A day in the life

Jessica Powers

Commercial Team – called to the Bar July 2012

Since becoming a tenant at Five Paper in October 2013, I can honestly say that there has been no such thing as a ‘typical’ day. The only standard features of life as a junior barrister are that I am in court three or four days a week, and that there is always work to be done back at chambers.

Almost immediately after completing pupillage here, I was instructed through the Treasury Solicitor’s Baby Barrister scheme to work on a disclosure exercise in a multi-million pound claim. For nearly two months I was committing a substantial number of hours each week to the project, whilst at the same time building my practice by attending court hearings and doing written work.

The range of work I do covers enforcement proceedings, procedural applications, and small claims trials in areas as diverse as insolvency, contract and debt recovery. Some days I can be at court for a few minutes to secure a final charging order, and other days I am delivering legal submissions on anything from the validity of solicitors’ bills to the meaning of contractual terms in hearings which can last for a few hours. My cases are predominantly heard in county courts in and around London, and the High Court. However, I do sometimes travel outside of London.

When I get back to chambers, my time is usually spent preparing for the next cases in my diary. This can involve legal research, running ideas past more experienced members of chambers, and discussing strategy with my solicitor. I might also have some written work to do, such as drafting pleadings or witness statements. I also try and make the time to do pro bono work, which I consider to be all important at a time when legal aid is being so heavily cut.

Life as a junior tenant is not all hard work and no fun. At a friendly set like Five Paper, socialising with fellow members of chambers or clients is a regular feature of my working week, whether it be lunch, team drinks, or charity fundraisers like the Great Legal Bake Off.

Although I find it almost impossible to set out a typical day, I can say that I am never bored, constantly learning, and always looking forward to my next case.

Sam Phillips

Property team – called to the Bar July 2011

I started practice as a junior tenant in two of Five Paper’s specialist teams which led to a good deal of variety in my practice.  However, whether employment or property law I found that I spent most days each week before a court or tribunal.

Property and housing hearings can vary between the straightforward possession claim against a litigant-in-person to a contested trial of a disrepair claim or anti-social behaviour injunction.  Injunctions often mean being called upon at the last minute to rush off to court, learning about the case on the way. Recently I have been instructed to seek without notice orders before Circuit Judges and judges of the High Court to prevent serious harm to other residents.

Hearings in employment matters tend to be longer in duration but with more time to prepare.  Case management discussions, pre-hearing reviews and one to two day unfair dismissal trials are commonplace.  However, I was also instructed on complicated multi-day discrimination claims, which require a large amount of preparation and hard-work.

Most hearings are in and around London, which means that you quickly get familiar with the courts, ushers and judges.  However, on occasion I have been sent far from chambers, often at the last-minute, which can be simultaneously fun and terrifying.

When not in court, I’m likely to be found back at Five Paper.  A lot of my time in chambers is spent preparing cases.  This can include researching new points of law, considering tactics with my solicitors or discussing difficult problems with a more experienced colleague.  I also get asked to draft pleadings and prepare advices on issues as disparate to the prospects of success of a human rights defence to a possession claim to whether a Right to Manage company have properly charged for cleaning services.

I also give lectures and seminars on recent developments in property law to firms of solicitors, important clients or at Five Paper events.

I find that my work is full of surprises and unexpected challenges.  However, this is exactly why I enjoy being a barrister.

If you have any questions about applying for pupillage please address them to pupillage@fivepaper.com