I am now a little over two months into my pupillage at KCH Garden Square and, whilst I have not yet lost the ‘pinch-me’ feeling from day one, I have already accumulated a wealth of experience to equip me for my career at the family bar. Under the supervision of Sam Coe and Louise Sapstead, I have seen a plenitude of interesting cases. These have ranged from a High Court decision that there should be no fact finding hearing despite a baby having sustained broken ribs in the care of her parents, to bread-and-butter removal hearings and applications for shared care.
Throughout, I have been challenged and supported in equal measure. I have prepared my supervisors’ cases as though they were my own, completed a variety of drafting, conducted legal research and even practised some oral advocacy. I am never left in the dark, as my supervisors continually discuss my development and offer useful feedback. In addition, many others at chambers make themselves available to answer any query I may have. It is evident that everyone I have encountered in my set genuinely cares about my progression as an advocate and my training has been designed to give me all of the necessary skills to manage my own practice.
In the midst of the 2023 pupillage application process, I thought I’d share something of my own experience. I sympathise with the gruelling nature of it all. It is a tough process, and one which certainly builds resilience. I did not walk straight from education into pupillage, but rather, on completion of the bar course, I chose to bolster my experience by working as a paralegal at a local family law firm. This allowed me to gain soft skills and insight into family law in practice, standing me in good stead as a pupillage candidate. In terms of the interview stage, I found that I presented best when not trying to be who I thought my panel wanted, but applying my own take to the questions and allowing my personality to show. My advice to any pupillage applicant would be just that – be unashamedly yourself. This will open you up to showcase your strengths whilst also connecting with the barristers interviewing you.
Prior to obtaining pupillage, my route to the bar was coloured by a love for advocacy. This began at university, where I competed in moots each year. I then explored appellate advocacy during my year abroad in the US, where I took part in a mock trial. I took the bar course with a Pro Bono LLM in which I worked in a legal clinic, offering advice to victims of domestic abuse. Following the bar course and prior to becoming a paralegal, I was a County Court Advocate which offered me my first real-life experience on my feet.
It is thrilling to think that now I am near halfway through my first-six, soon to be on my feet as a pupil barrister.