At the beginning of May, LLB Law student, Lauren Pritchard spent a week at 25 Bedford Row on a mini-piupillage, in order to gain practical experience in advocacy and at the Bar.
25 Bedford Row are a specialist Criminal Defence set of Chambers
Tuesday 1st May
On my first day I travelled to Snaresbrook Crown Court to accompany Abi, who had two matters to deal with.
The first was regarding an appeal from the Magistrates Court of a common assault sentence. Her defence was impeccable and she managed to argue a suspended custodial sentence down to a mere fine.
She invited me out and treated me to lunch, where we got to know each other more and she was able to give me some invaluable insight and advice about life as a young woman at the Bar. She also shared that she campaigns for diversity, via public speaking and social media.
In the afternoon, a case regarding a young couple where a stab wound had been inflicted was adjourned until a later date. This helped me to understand the level of information that is needed before you can properly represent a client in court and that some matters need to be held off under further information is gathered; in this case, they were awaiting a specialist to inspect if the wound was self-inflicted.
Wednesday 2nd May
During the first half of the day I joined Monica Stevenson in a historic sexual abuse case, where a man had molested his niece many years ago. I learned that these sorts of cases are very popular due to change in social attitudes, meaning that more than ever people are speaking out and getting justice for historic matters that may previously not have been considered. This case was adjourned until a later date.
Wednesday afternoon I joined Chester Beyts for a trial regarding four separate counts, including false imprisonment and grievous bodily harm. The trial continued over until the end of Thursday.
I witnessed the trial from beginning to end, was permitted access to the cells speaking to various defendants [and the] advocates lounge, which allowed me to network, as well as sitting next to Chester during the course of his advocacy. I got to witness a jury getting sworn in and counter arguments from both Chester and the Crown Prosecution Service. I also got to read the case bundle, being shown how to research relevant statute and case law, as well as court procedure and protocol.
This experience was very insightful, it put academic studies into practice and allowed me to meet the defendant behind the crime, his background and how he was portrayed by the court.
Chester was by far the most memorable barrister I worked with. He went above and beyond to teach me as much as he could about practicing at the Bar: from how a case is put together […] with basic procedures/traditions, to general friendly advice about attitudes and conduct when applying. He took me out and treated me to lunch and we have exchanged e-mail and numbers, inviting me to ask any further questions/advice at any time which is extremely helpful for the future.
Thursday 3rd May
Thursday morning I joined Laura Collier and Alex Jamieson, whilst waiting for the previous over-running trial to finish, so Chester’s could formally begin.
Laura was defending an appeal concerning a traffic offence, however this was adjourned as they were awaiting further evidence.
Following this, I accompanied Alex who was defending a young man who had stabbed someone. This hearing was Alex’s mitigation to the judge: some points included his age and background. This is then taken into consideration by the judge which may lessen the defendant’s sentence. This was an extremely good demonstration of advocacy.
Throughout the afternoon I re-joined Chester for the remainder of the trial. Unfortunately, due to lack of witness correspondence, this case was chucked out and no further action was taken.
Friday 4th May
During my final day at Inner London Crown Court, I had an amazing opportunity to witness true advocacy.
This case was regarding a multi-defendant trial where three defendants were being tried. Co-defence barristers, Alex and Emma, were presenting their closing speeches to the jury.
Each speech is approximately 40 minutes long [and] sums up each defendants whole defence in attempt to lure the jury to find them not guilty.
I had never witnessed this before and it gave me a true taster of how important the way a barrister presents the case [impacts] some[one’s] sentence.
I send my most sincere thanks to the sponsor who has allowed me to attend this amazing opportunity, which I otherwise would not have had the means to attend.
This opportunity was truly invaluable to me in terms of the experience I will need in order to be considered in such a competitive field, ultimately making me stand out and become more employable when applying for full pupillage and tenancy.
I have been able to network which allows me to gain further opportunities and contacts for my future career. Mostly, it has confirmed my aspiration to work as a barrister, making me ever more determined to thrive. I have since joined the Honourable Society of Middle Temple and intend to start my application to the Bar Professional Training Course in December.