that also.

Rebecca x

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