Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Last year's pupils

I've been tucked away in the library at chambers all day today. No sign of The Master, although he did phone me in some instructions at about 10am and asked me to call him before 5pm to check how I was doing. I've been sitting almost by myself reading case files all day and trying to get to grips with the issue of 'ordinary residence' for the purposes of local authority duties to assess and provide for care needs under the National Assistance Act 1948. I'm supposed to be drafting some representations to the Secretary of State for Health for a s.32 reference on which local authority gets to look after the applicant. It might not sound it, but it's actually quite interesting and it's something that I've come across before in asylum work but know very little about.

I'd like to think that I'd normally be able to knock off a task like this in a couple of hours, but it really has taken all day and I'm still not done. I just can't focus as it isn't real work, it isn't my case and yet I'm also pretty much unsupervised and, ultimately, nothing depends on it. To give myself some credit, I am also pretty knackered after a busy weekend.

I said almost by myself as one of the pupils from last year has a desk in the library. The other pupil from last year, a guy I've met once in the post room, has been taken on as a tenant but she is doing a third six (an additional bolted-on period of pupillage) here. I don't think she applied for tenancy this time around. We've been sitting trying look busy and not disturb each other's non-work. I've no idea if she spotted that I was bored so I spent quite some time sorting photos from my long weekend. We did just manage to have a chat about her experiences here, which seem to have been very positive.

She has come straight through directly from university, unlike the other pupil who started at the same time as her, myself and, apparently, the other pupil who has started with me (more about her when we actually speak properly, hopefully this week). She spent eight months with one pupilmaster and four with another. She has found the set friendly and pleasant and she has learned a lot in her time here.

As a third six pupil, she is a qualified barrister (I think) but is not a permanent member of chambers, called a 'tenant'. However, she also does not need to pay chambers 'rent', the fairly hefty fee for being attached to a set of chambers and benefiting from the central resources and clerking service. Today, she was quite excited about doing two linked Interim Care Order (ICO) renewals at the Registry on High Holborn, as they pay £35 a pop but only take a few minutes. She seems to be pretty dependent on the clerks to feed her work, and that is all she got for today. She says the guy who got taken on as a tenant has a busy diary and is developing his own practice, and that he is very good at the whole networking thing.

She will apply for tenancy here but she'll also be applying elsewhere as insurance. She isn't sure that there is enough low level work coming in at the moment to sustain two quite junior members of chambers.

I think there are quite a few lessons in all this.


Smartie said...

Erm of course as a third six one is a qualified barrister - that happens upon completion of pupillage, signing off the crucial 2nd 6 and obtaining a practising certificate.

You are then entitled to inflict yourself on the public at will - only, get your own insurance out as you are no longer under the cover of your pupil supervisor.

As for lessons to be learnt - I agree. I identify with your female 3rd 6 pupil re. her work attitude in terms of being dependant on the clerks. I've done the same thing knowing full well:

1. I cant prostitute myself the way many criminal barrister do to get work from solicitors as i find it degrading.

2. I have no desire to be a long-term criminal barrister.

But thats me ;)

Liadnan said...

You are then entitled to inflict yourself on the public at will - only, get your own insurance out as you are no longer under the cover of your pupil supervisor.

There's a rider to that: para 203.1.b of the Code of Conduct.

The 'Twenty-Something' said...

I can't stop reading this stuff. Good job 'pupilblogger'!!

Out of interest, I'm setting up a new free online interactive magazine for all UK Law students and young professionals (that will hopefully have a blogging element).

I would be very happy if you (or anyone else reading 'pupilblog' with a legal inclination) could join the growing database of those interested in the project. We're already reaching 700 from legal establishments, firms and chambers from all over the UK. It's about time.

'Pupilblogger' - if you like the sound of the resource (and its capability to help you with your networking) - please consider being included as a blogger in our magazine. A link will be used to this one so you don't have to write twice. Fancy it? You can remain as you are (anonymous etc.)

Here's the link: http://uniwestminster.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2221092061

Anyone interested will have to sign up (free) to FACEBOOK and then join the 'UK Law Community' - everything from there should be self-explaintory.

Miss H

Smartie said...

Thanks for that link Liadnan - as a practising barrister, i've not looked at the Code of Conduct since bar school!

Liadnan said...

My copy is holding up a corner of my desk.
It rarely arises of course as setting out as a barrister entirely on your own account from new would hardly be a sensible business plan.