Second-Six Bulletin

Second-Six Bulletin

Written By: Tom Welshman, 1 High Pavement
Edition: May 2020

Shortly after lunchtime on 23rd March, I received my provisional practising certificate from the Bar Standards Board. I was, at last, eligible to conduct reserved legal activity. This followed a delightful first-six during which I observed advocates in trials, sentencing hearings, and other assorted matters.

However, a mere four hours later the Prime Minister announced that the UK was locking down; and the necessarily reduced caseload meant I would not, in the short-term at least, be conducting my own cases.

Over seven weeks have now passed. Oddly, nearly all Midland Circuit pupils experienced this new way of working before the lockdown began: thanks to the Herculean efforts of Michelle Heeley QC and her colleagues, the advocacy training weekend, traditionally held at Highgate House, was conducted over Skype.

Since the beginning of April, my days have typically been split between observing online hearings, completing written work or ‘Skype advocacy’ exercises for members of Chambers, and working my way through a sizeable stack of unread books. The latter activity commenced, somewhat masochistically, with Albert Camus’s 1947 novel The Plague. This (almost) exclusively indoor combination of activities is, in fact, not an unpleasant one.

I have been greatly moved by the efforts Chambers has made to ensure that my training continues and that I am doing okay generally. The weekly Chambers quiz on Zoom has been a particular highlight of this period; although, following my turn as quizmaster last week, I doubt I will be handed the reins again in the near future.

Among the various kind offerings of assistance to pupils, I look forward to the online training which the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) is delivering. Their efforts, and those of many other gracious practitioners around the country, show that the youngsters within the profession have not been forgotten.

Tom Welshman

Barrister, No. 1 High Pavement Chambers