I applied for pupillage at 7BR as it was clear from my research that Chambers were highly regarded in a number of my preferred areas but was also one of the few truly mixed common law sets in London. I had always thought there was a lot to be gained from developing a mixed practice initially and 7BR could offer this. It also became clear “on the grape vine” through meeting people at the Inns of Court, that 7BR appeared to be a very friendly, social and forward-thinking set. I am pleased to say that having completed my pupillage here, and now being a year into tenancy, both first impressions were proved true.
Even before commencing pupillage, 7BR welcomed me and my co-pupil Kat with open arms. We were both invited to attend the Juniors’ Christmas Party and meet our first supervisors over an informal coffee. We were allocated junior mentors who were available to guide us as to any preparatory steps we needed to take before starting and to answer any questions we had. Within a few weeks of joining, Chambers held a welcome drinks for us. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere in Chambers is something that has continued throughout my time here. Everyone from the most junior to the most senior member of chambers has an open-door policy and has been more than willing to offer help and guidance as I have undertaken my training and began my career.
Pupillage is split into three sections at 7BR, each part being four months (with at least two weeks observing family). The first four months is usually a civil seat, followed by four months of crime, and finally, what is in my view one of the best things about pupillage at 7BR, four months where you choose your practise area (as far as Chambers is able to accommodate).
I began pupillage under the supervision of Jeffrey Jupp, a senior junior specialising in employment and commercial law. Jeffrey has had countless pupils under his supervision and was able to help me settle into chambers and the pattern of pupillage in the first few weeks. Any nerves I had quickly subsided. The first four months involved a lot of paperwork, drafting advices, pleadings and legal research notes. I also accompanied Jeffrey to conferences and tribunal. I particularly enjoyed shadowing Jeffrey to regulatory hearings as this was a completely new area to me.
My criminal supervisor was Anwar Nashashibi. These four months were completely different to the first four. Anwar has a very busy court diary and I found myself in the Crown Court with him most days. I observed a number of different trials, including sexual assault and attempted murder. I was able to shadow him on cases for the Crown and Defence. Anwar also facilitated me shadowing other members of the criminal team if there was something useful in court that I should see. It was a great opportunity to get to know more members of chambers as a result. In addition to spending a lot of time in the Crown Court, I was able to shadow Anwar during conferences relating to his civil abuse work, another area completely new to me which was really interesting. He asked me to draft advices and conduct research into ‘failure to remove’ cases, an area which was very much on the move making these tasks fascinating. One of my favourite tasks was drafting notes on how I would conduct a cross examination before observing and discussing the differences as compared to Anwar’s actual cross examination at trial.
Towards the end of this part of pupillage I started ‘on my feet’, a terrifying and exhilarating experience. My first hearing was a MOJ Stage 3 which I of course over prepared for and worried about for days, but in reality, was very straightforward. The clerks were helpful in building hearings up slowly, but by my third week I was sent to Newcastle for a three-day employment hearing and after a few weeks I was trusted with fast track trials in the county court. The clerks at 7BR go above and beyond to make sure you’re doing quality work early. They challenge you but are alive to the fact that these are the first few months of your career at the Bar and there is still a lot to learn.
In the final four months I chose to observe Personal Injury, Clinical Negligence and Product Liability and was allocated Jonathan Bertram as my supervisor. The final few months presented a new challenge of doing my own cases whilst drafting work for my supervisor and shadowing him. Time management was key. With Jonathan I observed conferences, JSMs and hearings. Conferences with medical experts fascinated me and Jonathan was always happy to discuss cases before and after to make sure I was getting the most out of shadowing him. I learnt vast amounts in a short space of time, and Jonathan was always on hand to assist with any queries I had in my own cases.
During the year there were a number of written and advocacy assessments to complete. These began with ‘informal’ assessments. Whilst obviously everything counts on pupillage, this was another way 7BR helped to ease me into the idea of assessments. In the last few weeks of pupillage my co-pupil and I were to battle it out in a mock trial with members of chambers playing witnesses (with hilarious and off-putting accents) and jury. Happily, at 7BR you are not in reality competing with co-pupils; if two of you are good enough, two of you will get tenancy. This made the whole experience much easier. Kat and I were able, and continue, to help each other out be it with cases or general life at the Bar.
I am pleased to say I was taken on as a tenant in October 2018, the decision having been made in mid-September. Looking back, whilst pupillage is obviously stressful at times the support offered by everyone at Chambers made the entire experience great. It was challenging and I certainly learnt a lot, but it’s clear that all members and staff at Chambers want is to get the best out of you and set you up for a long and happy career at the Bar. I really enjoyed pupillage at 7BR and find myself encouraging anyone considering applying for pupillage to apply here.