Recently, I shadowed a Barrister for a few sessions and found it a fantastic insight into litigation, the Bar, and the difference in the life of a Barrister compared to a Lawyer.
I found it such an enjoyable experience, but had to narrow it down to only a few points!
You will get an insight into the life of a Barrister
Maybe because I was just an onlooker, but I got the vibe that life as a Barrister is pretty great! They are their own boss, don’t have to come in or leave by a certain time, their lifestyle is more flexible (it would appear) than a Lawyer’s, and they are all very collegiate and friendly with each other.
And yes, we all know that Barristers can struggle at first, but from what I saw, they were doing pretty well for themselves and had a great work-life balance, despite coming from a wide range of practice areas and PQE, so I would say that if you can afford to have a somewhat irregular income, then go for it!
You will get to tag along to legal proceedings
I only shadowed one Barrister, but I got roped into meeting and tagging along with others. And this enabled me to race across the city and sit in on a VCAT proceeding! It was a Planning Law matter, which might seem boring to some, but for me it was great. I loved seeing the law playing out right in front of me, in a much more relaxed setting than court. I’m sure had I stayed longer, I could have got the chance to sit in on court proceedings as well. Unfortunately this time I didn’t, because my Barrister didn’t have any trials on in the time I was there, but you’d be surprised at how many other Barristers are willing to help out in giving you some experience. They may even shout you lunch! (shout out to The Essoign Club!)
You will get a feel for the types of processes that go into litigation
So. Much. Paperwork. I think my Barrister was drowning in white paper! Still, it’s all pretty necessary. I may just be a law nerd, but I actually quite enjoyed sifting through 100s of papers to get a feel for the matter at hand, the issues, the evidence, and the role the solicitors had to play before they briefed it out. It’s really interesting to see what you’ve learnt at university played out and handled in real-life.
Hopefully this has given you enough incentive to reach out to some Barristers and ask them if you can tag along for awhile. If you are interested, the Victorian Bar currently runs a Barrister Shadowing program, and also some universities run an identical program through their Law Students Society.
The [Pre]Lawyer in Black
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