Currently doing the standard Friday night Chiltern train run back home. Except this time, it’s not totally standard. Having sat in five hours of back to back conferences, totally brain frazzled and hungry, today I left chambers having completed my first six pupillage. That is to say, from Monday- off I go into the big bad world, to represent clients and *try* and defend their liberty. All on my tod.
I don’t know where the time went. It’s such an overused cliche – but I don’t actually know. It just seemed to evaporate. And now looking back- most of it feels like a blur, whilst some things stick in mind.
I remember clearly all the pre pupillage prep. The need (!) for an entire new wardrobe, flying the nest, excitement leading up to call day, anticipation as to who my supervisor would be and whether they would be mean. I remember receiving an email from mine introducing himself. I remember clearly where I was- the Westfield Stratford bridge. I remember analysing the email to figure out what he would be like. I concluded he sounded nice. But I was still shitting it.
The only thing I remember about pupillage induction was how my lovely black and gold smart flats literally killed my feet and I was left hobbling into chambers. It’s also where I got my first ever blue book. I haven’t worn those shoes since.
So day 1 of pupillage dawned. I remember waking up to a beautiful morning with wisps of sun and cloud in the sky. I wore a black shirt which is now two sizes too big and off I went. I went to meet my supervisor at Southwark Crown Court which soon became my favourite court I think-because I spent so much time there- not because of the canteen food.
We were meant to meet at about 9am and I remember I got there super early. First time for everything.
I waited for about thirty minutes in the downstairs foyer and I had heard nothing from him. I think I sent a text I can’t quite remember. I recall wondering whether he had forgotten he had a pupil! I eventually plucked up the courage to call him, and he was in the canteen- the one you should never eat at. Up I went to first floor.
I had an idea of what he looked like from the website and all the pre reading I had attempted to do on him. Went over and introduced myself and sat opposite him on one of those awkward joined up seat table things. He was sat working at his laptop with lots of paperwork. Something which was always characteristic of him – using ‘dead’ time efficiently and getting something done! I remember little about the conversation but I remember he outlined some basics of how he liked to work. Particularly poignant, was him saying he wasn’t the type of supervisor who was going to take me down the pub for drinks. It was from then that I knew we would get on.
We were at the early stages of a multi handed money laundering trial. I had been sent the opening note before hand and was like wtf is boiler fraud?! I was convinced I would not particularly enjoy if. Lo and behold 2-3 weeks later when the trial had finished, we got our acquittal – I actually had really enjoyed it.
Everything else about day 1 is a blur apart from the following. We went back to chambers and I was asked to put some papers into a file. It took me about two hours and I remember thinking at the time- this guy thinks I’m a complete numpty. This was further compounded by the fact it took me about five minutes to figure out how to use the monster of a hole punch. Thank god I did. We are now friends – despite the fact I broke it at some point down the line.
I also remember my now beloved supervisor firing questions at me. This tradition followed relentlessly for at least the first four weeks. I often wondered how I even passed bar school and why didn’t I remember anything! The question on the first day was disclosure related. Time limit for serving a defence case statement. Basic stuff. But not on day 1 pupillage when you’re dying of sacredness & all of the BPTC has been emptied from your brain! My reply was 14 days. I was told it was incorrect. However upon reflection – it was kinda right. For the mags at least 😉
I left feeling exhausted, excited and shitting it.
Which ironically is exactly the same as I feel now. Six months on. But now, more excitement than anything else.
Wish I had started this blog then because it’s so hard to recall. Things always look different from this end. There have been so many poignant moments. Acquittals, diamond earrings, confused verdicts, finding that one authority that gets an anticipated four year sentence down by ¾, celebrities in court, the glamour of the Old Bailey, shadowing the Prime Minister’s brother, brilliant advocacy training, dropping two dress sizes and weening off caramel lattes in favour of the 99p white filters from Pret.
Looking back there were times I thought I couldn’t do this. I remember week 4 specifically and the tears on the early morning train to Hartford. There was something about that particular week. But I survived it. And like with everything, you get through and you grow. It is amazing how your body adjusts, sleeping pattern adjusts, emotional and mental and physical expectations/demands/limits adjust when you are thrown into the deep end and expected to swim. You start by semi drowning, then you start kicking your feet and manage to get your head above water, then you do a star shape float and then you’re able to paddle along for a bit. That’s where I’m at now. Not quite swimming. But paddling.
My swimming analogy is a testament to the miracle that is human being ness.
For me, there can be no greater indication of the presence of the Almighty.
Even at the most pushed, the most stretched – no hardship is too heavy for one to bear.
I’ve started writing and adding to this blog post at various points. So where it started on a train journey back home for the weekend, it ends having just packed my wig and gown and *heels* in prep for tomorrow’s case at Kingston crown court. Considering the solicitor strikes that are ongoing and no magistrates work, feel blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to start my first day on my feet robed up in the Crown. Praying all goes well.
I left this evening from chambers following an appraisal with my now ex-supervisor. He said me doing this hearing for him tomorrow was ‘to my utmost praise.’
This essentially marks the start of my life as an advocate. Everything I have studied towards, worked for and dreamed about.
And I start as I mean to go on.
In the name of Allah, the most merciful the most high.