Barrister-Diaries: 5 months as a Barrister-at-Law student

kings inns constitutional hill becoming a barrister diaries January 2023 blue sky

Dear diary… let’s have another chat.

It’s January, we have resumed weekend classes after the Christmas break.

“Whew”.

Since the majority of our classes were online, it was great to meet and hang out with my classmates in person for the second time this academic year (!!). Realising that we had only met a handful of times reminded me of how impactful the pandemic was to all of us, but also how fast time has passed. As I’m writing this now, we’re almost 50% done with year 1.

“Say what, now?”

But, like I said, it was nice to see everyone again. We caught up on how we got on during the Christmas break. One thing that I’ve learnt is that when attending in person classes, the engagement between students and the professors/teacher is incomparable to online classes. I think I certainly do a lot more work with the in-person classes, it’s very much ready, steady, go vibes – I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps because the tutor can see my screen and what I am doing ….. yeah, that’s probably it.

Table of Contents:

I drafted my first draft of my legal career… !!

Read that sentence again.

We focused on drafting civil claims from the District Court, the Circuit Court and the High Court. We focussed on the initiating documents – these are the documents that essentially mark the beginning of litigation between 2 parties.

There’s a lot more to it than you think. When preparing for this class, I was flying through the exercises and thought to myself “oh I got this, it’s not that bad” and little did I know that there was a purpose behind every specific word that you use to describe parties, what to include and not to include, using your intuition to decide what do you need to plead, as in what do you think will actually help your case like experts or not. This also includes developing your own style of writing.

The one thing that I was happy to learn was that, even in litigation – barristers do none of the monetary calculations if there is a monetary value that a party is claiming = the solicitors will do the maths, not the barristers.

✨H a p p y d a y s✨

The dreaded time management…

There is no easy way of admitting this – I just haven’t mastered my time management skills.

There I SAID it – I know I know, it’s a shock isn’t it? Balancing this course and a full-time job is a job in and of itself. I am not sure about everyone’s circumstances but I commute over 2 hours (one way) to work and from work. I am up at 5.20am and arrive home at approx. 8.30pm so it is a very very long day. The last thing on my mind is to read the next chapter on “Initiating Letters”. But it must be done. I’ve been forced into learning and adjusting my study techniques and then opt for what works best for me – this includes, maybe prepping during my lunch break and carrying my laptop with me to work on the bus. (It’s grim, I know). I will do my best to find pockets of time that I miraculously find to prep for the weekend. Now – sometimes this is all left to Friday night, but at least some of the work is done, rather than none of it… right….?

No-one ever said that the part-time course was easy, I knew this when I signed up and I am sure that you do too. Working and studying for 12 days straight is exhausting – physically and mentally. As I write this, I am commuting in the dark and getting home.. in the dark [see dark image below…].

Was I just get granted bail for my client?!

I did my first-ever bail application and it was a whirlwind experience. I spoke too fast, a few errors were made (and this is expected at this very early stage) – but if there is one thing that I have learnt – you have got to keep on practising and making those mistakes. We’re all in the same boat and we’re all learning together and from each other. it was interesting to see the different styles of advocacy from my classmates. We all have unique ways of communicating and putting forward arguments and presenting.

This criminal weekend was something else. There was lots of advocacy going on – most of which I’d never done before. But you know what – that’s WHY I’m here to learn.

It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least but look… I got bail for my client! To get bail for your client, essentially this means that the client will not be in prison but instead must undertake (promise) to abide by certain court conditions. The client will return to court at a date in the future to answer the criminal charges against them.

Final submissions:

If anything I’ve written here has piqued your interested in becoming a Barrister – I would recommend that you have a look at my Becoming a barrister Diaries series as I am documenting in real-time my experience as a BL student – click here !

Also – check out my blog post on how to become a Barrister here. It’ll give you an insight into the exams, study tips and more.

If you’d like to follow me in real-time, you’ll find me on Instagram @itsjanetyennusick – do come and say hi.

Until the next diary entry,

Janet.

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