Can I Get a Witness?

My three day mini pupillage was a truly insightful experience which further revealed the mystical world of life at the commercial bar. Finishing my third year abroad has really pushed me to focus on exactly which area of law I would like to practise in, and the only true way to do this is to apply for various mini pupillages.

Wilberforce Chambers is an incredibly esteemed set which specialises in Property, Trusts, Wills, Pensions, Professional Negligence and others. The staff were incredibly welcoming, right from the initial acceptance phone call, and I felt as if nothing was too much trouble whilst I was there. The chambers itself was also absolutely stunning, set in the historic Lincoln’s Inn, hidden away from the busy streets of Chancery Lane. The workplace was a perfect blend of historic tradition of the exterior and modern, corporate offices inside. I enjoyed the experience of working in London, and chambers was just round the corner from the Commercial Courts.

In terms of practical experience, my first day was spent reading a case on Trusts belonging to a very wealthy family business. I was based in a very nice office, and given a plentiful supply of tea and biscuits and then after lunch, I met with a senior barrister who briefed me before a conference with the clients. Here I took many notes, and experienced client facing advisory work which is very different to court advocacy, and appreciated the exposure. I spent the second day in court watching a professional negligence case where a solicitor was being accused of fraudulent misrepresentation, which was very interesting, and I had the opportunity to debrief about the trial with the appointed junior barrister. The third day was spent in court watching yet another case, involving fraud where a brother was accused of stealing profits from his two brothers.

In addition to legal experience, this mini pupillage was a fantastic opportunity to network, both with members of chambers and other potential applicants. There were six other mini-pupils at Wilberforce, and there was plenty of opportunity throughout the three days to discuss our backgrounds and aspirations. Each lunchtime, Wilberforce sent us a senior member of chambers to answer any questions we had, and to discuss the pupillage application procedure which is invaluable, as it gives us an edge on other competitors.  I really enjoyed meeting everyone, and formed some great friendships, solidified with an obligatory pint at the local pub, after the three days were over.

In terms of skills learnt during this work experience, networking was thoroughly improved as I was in an incredibly professional environment with very intelligent individuals and had to conduct myself in the most positive way every day. Additionally, I witnessed great pieces of advocacy and I believe I can use these skills in mooting and in my legal career. Finally I believe my ability to skim read large documents and retain only the important information has really improved during these previous three days, which is a paramount ability for a barrister.

– Rachel Bale is going into her final year studying English and French Law at the University of Kent.

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