The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Work experience

see the litigation process from a judicial perspective. You will read the skeleton arguments and papers before the court and then watch the trial unfold. The process is immensely useful: you quickly learn which advocacy styles are effective and which to avoid. When it comes to applying for pupillages, marshalling experience will help you to answer those standard interview questions, such as ‘What makes a good barrister?’ Marshalling is a good introduction to court, the roles of the advocates and the ultimate aim of advocacy as a barrister – persuading the judge. Free Representation Unit Other options include volunteering for the Free Representation Unit (FRU), a charity that provides free legal representation to those who cannot afford it. FRU trains you to represent its clients at tribunals. Lots of barristers/solicitors look favourably on this practical experience, which is invaluable when applying for pupillage and training contracts. We spoke to a pupil at Blackstone Chambers, who said: “I volunteered at FRU for almost two years while on the GDL and BPTC. Outside of studying, I think it was the most useful thing I did. FRU gives you the opportunity to get stuck into practical elements of law in a way that not many other pro bono organisations do. You have to meet and advise clients, run a piece of litigation on your own and ultimately may have to argue a case before the Employment or Social Security Tribunal. In short, you get real experience of what being a barrister is like.” The first step in volunteering is to attend an induction day for the area in which you are interested. They are usually held eight times a year, with four of the days focused on training in employment law and the other four in social security. You can attend

Alternative work experience in the business world can also help you to build your commercial awareness, as Matthew Parker, barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings, points out: “Non-legal work experience is very useful if it involves skills that are important at the Bar, such as public speaking, collecting and presenting information or dealing with clients. For the commercial Bar, it is often very helpful to have had some experience in a business environment, which will help develop commercial awareness and enable you to engage with clients’ concerns on their level.” Citizens Advice One option is to volunteer at your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Maxine Cole, a senior crown prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, volunteered for about a year at the Barking and Dagenham CAB following her master’s degree. She comments: “I provided advice on housing law, landlord and tenant issues, claims for disrepair and welfare law. When it came to applying for training contracts, I was able to talk about some of my experiences at CAB – for example, when asked to discuss how I dealt with a difficult situation, I referred to an incident at the CAB involving a client with Alzheimer’s. I would certainly recommend CAB work because the training is excellent: you are trained in all the areas that they expect you to advise on and in how to use their files to find information. It teaches you how to apply the law in reality and hones your interview and advice skills.” Even a few weeks at the CAB could work to your advantage. Like Maxine, you will be able to include the experience on your CV and then talk about it at interview. Court work Court work is another option. Marshalling involves spending time with a judge to



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