Judicial Assistants work closely with their allocated Justices so the nature of the role varies, but everyone prepares short summaries of applications for permission to appeal; reads skeleton arguments and authorities, attends hearings and speaks to their Justices about particular appeals; as well as drafting press summaries of judgments. Research is also required for cases and extra-judicial speeches covering topics as varied as the legal history of the wife, the justiciability of foreign affairs in English courts and the treatment of economic torts in Australia.
Highlights of the year included the Assange extradition hearing and sequelae; Rabone, a very sad case concerning whether damages should be available to parents of a woman who committed suicide after release from voluntary mental health treatment and RT (Zimbabwe) in which the Supreme Court held that politically neutral asylum seekers could not be removed to Zimbabwe where they would have to declare allegiance to Zanu-PF.
The role is an extraordinary opportunity to observe on a daily basis advocacy from senior silks on complex and finely balanced points of law. One learns what to do from the best advocates (and, occasionally, what not to do). It is interesting to see how the Justices perceive points: which change minds, which lose cases and which are simply lost in the midst of argument.
I had previously undertaken only a year of legal study in the Graduate Diploma in Law at City University, although many Judicial Assistants have a law degree and/or the BCL. So for me, the opportunity furthered my legal education and understanding. I was exposed to the law of limitation in personal injury, aspects of shipping law, the finer elements of insolvency law and (for an English practitioner at least) more esoteric matters in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council such as Jamaican land law and that concerning the temporary promotion of Trinidadian prison officers. Not all of this will be directly applicable to my practice – but developing the intellectual stamina and flexibility needed to read into four difficult appeals in a week certainly will, as will the assurance acquired by diving frequently into an unknown area of the law and being forced to rapidly develop an understanding.
Report on Lecture by visiting Professor at City University London, Stephen Hockman QC:
Legal Services Reform: the impact on the Bar - 5th October 2011.
Mention legal services reforms and you will definitely catch the attention of any barrister or solicitor in the room. And chances are, he or she will have plenty to say on the subject, as did visiting Professor at City University, Stephen Hockman QC, who offered a fascinating insider’s view of this red-hot topic in legal circles.
Since the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007 and the Bar’s revised Code of Conduct, barristers have wondered what their future will look like in a post-Clementi environment filled with economic concerns. Especially now that the traditional boundary between barristers’ and solicitors’ work has been crossed, with barristers being able to carry out a solicitor’s work.
Stephen Hockman tells us that the route to successfully integrating in these circumstances lies in the hands of barristers themselves. While regulation only establishes a minimum standard, “in the end, the only way in which a client can be guaranteed a good service from his lawyer is if that lawyer is sufficiently well-trained and motivated to provide the required level of service.”
In view of Bar Standards Board (BSB) decisions, many unanswered questions are foremost in many a barrister’s mind. Questions of whether the Bar Council will agree to amend its constitution so that it can become an entity regulator and if so, which entity will it decide to regulate? Will the Bar in chambers decide to emulate solicitors in adopting partnerships as the predominant practice mode and what effect will this have on the ethos of personal responsibility? And if members of the Bar decide to practice in LDP rather than in Chambers or in bar-only partnerships in significant numbers, what long-term effects will this have on the Bar Council in its regulatory role?
Jane McNeill QC, barrister at Old Square Chambers completed her GDL (then the CPE) at City in 1980 and specialises in the fields of employment and personal injury law. Ranked as a leading silk in the latest edition of both Chambers and Partners ("never less than fully prepared to bat off the slings and arrows") and in the Legal 500 ("methodical" and with "an edge in defending discrimination cases").
Alongside acting in some very high-profile discrimination cases, Jane also sits as a Recorder in the County Court, is a part-time tribunal judge and is the editor of the Equality and Diversity Code for the Bar.
Jane kindly did a great interview with the Lawbore blog, touching on how she reached where she is today, achieving a work/home life balance and what the Inns can do for you. She reflects on the Legal Services Act and how this may affect the Bar, and gives some tips on developing a specialism, getting experience and offers some insight into how different sets can differ tremendously.
You can read Jane's full profile on the Old Square website.
