Our Family Pupil Bethany Pitt shares a brief insight into her pupillage so far…

Whilst I sit and reflect on my first three months in pupillage, I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. I started pupillage in an unorthodox way, as a month prior I had knee surgery which meant I attended my first day with a set of crutches. Everyone was so supportive and accommodating but of course Manchester CJC had one of their infamous fire alarms and I embarrassingly had to hobble down 6 flights of stairs whilst holding up 100s of people behind me. Safe to say, it was a baptism by fire (alarm).

My pupillage is a specialist one, which means I have had the opportunity to wholly focus on family law. I currently observe both private and public law, but my main interest lies in public law due to my background working in foster care. The family team have a wealth of knowledge in this area, and I look forward to shadowing DDJ Maddison in care proceedings so I can observe from a different perspective in court. Whilst the cases can be challenging at times, I have learnt so much from those who enjoy this area of work.

The best part of pupillage is that no day is the same. Not only do you observe a range of cases, but you also have to contend with different types of clients, counsel and Judges (whilst making meticulous notes about how to win them over for when I’m on in feet). The work I also complete varies. On some days I observe, take notes and debrief at the end of the day and on other days I draft orders, write attendance notes or conduct research.

Whilst pupillage can be stressful, it isn’t all work and no play. There is a great community at the northern bar with many social events. One of my highlights has been the northern circuit dinners (mess), as it’s a great way to meet Judges, Barristers and other pupils on circuit. Chambers have also held welcome drinks, networking events and dinners so I have quickly gotten to know the family team and other members of Chambers. The Northern Circuit also organises training days which allow you to practice your advocacy and prepare for managing your career at the bar. It’s a great occasion, not only to learn, but to see other pupils and swap stories or tips.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started pupillage. All I had to go on was the old school horror stories where pupils were inundated with work, stressed out of their minds, barely having time to eat or sleep. Thankfully, this has not been my experience. My pupillage has a great work-life balance and my supervisor ensures I never go hungry! Whilst pupillage can be hard work, the family team have been incredibly supportive and are willing to help wherever they can. I look forward to what’s to come in my last three months before I am on my feet. 

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