Saturday, 21 July 2007

Tenancy II

I went for a couple of pints with The Master last night. There is some sort of infestation of mini and micro pupils around chambers at the moment, and I suggested we go for a mid-afternoon coffee so we could catch up. A couple of hours later, we headed to the pub for something non alcoholic. An hour later, we left after a couple of pints and a useful, very pleasant, occasionally hilarious chat.

He thinks I stand a very good chance of getting tenancy as I’m a strong candidate, but need to show my face more around chambers. This is pretty much my own analysis of my situation as well, but it was very helpful to hear it from someone else. One member of chambers I know only in passing and with whom The Master was out for a drink with the other night doesn’t know much about me, and this is apparently a common complaint at tenancy votes. I’m not naturally gregarious, so The Master has decided to start touting me around based on his very specialist practice: ‘Do you mind if Pupilblogger sits in your room for a week to get some public/private/ancillary relief experience?’ type thing. I don’t like this idea one little bit, but I can see it is nevertheless a Good Idea.

Factors in my favour now include:

  • I think I get on pretty well with the people with whom I do naturally have contact in chambers through rooms and work, and I think both editions of The Master will be recommending me very strongly. I imagine most pupilmasters put in a good word for their pupils out of loyalty, but I know this hasn’t always been the case in these chambers.
  • The Master reports that the clerks are pleased with my willingness to take on work. This surprises me as I haven’t been going out of my way to do so and am still nervously holding off on offering myself for family work, the main work of chambers.
  • The inscrutable head of chambers is (probably) pleased with me as I’ve done quite a bit of work on a House of Lords case in which he and The Master are instructed, and a lot of my first draft of the Petition has made its way into the final version.
  • I’m doing fairly well at attracting half-decent work. With The Master’s help I worked out how to interrogate the chambers computer system. He held the server down while I administered a good kicking, then we broke it (morally) by getting a mop bucket and threatening water-boarding. Luckily, the fees clerk walked in at this point and seemed to know quite a lot about it. I think this lent us some much-needed credibility and professionalism in the victim’s eye, which I understand is quite useful in a torture situation. To my considerable surprise I earned, on paper, over £6500 in a period of two months. I’ve actually been PAID about £250 in that time, but it still bodes well.
  • The clerks took a relatively straightforward bail case from me yesterday to give me something more complicated instead on the same day, and gave the bail case to a tenant of several years' call instead. I would actually have rather kept the bail case, which was for a firm I'd like to do more work for, but nevermind.
  • I’ve had a couple of people I vaguely know at another set of chambers separately suggest I apply to them, which gives me options should it go pear-shaped here and also injects a certain amount of confidence. Hopefully not tragically misplaced.

The couldn’t-make-it-up anecdote that emerged from the chat with The Master was a real corker. I’ve heard some great ones recently, but need to think of ways to dress them up slightly, if you’ll forgive what you will soon see was dramatic irony. I seek to preserve what I see as the integrity of the anecdote.

More on that in a later post.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Tenancy I

I have started to worry in earnest about tenancy. This has been prompted partly by a potentially disastrous boo-boo on my part recently, which I'm not going to go into as it's a bit of an identity giveaway and I don't have the imagination to cook up a plausible alternative.

I don't think it's fatal, but it certainly wasn't helpful.

If I was planning my path to tenancy with the meticulousness of BabyBarista, I wouldn't be going to quite those lengths but I would be:

1. Diligently doing the loose leaf filing.
2. Making lots of tea, and not just for the people in my room.
3. Asking the clerks to give me family work in far flung places.
4. Socialising with members of chambers.
5. Not being seen in my cycling clothes, even on the way into and out of chambers in the morning and evening as it seems to irritate some people (and I don't even wear lycra).
6. Offering to do paperwork and research for others.
7. Learning everyone's marital status and calling everyone Mr and Mrs Barrister.
8. Turning up early and staying late.

I am doing none of these things. I either can't be bothered or it rankles too much. Or both, more likely. But it is starting to worry me. The Master mentioned the other day how popular the other pupil is around chambers, and I suspect that several members of chambers feel that offering tenancy to both pupils from last year might have been a mistake.

Our chambers makes decisions very late, only after the end of pupillage. As the other pupil pointed out recently, that puts us at a real disadvantage if it comes to applying for third sixes at other sets as other failed pupils will already know by then and have been making applications.

Navel gazing

I'm going to slip this post in before I do a proper one in a few minutes. It's for regular readers, of whom there are still quite a few. I'm very sorry I'm managing to post less often. I'm trying to get one out a week, and I'm trying to keep them on subject, i.e. a record of my experiences of pupillage which I hope might be some use to others either in choosing career paths or in steeling themselves for the whole pupillage experience.

Since I started to cut back a bit once my second six started, I think my posts have gotten longer and they are less well crafted than previously. This is a result of limited time, basically, and as any experienced legal draftsman will know, limited time often ends up meaning longer but less good documents.

Thanks to all those who leave comments and email in. I really enjoy getting both, even though it may not seem it as I'm a bit hopeless at replying to comments. I'll try and do better in future.