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

3 images laptop on dinner table and ethics notes then Janet selfie elevator picture with brown coat and black bag on her back - then photo of Henrietta street of kings inns at night time

First of all, Happy New Year – can you believe that we are now in 2024?! Time is truly flying especially year 2 of the Modular course. I still pinch myself that we are fast approaching the end and that my days as a KI student are numbered. It’s great but there is a sense of fear too – the exams are well and truly on their way!! From the 2nd of January onwards, I spent a considerable amount of my time in the local library to prep for the Ethics Exam + Criminal unit 7.

Right – we’ve got lots to discuss this month my dear.✨ It was a pretty exciting month with 3 big things happening: we had our last ever criminal unit weekend, not only that, I sat my first KI Annual exam – Ethics and attended some fun events too! Let’s unpack.

Table of Contents:

I went Café Nero on O’Connell Street to grab the first coffee of the weekend – always. It’s one of the only coffee shops open on my route to the Inns. I go there, grab an oat latte, sometimes a yummy sweet treat (Danish pastry or croissant), and head up to the Inns in the dreary, cold and, grey weather.

It was as cold as you’d expect!! January’s cold weather came in with a vengeance. πŸ₯Ά The coffee wasn’t as great as I’d like it to be … but it was hot enough that it lasted such a long time and kept me warm.

Our criminal weekend was a productive learning experience weekend, the kind where you pay extra attention because… exams.. What did we do this weekend? We ran a Circuit Court criminal trial from start to finish. This included opening statements, hearing witness evidence and closing speeches. Our tutor very helpfully offered feedback and advice to each student on what to work on next and what worked well and what didn’t.

Each person was assigned at least 2x roles (witness, examining or cross-examining, or making an application). I had 3x roles which were to examine-in-chief one of the victims of an assault, act as a witness, and then reply to an application of no case to answer. I spent the night before prepping quite hard for this weekend, especially the trial as I wanted to do well and ensure I fully understood what it means to examine-in-chief. I think I did ok, could work on my techniques for writing notes and points to look out try get out of the witness.

The next big task for this weekend were to do 2x pleas in mitigation which are highly examinable advocacy exercises. We spent 2 session classes on these and I will be honest, I was rusty and could do with fine-tuning my language but it was great bc I knew what to focus on and prep for.

*Sigh* I had my first Inns exam. It was Ethics. Let’s talk about the experience of undergoing my first KI Annual exam.

‘Ethics, Professional Responsibility and Practice Management’ ‘tests your knowledge on ethical and professional duties and standards expected of you as a barrister’ – you are given a series of scenarios and expected to discuss any/all ethical issues that arise.

It’s a mandatory exam & it’s the very first Annual exam taking place in late January.

This is as-it-stands an in-person, invigilated closed-book exam BUT you are given a clean copy of the LSRA Code of Conduct and DPP guidelines too to base your answers on. It’s 3 hours long and you answer 4x questions. Its’ an exam that you MUST pass if you want to be admitted to the BL degree programme. I have to say (now!), that it is a nice feeling to have 1 exam out of the way and 11 more are awaiting. Yep, that’s right: 11! It’s definitely motivated me to want to get to the end of the exam season in April.

I figured that I would share how I prepared for this exam which isn’t too bad out of ALL of the exams I have to sit (I’m speaking as if I know what the other exam papers are like when I don’t!). Preparing for this exam paper is actually fine, I started at the end of December, took a few days off then went in hard from early January. This is what I did and it worked for me:

  • study plans – each study day, I wrote out a study plan, so I narrowed down my focus to a few things rather than trying to get everything done in one sitting. It kept me organised and I maintained a steady + sustainable study pace.
  • Notion/App checklist – for ticking off each session plan and q’s that I answered [serotonin vibes – iykyk].
  • Reading my class notes – why? the last time I read about or even thought about ethics was … 6 months ago lol.
  • Practise questions – I practised past class q’s again and tried to do them on my own without checking the answers, once happy – I checked the answers to see what I missed and wrote out a long, fuller answer.
  • Read over my answers…. a lot….. like A LOT.
  • Small study group – I was part of a small study group and we prepped for the Ethics exam together. This was SUPER helpful in terms of talking about what answers we each got, why we arrived at our answers, revising with each other and actually talking* about Ethics in general.
  • Reading the Codes – I read the LSRA Code in full and tried to learn where to locate certain topics that I felt were likely to appear in some way, shape, form in the exam. For example – ‘conflict of interests’ I imagined would be a big area to look out for and it is located 3 places in the Code so I wanted to be sure that I knew what it was, what it means and where I could find it in the Code too.

After the exam, without thinking twice, I jumped into the car and drove home because there was a water and electricity issue that needed dire attention and no=one was available to come down to help! Just what I needed before coming BACK to Dublin for karaoke * There was a lot of travelling on Exam day… !!

OK, yes, it wasn’t all Inns prep this month as I also celebrated my 27th birthday! Yes, 27 golden years on this earth which hasn’t fully sunk in yet as I write this out. Now I think about it… I think this is the first time I’ve actually written this ’27’ !! I had a lovely birthday – went for a yummy lunch with friends and then a quiet celebration at home.

Oh, my friend and I also participated in a negotiation competition in the Inns! There was a timing issue meaning we had to wait a bit longer to have our shot but we worked hard prepping and trying to find ways to achieve our client’s goals. You do learn about negotiation at the Inns but until you’ve actually done it yourself it can be quite adrenaline rushing. I can’t say that I was at my best but showing up and participation is half the battle. It was my first time ever participation in a negotiation competition and my goodness – highly recommend participating, even for the experience.

The Bar of Ireland v King’s Inns Rugby Match Day was also a bundle of fun evening out! A few of us went down to Donnybrook Stadium (Wesley Stadium) and watched as the lads battled it out on the pitch. In a surprising turn of events – it wasn’t as cold as we anticipated, despite the weather forecast!? However, that could be as my friend and I were singing, bringing out our inner-commentator(or lack thereof) and overall, everyone enjoyed the occasion. I wish I could have stayed on longer for the reception afterwards though but such is the commuting life…!!

Well, and we’ve reached the end of our report for January. The next few months are going to be busy, busy, busy 😳and what remains of the course will bring! If anything I’ve written here has piqued your interested in becoming a Barrister – I would highly recommend that you have a look at my Becoming-a-Barrister Diary series. I am documenting my experience as a BL student in real-time – click here 

If you would like to follow me in real-time, my daily mundane life and see what i get up to daily + weekly – you’ll find me on Instagram @itsjanetyennusick – do come and say hi πŸ¦‹βœ¨β˜•οΈπŸ“ΈπŸ’­πŸ–€

I’ll see you at the next entry,

Janet.

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