Since the beginning of this year the Coronavirus has been something which has dominated our everyday conversations. However, I do not think I am the only one to say that I did not expect that a few months down the line we would be on what basically is a lockdown and not able to live our lives in a normal way.
As a pupil at Crown Office Row, the impact of the virus and how it would affect me starting on my feet only really hit home a few weeks ago. I was finding myself in court a lot less and hearings were starting to be heard remotely and I was no longer able to attend.
I am scheduled to start on my feet next week and I know that many pupils are in the same position, questioning how our second six is going to work and what we may face. During this manic time, we need to stop and not panic about how this is going to affect our future careers, but consider the opportunity before us which could enable us to become better advocates.
It is clear that when we are able to fully start on our feet, the experience before us is going to be very different to that of our predecessors. They started in the normal way…getting their first Magistrates Court list, or their first RTA. Walking through those court doors for the first time, feeling very nervous and meeting their own client. For us, it may be that the experience is completely different. The first time we speak to our lay client may be on the phone and the first time we are in court may be either by telephone or on video. This is something that over the last six months of pupillage is not what we have prepared for, but is certainly not something we should be scared of.
As I have been contemplating the different start that I may have to second six, I spoke to my pupil supervisor about the upcoming challenges. She told me to use this as an opportunity to make myself an ever better and more confident advocate. We spoke about using the time to do that “research” that everyone always wants to do, or perfecting your legal argument for your ICO or EPO applications. This means that when you are drafting your position statement late at night because your case is the next day the legal element is all ready to go. She told me that this will not only make me feel more confident, but will mean that when something is thrown at me at the last minute (which let’s be honest, can often happen!) I will be ready to tackle it.
The start of our second six may be quieter than we expected, which of course is disappointing, however we should not be wasting this precious time. We are being given an opportunity, which many practitioners probably wish for during their career, to be able to research about a certain complex area of law, or simply be able to look at new case law. For example,the case C (A Child: Interim Separation)  EWCA Civ257, which brings a revision to the separation test in relation to an ICO application in the family court. There are so many areas of the law that will be thrown our way when we start out on our feet from Credit Hire cases to Bad Character applications.
Therefore, I know, that during this time of uncertainty I am going to use any spare time to research and advance my knowledge on any areas of law that I know as a pupil barrister I will be facing. So that if in a month’s time, maybe two, maybe three, when I am handed a case, it is hopefully something that I can with confidence take on and say that I am ready for.
Of course, we cannot learn everything and we still have a massive learning curve in front of us but we can make the most of this unusual opportunity – and let’s hope it only comes around once!