Room Without A View
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.“Come in. Right, sit down there. Over the coming weeks, I will give you one case at a time. There is the first one over there. You may only knock on my door to drop off one piece of work and collect the next. You will not ask me any questions. You may be present at client conferences and court appearances with me. You must attend chambers tea twice a day without fail. Have I made myself clear? Well, collect the first bundle of papers and go to your room.”
My ‘room’ was in fact a storage cupboard which I shared with George. There was just enough space for both of us to squeeze in and sit amongst the boxes containing old case papers stacked on rickety shelves from floor to ceiling. We had a good laugh in that room, clear in the knowledge that our remote pupilmasters were not interested in being anywhere near us. And this Chambers offered some of the most sought after pupillages in the country. Still, we passed the time reading up on cases, chatting and playing computer card competitions, timed against the clock. There were occasional celebrations coming from the cupboard after one or the other won a game. George and I were left well alone to get on with our pupillages. He was an outcast and I was the outsider.