More about Jack
Jack studied the Bar Professional Training Course at NTU, graduating in 2021. He is currently a Pupil Barrister in Nottingham.
Why did you choose to study at NTU?
I had heard great things about Nottingham Law School (NLS) in particular, from people in the legal profession, and I had noticed that many local practitioners had received their training at NLS.
The attraction of Pro Bono legal volunteering available for students, including drafting, advice and advocacy, at the Legal Advice Centre (now NLS Legal) was a significant attraction for me.
Finally, as someone Nottingham-born-and-bred, I wanted to be based in Nottingham for my training before then hopefully going on to base my practice in the Midlands.
What did you learn – both inside and outside of lectures?
What always struck me at NLS was the genuine investment which lecturers actively held and showed in us students. My tutors were invested in my success, and this came across in the dynamic, constructive and practice-focused teaching we received.
What extra-curricular activities did you take part in? What impact did this have on you?
Almost immediately on my arrival at NLS, I started volunteering at the NLS Legal Advice Centre (now NLS Legal). I started out assisting in giving advice to commercial and business clients before progressing onto my own case load and conducting advocacy both in the County Court and the Tribunals.
As I became more involved, I was privileged to be appointed a Lead Advisor for the Centre and Chair of their Student Pro Bono Committee, where I enjoyed getting to know more students and learning about their different volunteering work in the community.
It was a great pleasure and privilege to work alongside qualified lawyers who encouraged an atmosphere of mutual collaboration in case work, reflective of a practice I now aspire to build in Chambers.
What is your current role and what does your day involve?
There’s no typical day for a pupil barrister! I might spend the day observing my pupil supervisor in court, attending conferences with their clients and discussions with opposing counsel. Equally, I might be on the road, travelling to courthouses across the country, as I undertake my own cases. I enjoy a mixed practice in pupillage including a range of Small Claims Trials and interim hearings. I also spend time in Chambers with my supervisor, preparing my own cases and drafting my own paperwork such as advices or pleadings. And finally, there is a healthy sprinkle of paperwork drafting for my supervisor to help keep me busy!
What attracted you to this field of work?
The flexibility, the intensity and the sheer thrill of courtroom advocacy. Receiving cases to process and prepare day by day, before heading into court and presenting the best possible “picture” of what evidence we have, stretches my mind and inspires in me a sense of creativity and rigour of thought. Managing my own diary day-to-day and being able to argue my cases, adapting to the changes and chances of the day, give me an ongoing rush and satisfaction I knew I would not find anywhere else.
What have been the highlights and biggest challenges of your career so far?
My first “solo” case was a trial where I had a few hurdles (procedural and evidential) to overcome. In the hearing, I started questioning the other side’s witness and to my amazement, the carefully constructed plan of cross-examination designed to elicit as much helpful evidence as possible, was starting to work! Concessions were flowing, and I hid the amazement from my face as I kept on extracting further material. It was a real high for my first case, showing that advocacy really does make a difference in the courtroom!
Equally, the moment when you start receiving work based on recommendations from word-of-mouth is a highlight. I don’t think I could ever have been prepared for the satisfaction when you can see the reality of “building up your business”.
Challenges have been aplenty also. The work is intense, and voluminous. Burning the midnight oil is a reality in this work and having to prepare papers to tight deadlines can take its toll as you seek to manage your commitments. Making quick judgment calls in cases and managing various priorities requires constant thought and quick decision-making.
For this reason, it has been so important that I develop a discipline of setting time aside for when “work is done” and I can switch off. I think this is essential for anybody going into this type of work.
What are your plans for the future?
All things being well, I am hopeful to remain at Ropewalk Chambers on completion of my pupillage. If taken on as a tenant, I would look forward to exploring the different areas of work available to pursue in Chambers and to continue building a solid practice-base here in the Midlands.
If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at uni?
All that time and energy going into setting myself up for a life in practice – it does all pay off!