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Pupillage and a Pandemic – Hannah Turner

The beginning of 2021 has been difficult for a number of people, for a whole variety of reasons. The typical January blues, the start of lockdown (AGAIN?!) and just a general sense of despair when thinking of the year ahead. Some then, find it rather strange when I tell them 2021 has been one of the best years of my life so far, and we’re only three months in!

I am writing this having just completed week nine of pupillage at Crown Chambers. Without running the risk of sounding like a walking cliché, what a whirlwind nine weeks it has been. Throughout the BPTC, you are always told that pupillage will be the quickest twelve months of your life, and I didn’t believe them…until now. I’ve spent the first part of my pupillage shadowing my pupil supervisor in criminal proceedings. I was thrown straight in at the deep end with five weeks of back to back trials from day one and, as a result of this, I’ve had the opportunity to actually be in court! I’ve probably not had the typical experience other ‘pandemic pupils’ have had however, the time I’ve spent in court has been hugely beneficial. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a whole range of people; from court staff to barristers from other chambers and even some of my fellow pupils!

Undeniably the use of video link into court, from prisons and counsel’s kitchen, has proven to be an invaluable tool throughout the pandemic. However, there are certain things you can’t quite experience through the lens of your webcam. Like where to sit in court, the way to stand when giving your submissions and the door code to get into the robing room! I feel very fortunate to have already had this experience however, I am eagerly anticipating the day when we can all get back into court….and the pub!

Moving to a new city, in the middle of a global pandemic, during a national lockdown, to start pupillage, sounds like it should have been a daunting task and believe me, it was. However, the support I have received from chambers has been absolutely invaluable. Despite not being able to meet in the traditional sense, the wonders of technology have allowed us to meet in the non-conventional (but sadly now, normal) way…. Zoom. This has meant that we’ve been able to have almost bi-weekly catch up’s with nearly every member of chambers. We’ve shared stories of the cases we’ve been involved in, heard what pre-lockdown life in court was like and have absorbed every piece of advice that has been thrown our way.

As a pupil you’re taking your first steps into a career where you are continuously learning, particularly from your peers. It has quickly become apparent that every single member of chambers (from the most senior to my fellow pupils) are willing to invest their time and knowledge into your professional development. To be surrounded by people who are so welcoming and eager to offer advice and guidance when needed, has made this daunting step seem effortless.

For all of the stories you are told about what to expect during pupillage, I don’t think anything can prepare you for the reality. “Sex, drugs and serious violence” was how my pupil supervisor described my first few weeks and, whilst it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the usual saying goes, it’s certainly been an unforgettable experience. I am eagerly anticipating what lies ahead….

Hannah Turner – Pupil 


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