Making progress, not tea

…while George Laurencin got lucky at a London chambers. George Laurencin did a mini pupillage at Doughty Street Chambers, London. Mini pupillage: to the lay person this sounds like an unpleasant eye disorder. However, to those in the know the term refers to a short period of placement, usually a week at the most, with a set of chambers.

The mini pupillage allows those who are interested in becoming barristers to sample life at the Bar, generally, and within chambers specifically.

Recently I embarked on one at Doughty Street Chambers close to London's Gray's Inn.

A mini pupillage is not always what it seems. Tales abound of mini pupils who end up either as tea-makers for learned counsel or baggage handlers for others too involved with their briefs or merely indifferent to the mini pupils' learning experience.

This was not the case with this set which has developed a very professional and structurally beneficial course involving up-to-the-minute total quality management techniques, customer care, team building and continuous improvement/ assessment facilities.

For the week, my group of eight mini pupils was regarded as being part of of chambers. Everyone seemed to know who we were. We were allowed, within reason, full use of chambers' facilities.

In addition we were supplied with a diary, court attendance programmes, 'blue books' and information packs. Our week's events were detailed and we were fully aware of what was required of us. Having little or no knowledge of legal affairs was in no way an obstacle.

As well as going to court, tribunals or the Privy Council, we were encouraged to discuss the general aspects of cases with counsel. Also, both leading and junior counsel gave briefings and seminars. This included sitting in on case conferences and discussing procedure both before and after. Confidentiality was, of course, paramount.

At the end of each day, we re-assembled as a group with the practice manager and senior administrator. Each of us reported back on what we had done that day, learned or had difficulty in understanding. We were encouraged to ask questions or request other information on items which our agendas did not cover.

The whole week's experience was totally exhilarating; wine at the end of some evenings no doubt played its part. A structured mini pupillage is excellent if it is well thought-out and it is certainly a concept which more chambers should adopt .