Diary: Life as a Crucible Pupil - Month 1.
07 November 2022
Welcome to the first post in our monthly update from our two new pupils, Liam Chin and Camila Ferraro. We hope that this will prove useful to all of those hoping to secure pupillage, and to anyone who wants to find out a little more about life at the Bar.
Before starting pupillage, we were invited to Chambers to meet the head of Crucible, heads of pupillage, and our pupil supervisors. We were briefed on the structure of our pupillage, in-house advocacy training course, and how to best approach the year ahead.
My first month of pupillage has been brilliant. My pupil supervisor, Laura Bayley, has a practice centred on professional discipline, regulatory law, and DBS appeals. I have been introduced to some of the fascinating work available in these practice areas while attending a range of hearings and undertaking legal research.
I have also gained a snapshot of the thriving practice enjoyed by other members of Chambers, traversing between various crown courts across London. Cases have ranged from a robbery trial where the defendant was unfit to plead to a murder trial at the Old Bailey. At each hearing, members have always taken the time to discuss the strategic, procedural and ethical elements arising in each case with me. I have also had the opportunity to develop my drafting and research skills alongside attending court. This has enabled me to improve my time management skills to meet competing deadlines.
I have met almost everyone at Crucible in the span of four weeks. I have found members and staff to be incredibly welcoming and keen to share their knowledge and experience of the law. There is no doubt that pupillage is a challenging process, but I am very encouraged by the inclusivity and supportiveness at Chambers. This is important to me as a Latinx woman. The sense of community is evident by the various events arranged by Chambers including the social events, drinks after hearings, and the dinners at some truly exquisite restaurants.
Pupillage is such a strange thing. You dream of attaining it from the moment you decide to become a barrister. You work extremely hard to make that dream a reality, starting with written applications when the pupillage gateway opens, then, if you are fortunate enough attending many quite challenging interviews, in the knowledge that you are up against hundreds if not thousands of extremely bright and capable individuals. However, no applicant truly knows what pupillage involves at the time of applying. So, it is only natural that when the phone rang at 9am on the 6th of May to tell me that I had been successful in my application to my number one set, the overwhelming feeling was that of utter jubilation. I had obtained my ultimate dream and could not wait to start as a pupil at Crucible.
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment, but as pupillage drew nearer, that jubilation was most definitely replaced by total fear. As someone from a non-traditional route to the Bar, having had a previous career as a chef, and then completing my law degree with the Open University, which is something I say proudly, imposter syndrome is something that I have had to overcome many times on this journey. I questioned whether I truly deserved to be there and whether I was good enough to be at a chambers that already has such a fine reputation, having only been established two years ago.
We were fortunate enough to be invited to drinks with our head of chambers, pupillage supervisors, and heads of pupillage before we commenced. This meeting alone managed to allay most of the fears that I had now stored in my head. I cannot begin to describe how welcoming and nurturing everyone at chambers is.
My first month as a pupil has been incredible. Oli Renton, my pupil supervisor, specialises in criminal defence work. I have been to a variety of different courts and seen a plethora of cases. One of the many great things about being a pupil at Crucible is that if someone in chambers has a case on which would be of value to see, you will be sent there. I have seen fitness to plead hearings, cases with insanity defences, as well as accompanying our newest tenants to court, so that I can appreciate the kind of work I will be doing in 5 months when I am on my feet.
The learning process at chambers is truly brilliant. I am never spoon-fed answers to difficult questions that arise in cases. Instead, I am encouraged to research them myself and formulate my own opinion, which I then feedback to Oli. Explaining your findings, thought process, and reasoning daily challenges you in a way that keeps you engaged and hungry to attain perfection.
I have also carried out research for several members of chambers. This is often in areas of law which I was not familiar with before. For the first time, I actually enjoy reading Archbold and Blackstone’s, because I am now doing so with purpose. As a result, I am building quite a personal portfolio of research that I can use in the future. The foundations for a successful career are certainly being laid.