I write this as I am sat in the robing room at Nottingham Crown Court on the first day I am “on my feet”. Among the nerves building of my first ever hearing, reflecting on my first six is a comforting experience.

The first six months of my pupillage were truly fantastic experience. Every day was different and full of so much opportunity to learn how to effectively manage all of the odd occurrences that arise at the criminal bar. I am very grateful to have had such a supportive supervisor whom I felt fully inspired by the light that he has brought to the darkest of cases. The criminal bar can be tough and not for the faint hearted, some people have been victims of serious crimes, others are going to prison for a long time, both of which can be as difficult as the other.

Through seeing a wealth of prosecution and defence work, I have been able to develop key networks with employees of the CPS, solicitors, other barristers and even given the opportunity to marshal multiple judges. I have seen so many different styles of advocacy and witness handling techniques which has been invaluable and something I will take on to develop my own style. The true talent comes with something my supervisor describes as plate spinning. The courts are busy and there is always a lot going on. Whilst sometimes it’s a rush to squeeze all of your cases into a short space of time in multiple different courts there can often be lots of ‘waiting to get on’ and the main thing to take from that is to expect the unexpected!

Throughout the six months, I have practised my skills in drafting opening notes, sentencing notes, skeletons for legal argument and oral submissions for closing speeches. I have also been lucky enough to have had two trips to the Court of Appeal viewing some of the more senior level of advocacy, legal research, and bundle preparation there is. These included a death by dangerous driving case and the intricacies of the legitimacy of a hospital order. But first six has been so much more than all things law. I have learnt so much about how to balance life at the bar and the rest of your life (which is important to maintain!). From school runs, to flat tyres, to trouser shopping and the gluing of shoes, it has been a true reflection of the demands and freedoms of self-employed life.

I am so excited at the thought of commencing my second-six and being able to have the good and the bad days of my own but most importantly to hopefully be that person who brings the light to the case of those I represent.

Jemma Stanford