Wig And Gown
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.
There were six pupils here but the pupillage was less structured. There were not many pupil barristers with any substance. There was an older woman who was into gardening roses, a younger female who never spoke much and most of the others were even more drab. The stand-out person was an overweight, balding, arrogant man. He had worked for years in a bulge-bracket investment bank and bragged his recent earnings outstripped most barristers in chambers. I could have done without it, but we disliked each other instantly. He tried to create the rules in that room without mandate. I got on with my work and refused to be bossed by him. It was a difficult place to exist with one loud-mouth and a flock of sheep. But I made it through without physically harming him.
Back to the real work, I enjoyed my time with Peter and we got along really well. His caseload involved a large negligence claim which had been going on for many years. It was all a bit Bleak House, but the reality was not nearly as dull as a Dickens novel. Some commercial law disputes and other property matters were also on the go, including a boundary dispute. It was all interesting stuff so I knuckled down to write some good pleadings and legal opinions. Peter and I often went for walks in the gardens of the Inn of Court and discussed matters of law, as well as any other topic that arose.
I was buried in books and time passed quickly. Toward the end of my time with Peter, we had a hearing in the Court of Appeal and he let me draft the pleadings. I must have done okay, because my work was submitted to the court and I wore a wig and gown before the Lord Justices of Appeal. Opposing counsel talked outside court and found some of our older cases ‘Amusing.’ I thought he was smarmy and overbearing. In court and after submissions, a judge summed up. He discussed the cases and noted they were over two hundred years old, but the analysis convinced him of the merits of our appeal. I smiled as we won.