Unquestionably, when all of us look back on 2020, we will have our own memories of this most extraordinary year, but as we move closer to 2021, we review some of the highlights for chambers that often go unreported in what has been a year of adaption to the way we work with clients and also changing government guidelines.
We have continued with a strong programme of training and professional development with a host of remote seminars, seeing us hitting the ground running including specific training on changes in legal practices due to the coronavirus.
Outside our own seminars, our Head of Chambers, Richard Atkins QC, with Lord Justice Irwin and Lady Justice Rose, spoke at a remote conference on how to conduct remote advocacy in the Court of Appeal.
We have also used remote conferencing to maintain our contribution to developing future advocates. For example, Richard has throughout the lockdown been there remotely tutoring students for the ICCA Advocacy programme and contributing to many events for Gray’s Inn. Also, Commercial Barrister, Iqbal Mohammed, is judging the ELSA UK Commercial Law Moot Court Competition.
As a fine testament to the resilience of Chambers and the strength of us as a business, we are delighted to announce that we have just this month taken on four new tenants by way of pupillage: Bethany Armitage, Luke Tallis, Raghav Trivedi and Steven Gittens and approved the recruitment of six further pupils in 2021.
We believe this displays our continued confidence in our growth, even in these uncertain times.
Promoting the Bar
Throughout the pandemic, we have been acutely aware that the unusual conditions we have been working in should not inhibit opportunities for students to meet barristers and learn essential information about a life at the Bar. This strong commitment to promoting the self-employed Bar, means we have maintained a busy schedule of events, which, of course, have been online.
Some of the events our members have contributed to include Ali Tabari taking part at an event teaming up with Nottingham Trent University exploring legal careers for undergraduates.
Also, our Iqbal Mohammed spoke at events in November organised by Birmingham City University’s Law School and the University of Warwick’s Hindu Society, each giving much-needed insight into becoming a barrister and life at the Bar.
To add to this, John Aldis joined forces with Worcestershire Law Society in an event organised with Worcester University, focusing on legal careers, joining with participants from three Worcestershire law firms.
Also, Sofia Ashraf, a member of chambers’ Personal Injury and Employment Group joined the Birmingham Law Society’s Raising Aspirations in Law, targeting local students who were interested in becoming lawyers.
Back in October, Natalie Kearney virtually attended Inner Temple’s Introduction Evening for BPTC Students to introduce students to their Circuits to discuss their course, pupillages and the impact of the pandemic. Members of chambers, including Natalie and Sandamini Ethakada, joined the University of Law’s Civil Practitioner Event in the same month, which involved judging summary judgment applications and meeting students.
Similarly, Blondel Thompson, a member of the Criminal and Regulatory team, spoke to sixth formers at Solihull College about her practice in crime and sports law, for those considering their options for university.
Attracting students from non-traditional backgrounds to think about a career at the Bar is something we are passionate about, and Theodora Hand was involved in a remote seminar run by the Midland Circuit titled Step Up to the Bar: An introduction to life as a barrister in the Midlands, which welcomed school and university students.
The focus was sowing the seeds for non-traditional students to potentially lead them on the path towards the Bar.
Finally, Charles Blatchford used Zoom to continue mentoring five students at different stages of education, from A Levels to the BPTC, to ensure that his advice and support remained available through the lockdown.
So, in short, it’s been a busy year, in what has been an extraordinary 9 months.
We also cannot forget to highlight that Members of Chambers are committed to promoting the Bar as widely as possible and any organisation who wishes to involve us in an event they are organising please contact us.
With good news of vaccines being rolled out, we can all look forward to 2021 with renewed hope of a return to normality.