Wig And Gown

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It was time to begin my practising 2nd six months pupillage, during which I was entitled to receive instructions from clients. However, chancery work was so heavy duty it would never happen. I arrived one bright, spring morning and walked up the stone steps to Four Oak Court, where I would complete my pupillage. I was soon introduced to my first pupilmaster at this set, Peter Clifford. He was quite short and wore an obligatory chalk stripe suit and large glasses. He greeted me with a smile. We talked and made our way downstairs to his room in the far corner of chambers. It was small and packed from floor to ceiling in all directions with books on shelves and makeshift arrangements holding lever arch files. He talked about the cases he was working on and gave me some papers to go through in a separate pupils’ room. In my comfort zone with a warm personality, things were about to change. Continue reading

Moving On

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I entered a period toward the end of my 1st six months pupillage when the barristers in chambers opened up a lot more toward me. I was chatting to a barrister in her room one day and asked her why this set of chambers usually took on Oxbridge graduates. “We stick with what we know,” she replied. Candidates like me were an unknown quantity. Continue reading

I Refuse To Be Beaten

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It was soon time to sit with a third pupilmaster and I was actually allowed in his room. My 1st six months pupillage was nearing its end and all the pupils’ marks would soon be collated. I was given a Companies Act petition to draft and looked through the papers as my new pupilmaster spoke. Continue reading

Lying Twatte

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Jeremy called out and strode across the square toward me. Continue reading

Weak Argument

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My new pupilmaster’s first case was about a statute that stated certain contracts must expressly be agreed in writing. We had a hearing in the Court of Appeal where my pupilmaster was going to argue this statute could be interpreted to include implicit oral agreements. ‘Good luck with that one,’ I thought. Continue reading

Room Without A View

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During a break in the court calendar, chambers arranged some paid employment in a law firm. All four pupils worked in a basement and it was taken as an unspoken competition to bill the most hours. We worked all day and into the night. Given it was the holidays and the other pupils were wealthy, before long they began to go home at 10 or 11 p.m. I was hungrier, literally, and worked the longest hours by far. It probably counted for nothing to the barristers in chambers, but I earned good money there. Afterwards, I transferred to a second pupilmaster in order to get exposure to different cases and mix with other barristers at Two Oak Court. My new pupilmaster called me into his room and laid down the rules for my six week stint with him. Continue reading

Stress

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One morning, I walked from the clerks’ room across Oak Court toward Jeremy’s room and saw Bertie Dewitt speaking to Giles Twatte, who had his back to me. As I got closer, they continued talking. Continue reading

All England

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I was tested every day – sometimes it involved a reasoned application of law to facts – and other times it was off-the-cuff. While working on some papers, Jeremy asked me about a legal principle. From memory, I gave him the name of the relevant court case. He asked for the law report and year. Continue reading

Into Court

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I spent a lot of my time in the High Court in London and, most days, Jeremy purposely strode off from Two Oak Court wearing a moth-eaten old horsehair wig on his head with a black gown flowing behind. I was usually walking either quickly alongside or trailing in his wake carrying a big pile of papers bound in pink tape. Around the Inns of Court, this was a common scene of barrister and pupil making their way to and from the courts. The vaulted ceiling of the Royal Courts of Justice entrance hall overlooked enormous, dark oil paintings of judges. The different numbered courts were up various stairways to the sides and along softly lit stone corridors. The vast doors to the courts opened up to wooden benches and panelled walls. Continue reading

Facing The Enemy

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I walked across Oak Court to Jeremy’s room one morning and saw Giles Twatte. It was obvious he disliked me and the feeling was mutual. He was openly dismissive and seemed too impressed with himself. And one of us would necessarily have to beat the other in terms of graded legal work, seeing as we were in direct competition with each other. He caught up with me, looking self-assured in his expensive suit. Continue reading