Ros Earis joined Chambers in 2013, after completing her pupillage supervised by Duncan Atkinson and Miranda Hill. She talks us through her year as a pupil at 6KBW College Hill.
First six (non-practising)
I spent most of my first six months at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey). I watched and took notes as my supervisor, one of Treasury Counsel, appeared in murder and terrorism trials. I saw some of the best advocacy in the country, and some of the finest legal argument. Before and after court I helped (and learned from) my supervisor as he prepared his cases: analysing evidence, researching points of law, and drafting case summaries and skeleton arguments. I also sat in on his conferences.
When I wasn’t with my supervisor, I regularly shadowed other Members of Chambers at all levels of seniority and across a wide variety of work. Among other things, I saw cases in the Magistrates’ Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and in the Immigration Tribunal.
Towards the end of the first six, Chambers arranged for each of the pupils to spend one week with an instructing solicitor, and one with a District Judge in Westminster Magistrates’ Court. This was a valuable opportunity to see the job from a different perspective, as well as to learn some important “dos” and “don’ts”.
As with all pupils at 6KBW, I took part in Chambers’ in-house Pupillage Training Course, which I thought was excellent. Throughout the first six, we had weekly lessons in advocacy from senior Members of Chambers, using fictional cases in which we played the advocates and Members of Chambers played the witnesses. The Course culminated in a mock trial at the Bailey before a resident judge and (even more nerve-wracking) everyone in Chambers.
Second six (practising)
In my second six I changed supervisor, to a Member of Chambers who focuses on corporate defence and advisory work. This showed me a completely different type of criminal practice, based less in court and more on written work. I spent time researching points of law and drafting lengthy notes of advice – often involving novel legal points.
A week into my second six came The Big Day: taking on my own cases. From then on I spent most days (probably four out of five) in court, either representing clients in the Magistrates’ Courts, or covering hearings in the Crown Court for other Members of Chambers. Almost all of my own work was in traditional crime such as theft, common assault and driving matters; but between us, my co-pupils and I also covered extradition hearings, ASBO applications, immigration appeals on behalf of the Home Office, confiscation hearings, judicial reviews and even some employment law. One of us was instructed to defend in a Crown Court trial towards the end of the second six.
Throughout my pupillage I was asked to do work for other Members of Chambers (“devilling”), which usually meant researching a point of law or attempting to draft a skeleton argument. Devilling was challenging—both the standard of work expected of me, and organising my time to fit it in—but it was a good way to learn and receive feedback.
Pupillage at 6KBW was hard work, but I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much so quickly. I left my pupillage in no doubt that I’d been given the best possible start to my career and looking forward to my life as a tenant – and with a good sense of what that would involve.