A Year in the Life of our Pupils

Sorcha Dervin

Pupillage at Farrar’s Building is divided into three, four-month rotations. The first six months of pupillage are non-practising. During my first six I shadowed my supervisors in court (both in person and remotely), at conferences with witnesses and experts, and during joint settlement meetings. On occasion I was also instructed to attend court on a ‘noting brief’, often where the circumstances of a civil claim were such to warrant criminal prosecution. For example, I took a note for my insurer client during a Health and Safety Executive prosecution in the Crown Court, which involved a catastrophic accident at work resulting in an amputation.

With my supervisors I experienced a range of cases, with a focus on chambers’ core practice area of personal injury. I observed joint settlement meetings in six and seven figure claims involving serious, life-limiting injuries. On a week-by-week basis, I completed written work for my supervisor, usually in preparation for an upcoming trial or conference. For example, I regularly prepared skeleton arguments and cross-examination plans which, amongst other things, allowed me to practise legal research and developing a case theory. After any given trial, I would have the opportunity to compare my skeleton argument with my supervisor’s, which improved my written style considerably. It was invaluable learning to see implemented in court some of the preparation and research I had undertaken.

As I approached the practising period of my pupillage, I was given the opportunity to shadow junior members of chambers in court, to gain experience of the types of hearings I would be undertaking in my own right. These included liability disputed trials mostly involving road traffic accidents, and liability admitted personal injury disposal hearings (‘Stage 3 hearings’). It also allowed me to speak with my peers and ask questions about what to expect once on my feet. Chambers ensured that I remained with the same supervisor during the weeks of transition from first to second six, which helped in ensuring the process was as smooth as possible.

During my second six I was in court four to five times a week, which improved my advocacy skills significantly. Days when I was not in court gave me the opportunity to touch base with my supervisor and become involved with research tasks and pieces of work for other members where time permitted. Being on my feet at first was naturally nerve-wracking but I was well prepared for the experience and well supported throughout. During second six I was also encouraged to explore practice areas I was particularly interested in, such as employment law; I had the benefit of conducting a seven-day disability discrimination Tribunal hearing at this early stage in my career.

I found the assessment process to be very transparent. For each supervisor I completed a written assessment, spread out evenly over an eight-month period. These varied from a written advice on liability in a malfunctioning firework case to a large-loss counter schedule in a Fatal Accidents Act claim. Each supervisor gave me a dedicated period of time in which to complete the work and I received detailed, written feedback on each occasion.

The atmosphere in chambers is genuinely friendly and supportive. During pupillage I felt everyone in chambers wanted me to do well. This was illustrated by the willingness of members to answer my questions and discuss work with me. Having completed my pupillage at Farrar’s Building, I am confident that I have been given an excellent foundation upon which to build my career at the Bar.

Sorcha became a tenant at Farrar’s Building in October 2021.

Peter Savory

Peter Savory, discusses a typical day in the life of a Pupil at Farrar’s Building below.

Peter became a tenant at Farrar’s Building on 1st October 2019.