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

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

So – next month. It’s October now. Let’s unpack. I really liked this month!

Table of Contents:

What did we do this weekend? Case analysis, drafting an indictment and moving/opposing an application based on section [1][f] of the Criminal Evidence Act 1994. Yes, a fun and heavy weekend – and it was online! Case analysis featured heavily this weekend- understanding what your case is about, what you are learning about the accused / victims and all others associated with a crime that’s been committed. We learned how to identify when an offence has been committed, what proofs to look out for those offences and determining whether the proofs had been met – we were putting on our DPP hats. It seemed like an easy task at first but when you break it down: there’s actually a lot more than meets the eye towards identifying offences – gosh. This is part of the fun of being a criminal lawyer.

Do you remember I said that you need to keep all your entrance exams notes because you’ll be referring back to them? This was one of those weekends where I exclusively relied on my entrance exam notes to remind myself of some of the key cases to help identify the proofs of an offence, eg assault and also what doesn’t constitute as one of the proofs.

Our tutor made a good point of ensuring you understood your case – which side are you on? what are you trying to achieve? what are my weaknesses? what building blocks do I need to get over to meet my goal? If you are prosecuting what’s your goal, aside from a‘ driving sense of justice‘ (not my quote)

Everything is: knowing your position, understand it and plan accordingly. Oh and, read your papers multiple times!

Practise Management was on a Saturday whereby we had 4 sessions worth of talks including: managing finances (specifically taxation), starting a business, barrister-solicitor relationship and devilling. It was in-person but quite chill that involved little prep except for attending. The format of the day was different too – we had longer breaks and a longer lunch break too – it was nice to be able to enjoy food !!

Speakers came in to talk to all of us on various topics but I found the talk on Devilling and the barrister-solicitor relationship were very useful and insightful. Some important point I picked up on that I think are worth sharing are:

Devilling tips:

  • Set out your intentions with your Master as early as you can. Let your Master know of other commitments you may have 
  • In consultations with a client – the rule is: don’t speak as your Master is the person with the expertise and experience – and who was instructed, not you. (and bring an extra pen and notepad)
  • Feedback on your drafting/paperwork = ask questions, don’t just wait for it You will make mistakes. It’s part of the job
  • ‘Being seen is half the battle’
  • Spend as much time as possible in court, even if you’re not too busy: watch your colleagues, their styles of advocacy and be learning all the time  
  • Try to get a wide variety of experience if possible
  • Communication is key and to get instructed, its not always about how good of a Barrister you are; sometimes it’s whether you can work well with the solicitor and if Counsel will suit the client too
  • Be early, be prepared, be set up but know that there will be ebbs and flows
  • ‘Be collaborative, not combative’ 
  • If ever something goes wrong – be upfront, honest and inform the solicitor at earliest possible opportunity. Mistakes can be fixed.
  • Emotional intelligence – helpful: Use cognitive thinking and tech knowledge. 
  • Be humane – find human element in papers and talk to people as a human before launching into the law.

This month was a fun friends month! I celebrated my friend’s birthday, I went to a Barbie-themed birthday party and watched the Eras Tour Documentary!! Gosh, that was actually quite a lot now I think about it.. I found that this month FLEW by, and I think part of that was having made plans to see friends and ensuring I had some form of a social life. I’ve said it before but you gotta do non-law activities in addition to pursuing your career pursuits. That’s a major mistake I made last year when I just simply did not do anything for WEEKS on end. Not great, I know.

Oh my gosh – the Eras Tour movie was just excellent. Bestie and I went for sushi beforehand and the selection was nothing short of YUM. Then… we say the movie. Wow. Did bestie and I sing to most/all of Taylor’s songs even though no-one else joined in? Yes. Did we care? No. Would we do it again? Without haste.

After, I went to a Barbie-themed birthday/Halloween party – SO. MUCH. FUN. Everyone was wonderfully dressed up, Birthday-gal had a great night as we all celebrated the day of her birth. Vibes were immaculate and it was definitely one for the books. Like, her place was decorated to the nines with Barbie decor. It was just so cool?!

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 interested 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.

Until the next diary entry,

Janet.

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