London calling, yes, I was there too! – Student Case Study

As an aspiring barrister, mini pupillages are not only incredibly useful to see what a careers at the bar can offer, but also essential when making applications. As part of my two week experience, I travelled to London every day and shadowed esteemed Sex Crime Barrister, Catherine Milson to all court trials and client meetings. The experience of being in court everyday was incredibly educational, as I learnt the correct procedure when conducting a trial, how to address the judge and also watched some incredible displays of advocacy in cross examination and closing speeches.

Every day, Catherine asked me to take notes, in order to capture an accurate depiction of the witness accounts which provided more clarity for factual inconsistencies. I felt very valued on this experience, as my work was needed and I didn’t feel like an unwanted guest. On one occasion, Catherine said she trusted me enough to write an opening statement for a specific case, which she later relied on in court. This task involved carefully reading the provided data, and choosing the appropriate information to give a simple account of the charges before the defendant. She also leant me a key legal book used by all criminal barristers, and this was incredibly useful for putting my theoretical knowledge of the law into practice.

Whilst on this experience, I also met many police officers, court clerks, ushers and judges who were all incredibly friendly and happy to share experiences. The contacts I’ve made are incredibly respected in the field, and as they can see that I’m serious about the law they have stated that I can contact them any time for guidance or advice. I felt that because I’ve worked hard these last two weeks, I’ve left a good impression and this when it comes to making applications this may prove useful.

In terms of skills I believe this experience has filled me with more confidence to converse with barristers and even to feel comfortable in the court room. Moreover this experience has shown me that while I enjoy advocacy immensely, I do not particularly want to venture into the world of crime, as at times it can be quite difficult and harrowing, particularly when dealing with child abuse. It can be not only frustrating but at times very upsetting not to win a case against a suspected rapist, and I think the pressure of this would take its toll after a while. For this reason I have decided to pursue a career in civil practice, but I am very grateful of this opportunity for clarifying that position.

Finally the experience of working in London has been invaluable. Although the commute from Kent to the capital in the first week was very hard and very expensive, I loved the ‘rat race’ through the London Underground and enjoyed the fact that after work all the shops were still open and London was still thriving so I could enjoy my evenings too.

This experience has not only been thoroughly enjoyable, but has really helped me define my ambitions for the future. I know that I definitely want to be a barrister, but that it will not be in Crime, and without this experience I’m not sure I would have reached that conclusion.

Rachel Bale is a 2nd year English and French Law student at the University of Kent


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