My First Week as a Pupil

Amy McKechnie

The night before my first day of pupillage, I didn’t feel as nervous as I anticipated. I would definitely put this down to the extensive efforts made by member of Chambers to make me feel included in ‘Chambers life’from the moment I accepted my pupillage offer. My co-pupil and I participated in ‘virtual lunches’, attended lunch with the Director of Chambers, Nick O'Neill, over the summer period and even had our photographs taken for the new website. I also had various induction sessions with my pupil supervisor to ease me into the process. It was safe to say that by the time I arrived into chambers on day one, I already felt like a member of the team.


By the time my first day rolled around, I was armed with my pre-reading from the night before and a feeling of walking into the unknown. However my anxieties immediately dissipated as soon as I was greeted by Paula and my pupil supervisor. The atmosphere in chambers was relaxed and friendly. I certainly did not feel as though this was going to be like a ‘year-long job interview’, as often pupillage is compared to. Over the course of the day, my pupil supervisor taught me how to prepare financial remedy cases and children cases. I also sat in on conferences and virtual court hearings and instantly began to understand how to interact with clients in a professional yet friendly capacity. By the end of the day, I had made conference notes for my supervisor and understood how to quickly navigate a set of papers.


The rest of my week was incredibly varied. There were occasions where I attended Birkenhead Family Court and observed in-person advocacy as opposed to remote. On other days, I observed the process of negotiation and settlement over the telephone and also understood how to deal with litigants in person on the other side of a case. The areas of law which I observed were also mixed, despite this being a family law pupillage. On one occasion, I attended Liverpool Crown Court and observed various criminal matters with another member of Chambers. I certainly felt supported in my learning by the other Barristers at Oriel as opposed to just my pupil supervisor. There were also opportunities for me to sit in the Chamber’s library and brush up on my knowledge of cases for the following day.


By the end of the week, I was astounded by how much I had learnt in such a short space of time. For those yet to commence pupillage, my biggest advice would be to start a working diary of everything you have learnt each day or anything interesting you have observed. I had drafted court orders,witness statements and even liaised with solicitors to provide information on any areas of law I had researched. During the week, I felt increasingly comfortable being a pupil in chambers. I was able to ask lots of questions,which were met with thorough responses for members of Chambers in order to develop my understanding. I am certainly looking forward to the rest of my pupillage year and I am keen to see what else is to come. To anyone thinking of applying for pupillage at Oriel Chambers, I could not recommend this set enough.


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