Sam and I have been practising at Coram as chambers’ most junior tenants since October 2020, but had the immensely strange experience of starting our practising second six when the Covid lockdown restrictions were initiated. A huge part of the pupillage experience is the ability to get to know members of chambers. We were able to do so in person during our first sixes, but during our second sixes, our supervisors and other members would check in on Zoom or via telephone every few days, as we all got to grips with life under lockdown. Members of chambers also took it upon themselves to run advocacy sessions and seminars to make up for valuable court time, which we otherwise would have gotten. Every effort was made for our pupillages to feel as ‘normal’ as possible, under the circumstances! Members of chambers continue to benefit from a packed remote events calendar, featuring everything from webinars to Christmas quizzes.
Since the lockdown measures were implemented, I have been wholeheartedly embracing the reality of a ‘virtual’ practice; from second six to now, and beyond. As the restrictions ease, I have started to attend court in person more, but below is a description of one week of my remote practice during my second six, between April and October 2020. My working hours were sometimes unpredictable, as cases can come in at the last minute. Additionally, given they are remote, timings of hearings could easily change with short notice. However, my day usually started at 9.30am, and ended at 6.30pm.
Today, I had a telephone hearing for a pro bono case I accepted through the Bar Pro Bono Unit. I had to ask the court for an adjournment, as a crucial piece of documentation hadn’t come through and we needed it to move the case forward. Luckily, the other side agreed, so we geared up to return the matter to court in a few weeks.
I assisted my supervisor on a Skype hearing today, navigating the new remote access functions during lockdown. The case concerned a contested interim care order and placement in respect of some young children. I had a go at drafting a position statement, and in the evening, attended the financial remedies seminar, which gave Sam and I fantastic insight into the kinds of things we might come across later in our career.
Today was the start of a three day noting brief, in which I had to take down the details of a dispute over substantial interests in property, under the supervision of one of our brilliant tenants. I got to watch a roundtable discussion be deftly navigated via Zoom, and after hours of negotiation, a figure was agreed upon by all sides.
The discussion was taken to court, during which time the judge heard submissions from the parties. Now that the figure was agreed, the new problem was how our client could be sure he would receive what he was entitled to. Another negotiation ensued on the details of enforcement, and although we cautiously arrived at a solution, all bets were off as to whether this would still be on the table tomorrow.
Happily, the judge agreed to the provisions proposed in favour of our client, and we were able to resolve our part in the case quickly. The client was thrilled with the outcome, and with half a day left, we all got to begin our weekend early – always a great end to the working week!