Don't miss this Careers Fair next month, blurb for the event as follows:
Many people are attracted to the idea of becoming a barrister, but may not know what area of law they want to specialize in. A career at the Chancery Bar is both diverse and intellectually stimulating, but many budding barristers don’t really understand what “chancery” is.
The Chancery Bar Association, which represents the interests of Chancery barristers, is holding a Careers Fair on 25 October 2010. The Chancery Bar Careers Fair gives those considering a career at the Bar the chance to attend a free event to find out what a career at the Chancery Bar involves. The day comprises a series of talks on becoming a barrister and different areas of chancery practice, followed by an opportunity to meet members of 26 chancery chambers providing pupillage.
Location: Royal College of Surgeons, 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE (10am-3pm)
From 1-4pm today, the Guardian Careers site will be running a live Q & A session with an exciting panel of experts:
Derek Wood CBE QC, is a barrister at Falcon Chambers. He has been a recorder since 1985 and led the Bar Standards Board's "Review of Pupillage".
Tim Kevan is the author of the BabyBarista Blog for The Guardian and of the legal comedy novel 'Law and Disorder' which follows BabyBarista's pupillage year. He practised as a common law barrister in London for ten years before taking a break to concentrate on writing.
Ali Dewji is the president of the Middle Temple Students Association and will be beginning her pupillage in three weeks time.
Simon Myerson was called to the Bar in 1986, became a Recorder in 2001 and took Silk in 2003. He writes the "Pupillage: How to get it" blog and lives in Leeds with his wife, 4 children, 2 goldfish and a dog – all of whom are female. In his spare time he teaches adult education for the Hebrew University, swims, sails and compulsorily explores his feminine side.
Adam Kramer is the author of the book Bewigged and Bewildered: A Guide to Becoming a Barrister, and has been a barrister at commercial chambers 3 Verulam Buildings for five years.
Christopher Grout is currently approaching the end of his pupillage at 15 New Bridge Street, the Chambers of Patrick Upward QC. He read law at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne before studying for his Bar Exams at the College of Law in London.
Marcus Soanes is course director on the part-time Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at The City Law School. He will be online from 1pm — 2.30pm.
Robert McPeake is a barrister and principal lecturer on the LLM course, teaching advocacy, EU competition law, evidence, criminal litigation and sentencing at the City Law School. He will be online from 2.30pm _ 4pm.
You can send in your questions from now....
Mike Semple Piggot (aka Charon QC) interviews Nicholas Green QC on his vision for the future of the Bar. He discusses the impact of the Legal Services Act, issue of direct access to the Bar and offers some reflection on the different routes to the profession now.
Inside Track podcasts are hosted by The College of Law.
A demo of the site and Q & A session was held at Grays Inn on Tuesday 30th March. On the panel were Christopher Moore of the Pupillage Committee at the Bar Council and James Hooper of GTI Solutions (designers and administrators of the portal). You can see it via the online video.
The guys at All About Law are looking after you again (all heart some people...) check out their new videos:
Key skills required for a legal career will let you feel smug about the ones you already have and allow you to get working on the ones you don't.
Top tips for getting into law should give you some ideas about getting that useful leg-up...bribery probably not recommended.
With the 31st March Vacation Scheme deadline looming they've also knocked up a helpful list of vacation schemes still open for applications. Remember there are 20,000 second year law students out there and less than 1,000 of these beauties. Don't miss out!
Rachael Williams gives us gives an insight to combining motherhood, family life and criminal practice at the Bar.
As I leave the house early in the morning, in the dark, again, leaving my three young children sleeping in the house with Daddy on the Monday just after Christmas weekend, then I do wonder whether choosing to go back into full time practice at the Bar was a sensible one. My situation is a deserted train and my destination is one of the many Magistrates’ Courts covered by my Chambers. My client will be in custody having been arrested over the holiday weekend. I hope that there may be some degree of appreciation for my turning up to represent him/her and to apply for bail. I trust that the District Judge and the Court staff will be just as eager to get through the list as I am.
Reflection provides me with answers. As a qualified lawyer, on whichever side of the profession, I have experienced a variety of work-family life combinations. The truth is that no-one can tell any other person which is the best way to be a mum and a working individual. There may be no ‘correct way’. All one can do is speak from one’s own experiences.