December: Year 2 of the Barrister-at-Law Degree Programme

December: year 2 of the kings inns barrister at law degree programme

You know what time it is. – it’s time to unpack this intense month. (teehee).

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It does what it says on the tin and that is exactly what was served on us. It was intensive advocacy month (both civil and criminal) and to say that I was underprepared would be an understatement (I was up until 3am for the first weekend… literally survived on Redbulls for the criminal weekend and it weren’t pretty). We had to prepare for Motions on Saturday (short and long, contested motions) followed by Witness handling on the Sunday.

Overall the weekend fine but prep IS required. To get the most out of these weekends, you’d best do some level of prep. This is different from the Motions Day we had before – this time, you are given a new set of facts and information and case law to help you. You have not practise the advocacy for these facts before in Year 1, no. You will be doing the advocacy for the first time! Yes, it sounds scary and nerve-wrecking but this mimics the reality of practise at the Bar very well when you WILL be getting new information all !! the !! time !!

At the end of your advocacy, each student received feedback based on their advocacy from the ‘judge’ (a tutor) who will give in-depth feedback and might ask you to re-do your advocacy having taken the feedback on board. Yes, you might have to re-do your advocacy but can be worthwhile in terms of getting more practice in and putting your feedback into action.

Criminal Advocacy weekend was honestly so fine. It was fine, I promise. It was a tiring weekend, lots of work and prep to be done but it wasn’t impossible and if anything – you get a lot more out of it than you think! Saturday began with a talk by a member of the judiciary on all things advocacy. It was informative and insightful and a nice recap of what is expected of you to be a decent advocate (after all, that’s why we are here). Then – the next 2 hours were advocacy sessions, then a 1hr lunch break and another 2 hours of advocacy before concluding the day.

In complete contrast- this weekend was rough.

Not in terms of the prep and new materials, but because I was unwell for the entire weekend and really struggled to get through it. Just like the Criminal weekend, we had to prepare for Motions on Saturday and Witness handling on Sunday. On Saturday, I felt like I was coming down with something but was unsure what it was. I felt terrible for everyone in the room having to listen to me constantly cough and splutter for the entire weekend (sorry guys but shout out to you for putting up with me!). Saturday started fine, I felt comfortable with my advocacy and one of my areas of improvement was summarising an affidavit. I guess this goes down to confidence and being comfortable and confident with my knowledge of the facts.

Sunday… was terrible though.

I really really really struggled to say to the end of the day. I thought to myself, I think I should stay home. But being the passenger princess that I am, I got a lift in from Dad and played each session by ear. I felt ok after the morning talk but my focus wasn’t there. Even looking back at my notes, I’m like ‘what was I thinking?’ because it made no sense. I started to violently shiver, the tutor even asked me ‘are you ok, you seem really really cold’ – he was right to ask, I was visibly not ok. But I stayed the whole day. I made it. I don’t know how but I did but I felt absolutely rotten. I was encouraged to go home but Type A-me was like ‘but.. what about the exams?’

This is your sign to know when to say: enough is enough. Listen to yourself and your body. It is hard. Whilst I (now) don’t regret going in, but it is ok to take a day off for rest and recovery !! So as you can see from this intense month – it was productive but heavy.

This is my report until the next one. Let’s see what the rest of this year and what remains of the course will bring! If anything I’ve written here has piqued your interest in becoming a Barrister – I would recommend that you have a look at my Becoming-a-Barrister Diary series as I am documenting my experience as a BL student (as you’ve read already) – click here !

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

I’ll see you at the next entry,

Janet.

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