I find myself thinking that it must be over two years ago now since I first sat in these chairs in the reception area of these chambers. About nine months ago I sat in them again, just before I started this blog, waiting for several hours for someone to come and do something about this bloke who had arrived claiming to be the new pupil.
One of the junior clerks walks past and, surprised to see me sitting in the waiting area reading a book, nods and smiles in my direction. The faces of the more seasoned passers-by morph with impressive speed from the same expression of puzzlement to one of affected disinterest. Eye contact is avoided.
The interivew goes well. At least, I think it does. I have prepared some thoughts on why I want to be a barrister, why I want to specialise in this particular area of law, what I have to offer these chambers and why I want to practice from these chambers. This last point has provoked some soul searching, and I find myself wondering who I am trying to convince. This preparation turns out to be redundant, and I am pleasantly surprised not to be patronised by such questions. The three relatively junior members of chambers conducting the interview seem to be willing to assume that I know what I am doing in making this application for tenancy, which is a relief.
I am asked instead about high points and low points. I have to think quickly. There are plenty of low points, but most of these are best avoided. I talk about a case that I felt should have succeeded that has been gnawing away at me since. This was hardly the most heart-rending case with which I've dealt, but for some reason it has become one of several cases that I think about in quiet moments.
The high point that jumps to mind is not a moment in court, in fact. It is the conference I attended with The Master, the head of chambers and a prominent solicitor for the House of Lords case. It was not something I had dwelt on, and I'm not sure what suddenly brought it to the front of my mind at that moment. I said it was the fast flow of ideas and the fact that I was able to contribute something useful, but I suspect it was also the excitement and the warm sense of welcome inferiority that enveloped me as the conference progressed.
At one point at the very end I mention that I have not applied for tenancy elsewhere. As soon as I say it, I realise that this is not a sensible strategy. I don't mean the answer, I mean that I really should have applied elsewhere. I am genuinely ambivalent about whether I want to practice here and now is the time to be applying to other sets.
I can't really remember the rest of it. I've always found that to be the case with my big interviews. The moment I stepped out of my future tutor's room at Oxford I could remember nothing at all about what had just happened.
They called me the next morning to say that I would be recommended 'as someone suitable for Chambers to consider' for tenancy. I get the impression that getting through this screening process is not much of a first step.
Later that day, I fax two tenancy applications to other sets, hoping it isn't too late.