Kirsty

Kirsty Day
3rd Year, LLB Law
My name is Kirsty Day, I am 18 and I have just completed my first year of Law. Although I attend Queen Mary, do not live on campus. My aspiration in life is to become a Barrister, either in criminal law, child law, or property law. I am slightly unsure as to which yet, but I definitely like the idea of being a criminal Barrister to stand up for people and give them a voice that they otherwise wouldn't have. In my free time, I like to do Karate, I have 2 black belts and I also help set up a new club on thursday's. I do like to write and to share my thoughts and hopefully my blogs will offer people a bit of advice and reassurance about studying and university in general.

Dos and Don’ts on a Mini Pupillage

Congratulations, you now have a mini pupillage! But, now what do you do when you are on it? How can you make yourself stand out? There is an endless list, but these are the most crucial to ensure your mini goes smoothly.

Do

Do take notes – not only is this useful to you for future references and applications, but they may even be relied on by the barrister, who said what and what questions were asked.

Do ask lots of questions – the barrister will be keen to know you are interested, but make sure you ask them at the right time! If they are talking to their client, don’t butt in and ask how they funded the bar.

Do take down the name of the judge, the case, the court and the time – it is attention to detail Inns and Bar Schools will be asking you about in interviews, if you don’t know these things, they make take it that you weren’t paying attention.

Do follow like a shadow – always be close to your barrister and see what they are doing at all times, don’t wander off as your case may be called in without you knowing.

Do tell chambers what you would like to see – it’s your mini pupillage, if you tell them what you are interested in, they are likely to be accommodating.

Do ask for work on the case – this shows an interest to get stuck in as well as to get a good understanding, it is especially useful if you are halfway through a case.

Do expect to travel – on a mini you will be sent all over London, or if you are outside, potentially all over the county, so be prepared for expensive travel tickets, and usually chambers won’t pay for your expenses, so mini’s are quite a costly experience.

Do show you have knowledge in the law – if something doesn’t add up with what you have studied, do query it, but do it in the right way rather than saying to your barrister you’re wrong as they may have a reason, there are always caveats in law!

Do wear a suit – in fact always wear a suit and blazer. As a barrister you have to look smart, so why shouldn’t you as a mini?skirt For ladies, always dark tights and a skirt below the knee, and don’t wear revealing shirts!

Don’t

Dbundleon’t leave the bundle – if you are in charge of your barrister’s papers, don’t leave them around as the opposition may get a sneaky look!

Don’t suffer in silence with work – if you are given a task such as research and are struggling, don’t just sit there and look like you are working, ask questions. It’s better to do that than admit when asked about it that you didn’t’ know what you were doing.

Don’t read in court – cases can be long and sometimes a bit dull, but this doesn’t give you any excuse to start reading fifty shades under the desk! It has happened and often, you are caught out. If you take down notes constantly, this should stop your mind from drifting.

Don’t sleep in court – judges and jurors have been known to do it, but you will face probably a much harsher reprisal if you are caught doing it.

Don’t walk in when a judge is talking – whenever the judge is addressing the jury, defendant or when anyone is taking an oath, never enter the room or even move, it is a legally binding oath and there must be no distractions.

Don’t talk about the case – you would have signed a confidentiality agreement, don’t talk about the case with your selfiebarrister outside the court, a juror or even the other side may hear you and it could jeopardise the case.

Don’t take selfies – they know you are excited, but don’t take selfies in the court or anywhere really, they look unprofessional and chambers do look on social media and if they find an embarrassing selfie in your wall, you can count yourself out of pupillage

The most important thing is to enjoy it and above all – learn something!

How to Obtain a Mini Pupillage

How to apply – I have done about 6 mini pupillages so far and by far the most time consuming part is the application process. Not only should you apply for mini’s at least 6 months in advance, you should also expect your printing bill to go through the roof!

Unlike solicitor internships, mini pupillages are very ad hoc and usually they only want your CV and cover letter. Sounds simple right? It’s anything but! The problem is, if you write a CV in September when you just start university, but the time the mini comes around, you are bound to have done countless more things than what you put down. It is a constant updating process, so make sure your CV is always up to date: if you go to any event or achieve an award say, your CV should be your first port of call!

I had to send out over 40 applications just to get my 6 minimini’s, but, in the first year, my CV was quite empty, but it is never too early to start. As a general rule, once you get one mini, others will follow.

Also, don’t be afraid to go for the highest chambers you can, all they want is to know they are giving a good opportunity to someone who deserves it and is interested in it. Even if your CV isn’t brimming with things, your cover letter could make up for it.

A few chambers may allow you to send your application via email. In this case, be aware! It is quite easy to send an email without attachments or for things to go wrong! Take your time, just because it is an email, don’t get complacent, always be polite and respectful, these people might be the ones to offer you pupillage in the future!

How to set out your CV/cover letter

As a general rule, for a cover letter, make sure it is a letter, with addresses and dates – presentation is everything! Your first paragraph should be what you are writing for i.e. to gain a mini pupillage and why. The second should go on to say why that chambers, so do your research. Chambers are constantly annoyed by having people coming up with excuses rather than reasons as most information about a chambers is on their website. They do realise you have probably sent a lot of applications, but tailor make each one to that chambers – there is no point saying they are a world class international specialists in business crime when they only do local white collar crime.

The rest of your letter should demonstrate you have the skills needed to make the most of your mini pupillage, show off your volunteering, your achievements in academics, and your ongoing goal to go into that type of law. Or, if you are unsure, say why you would be interested to learn more.

