A day in the life of an employed barrister – Charlotte Pope-Williams, Pinsent Masons LLP
I am an employed barrister. I currently work at Pinsent Masons LLP, an international law firm which specialises in the energy, infrastructure, financial services, real estate and advanced manufacturing and technology sectors. Before working at Pinsents, I worked at the Bank of England having previously worked at a common law set of chambers and completed a traditional self-employed pupillage there. Before pupillage I undertook legal work experience in a range of institutions and countries including the European Commission, Ministry of Justice Tribunal Service, commercial litigation in Canada and the British Virgin Islands prior to which I had completed my Bar Professional Training Course at BPP in London having read Law and French Law at University College London.
I am not a paragon of virtue; some days I am more efficient and some days less so. However, as you make your way through these paragraphs hopefully you will get a sense of the range of activities that an Employed Barrister might undertake on any one day.
I live by the mantra healthy body, healthy mind. Ordinarily I will get up at 6:00am and head to the gym for at least an hour or attend a spin or yoga class. I am then set for the day ahead. My morning routine also includes checking my emails and social media (Twitter, LinkedIn) for interesting current affairs, legal and/or economic news and stories. Where my day does not involve face-to-face client meetings or court attendance I may work from home. This is especially the case where I need to complete a complex piece of drafting or advice; silence, comfort and my favourite snacks being on hand greatly assists.
I always try and swallow my proverbial frog at the start of the day i.e. tackle the task I find the hardest and/or that I am least looking forward to first e.g. a complex legal research task. I will also speak to my brilliant PA about any administrative tasks that need to be completed. My day might then include visiting a client’s office to advise in conference. This way a client can ask questions that immediately spring to mind about law and strategy. The types of cases that I work on can run for months if not years. It follows that my team will regularly update the client, work closely with members of the self-employed bar and consider strategy and tactics carefully e.g. should the client consider making or accepting a Part 36 offer (an offer to settle) or seek some form of interim relief.
My practice includes contentious financial regulatory work so I may be assisting a financial institution in its internal investigations into a particular matter. This might involve interviewing senior executives and reviewing documents to reach conclusions that can be presented to regulatory bodies such as the Prudential Regulatory Authority or the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA“).
My practice also includes traditional financial service litigation. This means that sometimes I will spend a majority of the day in court with other members of my team. Alternatively, I may spend most of the day representing a client in alternative dispute resolution proceedings such as a mediation. I also volunteer with Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit), so I may be in court representing someone in a voluntary capacity for free.
I may take a client out for lunch as part of business development. In the alternative I might attend a lunchtime lecture e.g. about the FCA’s latest rules, an update on the latest contract case law or a wellbeing talk about sleep and recovery. Absent lunchtime activities I will have lunch at my firm’s internal restaurant (sometimes I will have lunch “al desko” i.e. at my desk). However, I generally make sure that I take a few short breaks in the day for fresh air and to clear my mind.
After lunch I may draft some more advice, articles or presentations on current legal affairs for clients. I have to record my time. I use timers during the day to record how much time I have spent working on different matters or tasks. I therefore update my timesheet at the end of everyday. In the late afternoons/early evenings sometimes I attend Bar Council meetings or legal or industry networking events. I will head home at around 6:30-7pm when I don’t have something to do after work e.g. singing in choir.