Each month one of our pupils will reflect on their experience as a pupil barrister. Below are reflections from Gareth-Lee Smith on his first two months.
Nearly two months have passed since I began pupillage in October. The stand-out takeaway has been that I have begun a steep learning curve, and this is notwithstanding the fact that I had an extensive practice as a county court advocate practising in civil matters prior to commencing pupillage.
In my first few weeks I have been exposed to a number of practice areas that I have never experienced before. Social housing and children matters (public and private) have been standard fayre, because these are the key areas of practice for my supervisor. But I have also undertaken a large amount of paperwork for personal injury matters, and I have been exposed to Crime for the first time. My work commitments have been challenging but manageable through a combination of my own time management and my supervisor’s attempts to ensure that I am not completely deluged with work falling due on the same deadlines.
Above all, though, I feel that I have been able to take a front-row seat watching exceptional advocates ply their trade. My supervisor demonstrates skills in advocacy that I had not seen before during my time in the small claims courts across the Midland Circuit; boxing witnesses into a corner as a series of undeniable propositions led to inescapable conclusions. I had the opportunity to see one of our most experienced practitioners give a closing speech for the Prosecution in a case where I had heard none of the evidence and yet could picture the scene vividly. Surely enough, conviction followed.
I feel that I am slowly absorbing sufficient knowledge and skill that I will eventually be ready to be on my feet in a little over four months’ time. I know that I have the support and assistance of all of my colleagues in chambers, and I know that help is only an email or phone call away. My application to undertake pupillage at St Ives Chambers was predicated on the basis that I would learn from barristers who are outstanding in their fields, and that is exactly what is happening.