Legal 500

First Six Pupillage Experience

Timothy Wake:

On my first day of pupillage, I did not know what to expect. I knew the basics of what pupillage was supposed to be like but practically I really had no idea. I thought it would be like an extended mini-pupillage, however although in a mini-pupillage you get a taste for what pupillage is like, the “full-fat” version is more hard-work, more mentally stimulating, more stressful, more rewarding and more fun.

On my first day I came into chambers and was shown to my room by the Senior Clerk, Jason. There I met my pupil supervisor, James Tunley and his room-mate, John Ditchburn and from then onwards I was immersed in my supervisor’s busy practice.

In the first week we were in court twice and in the second, I spent three days with my supervisor in Kent observing an Employment Tribunal hearing. Throughout pupillage, this has continued and I have been in court on average of once or twice a week, either with my pupil supervisor or another tenant. All of which is invaluable experience and each day feels like a new adventure.

My supervisor will give me the instructions he receives first and I will work on them, whether it is drafting, giving advice or even prepping for a trial. This means I am working on exactly the same cases that he is and has given me such a great insight into what it actually is like to be a barrister. We will discuss the cases throughout the day and ask each other’s opinion. This opportunity to learn from an experienced practitioner is second to none and really what stands out for me as being the most rewarding part of pupillage.

The areas of work my supervisor specialises in are varied and has ranged from defending personal injury claims to representing parties in the coroners court. Some cases can be weird and wonderful with interesting litigants in person and have certainly prepared me to expect anything when I am on my feet.

Another rewarding aspect of pupillage is being able to bounce ideas off tenants, especially in our room, and they will do the same with you. Everyone is very friendly and you do not feel like you are disturbing anyone when asking for an opinion, it’s the opposite, everyone is so glad to help, but everyone in pupillage should be expected to get involved.

I have had the opportunity to undertake work for other members of chambers too and because everyone has their own specialisms, I have been able to work on even more varied cases in areas such as aviation and banking.

Outside of work, life in chambers is also great fun. Whether its drinks at the pub on a Friday night or the sponsored London Legal Walk, you really feel like a member of the team and these opportunities are a great chance to get to know everyone.

Whether I have been in court, drafting, giving opinions, in the library researching, writing articles for chambers’ website or even socialising, first six pupillage at 4 KBW is a package and one that I know has prepared me not only for my second six, but also set me up for my first years as a junior practitioner.