Finally, close with your dates you are available and a polite line like I look forward to hearing from you etc. Always end ‘yours sincerely’.

A structure for a CV is quiet simple, what most inns and barristers recommend is to first forget a personal profile, chambers hate this and with so many applications this could be the only thing that gets yours put aside. Start with your education, then your legal experience, then your other experience, then mooting – this is essential! Then go on to state your volunteering experience or positions of responsibility, then awards and finally, your interests and references.

On CV’s it is most important to be succinct. Your CV should be no longer than 2 pages. For each aspect put down, try to have only one or 2 lines of explanation. It should be a short, easy to read list. Bear in mind, chambers will go through it in about 30 seconds. Make sure it stands out and makes you look as good as possible.

Try and send as many as you can and try to get about 4 mini pupillages in an area you like, but also have a range of areas. Good luck!

 

Exams and summer plans

Exams… no one likes them, but they must be done. This year, the law exams were rather early, and so, although our summer came earlier, it meant less time for all-important revision. For some, this is almost a godsend, but for me it was a huge panic and worry. My style of revision is to condense and write everything I have done throughout the year on massive A2 sheets, these took about 2 ½ weeks to complete, meaning I had around three or four weeks to learn it off by heart.

After covering every wall space in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and two bedrooms, with these sheets and over 700 cases remembered, I was ready… well, kind of. I felt ready, but some questions still managed to throw me off, yet, I couldn’t have used any more time to revise or tried any harder. I had a strict routine of an 8am start with an hour off for lunch at 11, and continued to work until around 7 or 8pm, although, admittedly, the closer I came to exams, the more I worked into the night. However, I can safely say that the latest finish time was half

Me and the Lord Chief Justice

Me and the Lord Chief Justice

ten. I don’t know how people can work until 3 in the morning, that just seems like madness!

Whether the results are good or bad, I won’t know until that dreaded judgement day at the end of July or August. Denial is a great tool in this situation. It is better to look forward than back, so, for now, I am just going to enjoy the summer.

So far, the holiday has been great, it took some time adjusting to all the free time I suddenly had available and getting over the sickly feeling of guilt for not doing any work I felt I ought to be doing, even though there was nothing to do, was a little tricky.

But, it is now week 2, and I have already participated in the London Legal Walk as a marshal where I met the Lord Chief Justice, which was amazing. I have also managed to obtain the long awaited mini Pupillage  and almost by pure chance! Networking was crucial, if you meet the people you hope to apply to, you are sure to make much more of an impression than any words on a piece of paper ever could. I am also waiting to hear back from victim support for training dates. All this, on top of a holiday to Scotland, a mini break to Cambridge, and a highly anticipated Muse concert should make for a very exciting summer; I will hopefully be well rested and prepared for the following year.

1st Year Work Experience and Mini Pupillages

For this edition of my blog, being as summer is fast approaching, it seems sensible to think about what first years can do during the summer holidays in terms of work placements and experience.

Many first years will not be accepted into Mini Pupillage schemes as most require you to already be in your second year when you apply. But there are some out there who do, so I went along to every CV writing course and Bar Society event that Queen Mary offered in order to see what these firms and Chambers are looking for.

I began around Christmas time by researching and trawling through every Chambers website I could find. I found about 10 over a range of areas from Criminal to Property to Child Law and sent in my applications. I knew I didn’t stand very much of a chance but I thought I might as well to get to learn the process and you never know. Plus, in Law, it’s never too early to get stuck in!

Then it’s the waiting game. Many take over 6 weeks to reply and  some even longer, so until then I decided to cast the net a bit further and look at local Courts and Solicitors. In total, by the end of May I would have sent in over 20 applications! Hopefully one of them will bite.

In the meantime I attended the National Pupillage Fair and some were present to whom I sent an application, allowing me to talk to them personally and perhaps moving my papers a little bit up the pile. I also applied to Citizen’s Advice and Victim Support for some extra experience in dealing with the public and sensitive issues.

So far, all I have received is a letter from one Chamber stating they are considering my application, which does inspire a little bit of confidence. But I encourage anyone who is looking for summer work to apply as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get a reply, at least you would have tried and got all your information ready for next year!

 Never be disheartened, most first years don’t even contemplate something like this, so you would already be on the first step.

First Impressions of Queen Mary

Coming to Queen Mary University was quite a daunting prospect. Everything in the course of a 6 week summer holiday had changed; I was no longer a college student, my friends began moving away and now I had to push my brain to its very limit in the world of an undergraduate of law.

On my first week, I pushed aside my stylish, one folder capacity satchel and donned the mountaineering back- pack to face the trains, the city and my new life.

I found the lectures in the first week interesting, but so much of it flew over my head and I wondered if the actual lectures were going to be this intense. Although they were, they were much more engaging and I felt optimistic and reassured.

Then the real work started, tutorials, cases, articles… and the reading! The reading was probably the biggest challenge to overcome, but once a routine was set, it didn’t seem half as bad as when I started. I also write notes on every lecture, I don’t use a laptop, but the quality is there and I’m one of the few who actually look at a lecturer instead of clacking on keys for 2 hours, which I find helps me take in the information better.

In a room of 300 people, I found myself a little unsure of who to talk to. I was a little shy of QM Lecture Theatrejust going up to someone and just saying “Hi!”. The tutorials and mooting made it much easier, we became a tight knit group who then introduced each other to friends of friends and now I know so many people who offer amazing support, but also who encourage me to relax once in a while and get into the spirit of being a fun-loving student.

 

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