Day in the Life of…Michael Jones

Michael Jones - Deans Court Chambers

Michael Jones, Member of the Young Barristers’ Committee  

Chambers: Deans Court Chambers (Manchester)

Year of Call: 2008

Practice Area: Family law (children- public and private), Court of Protection

My day usually starts about 6.30am depending on where I am in court (if I am travelling further afield it may be earlier), as a general rule I don’t tend to work early mornings (I prefer to do late nights), so I will usually try to go for a run, maybe go to the gym on my way to Court (my single concession to exercise).

Court hearings in family cases tend to start at 10am, with parties at court for 9am, so I am usually at wherever I need to be at 9am to meet my client. Family lawyers will tell you that it is normally a case of meeting the client, going through any bits of evidence they may not have seen, providing advice and taking instructions. The majority of my work involves public law care proceedings, so my client may be a parent or a child, on the other hand it may be a local authority. After discussing matters with the client it is then a case of going to meet the other lawyers and having further discussions.

It is rare that everyone is geared up and ready to go for 10am, so often it may be a little later before we are ready or get called into court. Hearings can last for any amount of time – the phrase, “how long is a piece of string” is probably apt in describing how long the average hearing in a care case lasts. It can range from 30 minutes to well over an hour, or even hours if a matter is contested.

Sometimes I will have one case, sometimes two or three. Today I had one hearing in the morning, got into court at 10.45am, finished around 12.50pm. I was acting for a local authority so I needed to take around an hour after the hearing drafting an order and attendance note.

I managed to get back to chambers by 3pm and collect my papers for the next day (two cases for local authorities, one having about an inch of papers, the other 3 lever arch files full of papers).

So I am home for 4pm, where I begin prep for the next day – I do one case at a time, read the papers, draft a case summary and order – I take a break for about 90 minutes at 6pm to have something to eat (I missed lunch today – hazard of the job, any family barrister must always ensure an appropriate supply of flapjack and sports/energy bars are kept in the glove compartment of any motor vehicle they own). I finished work at about 10.30pm, then check my emails…..I have 17 emails!

Emails range from requests from the client for advice on some issues that cropped up at court today, to requested amendments to today’s order from other parties. I amend today’s order, send an email to the judge, then respond to the other emails in my inbox.

By 11.30pm I am in bed, comatose after a long day.

Some days vary – sometimes I am finished by 12 noon and finish work by 5pm – these days are rare, but it can happen.

Peaks: any time you get the result in a case that you want – there is no more rewarding feeling than getting a result in a finely balanced case. Sometimes even if it is not the result you actually want for a client, you can feel that at the end of the day it was the right result for the child, which gives you some comfort in cases where you don’t succeed.

Pitfalls: the impact of the job on your social and family life (sometimes I actually question whether being a family barrister is Article 8 compliant!).

Chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee responds to the EU Referendum result

Commenting on today’s decision to leave the EU, the Chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee, Louisa Nye said: “I am currently attending the European Young Bar Association’s AGM in Dusseldorf, and this reflects the Young Bar’s commitment to maintaining a good working relationship with the European market. The Young Bar is committed to engaging with other European lawyers regarding the changes that will be taking place. The Young Barristers’ Committee is confident that the quality of advocacy and legal service provision in the jurisdiction will not be undermined by today’s results, and London will remain a leading centre for international dispute resolution.”

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Notes to Editors

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.
  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:
  • The Bar’s high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
  • Fair access to justice for all
  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.

Third Six Pupillage

The Bar Council’s Education and Training Committee and the Young Barristers’ Committee setup a working group to look at third six pupillages and are seeking views on best practice and potential reform.

The issues surround third six pupillages are well-known, and are very well explained in an article written by Rupert Jones, a barrister at Citadel Chambers and member of the YBC. His views, and the 6-week consultation were also featured in Legal Futures.

The Bar Council and the YBC would be very grateful if anyone who has undertaken a third six pupillage, or similar, could fill in the survey which can be found at:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/X3TFTMM

The survey is easy to complete and should not take longer than 5-7 minutes. There is also a survey for Chambers to complete and I would ask that you encourage the relevant member of your Chambers’ pupillage committee or administrator to do so.

All responses are anonymous and it will help us greatly in developing policy and bringing about change in this important area.

Day in the Life of…Onyeka Onyekwelu

Onyeka OnyekweluOnyeka Onyekwelu, Executive of the Young Barristers’ Committee 

Employer: The Bar Council

Year of Call: 2013

Role: Policy Analyst – Legal Affairs, Practice and Ethics & Equality and Diversity, and Corporate Social Responsibility

This particular day starts with me sheltered from the rain, below the alcove of the Quad entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) at 8:15. Prior to my role at the Bar Council, I had only ever been in the RCJ to lodge appeal bundles; unglamorous to say the least. This morning, however, I grace the higher quarters for one of many high level policy meetings that I have been scheduling with the senior judiciary since the Chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee’s (YBC) appointment in January 2016. We sit to discuss impending proposals for the reform of the civil justice system and their effect on young barristers; the assistance the young bar can provide the judiciary; and the retention and progression issues at the Bar and Judiciary. It is my responsibility to debrief the Chairman of the Bar, her Special Advisor and the Director of Policy once I return to the office, so I take great care to accurately note take what is being discussed, and the policy implications.

My 10am meeting at Middle Temple is cancelled, so I walk back to the office to begin my day with everyone else in the Policy Team. I manage to draft and send a few emails to key stakeholders, calling for their assistance with the Young Bar Workshop, the YBC’s flagship event for 2016.

Aside from managing the affairs of the YBC, I am also responsible for the Bar Council’s ADR Panel, so at 11:25, I dart off to a meeting at Field Court Chambers to discuss an exciting new initiative with the Panel’s subgroup. The subgroup discusses how it might change the culture and perception of ADR in Chambers, and how to improve the awareness of ADR as an alternate income stream for Chambers with management staff. The subgroup agree to reconvene and discuss further after the publication of the CEDR Audit 2016, at the Civil Mediation Council Conference.

I have a brief lunch break, and end up running back to the office for a policy team meeting at 14:00. This is a follow-up meeting from our Away Day to discuss the Mission Statement and Action Plan for the Policy Strategy, and its impact on the Bar Council Strategy for 2017. As part of the Legal Affairs, Practice and Ethics team, I inform the team of the projects and initiatives I am currently working on, and how best this can be incorporated into the overall strategy. I unfortunately cannot stay for the duration of the meeting, as I also have a foot in the Equality and Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility team’s work, managing the Bar Mentoring Service and assisting with the Wellbeing at the Bar project. As a result, I hot-foot to the ‘First 100 Years’ knowledge share event at 15:00, to learn more about the BSB’s work to improve the retention rate of women at the Bar. I like that most of the work I do overlaps, and I find myself tweeting from the @YoungBarristers account about the event, and the project. I contribute to the discussion by querying what impact the project and the BSB’s consultation will have on access, retention and progression of women at the Bar, and am left slightly perplexed by the answer I receive (!) before returning to my desk.

I don’t sit down for more than 5 minutes at my desk before I have to shut down my desktop and run to BPP at 16:45, to setup for the Lord Justice Briggs Open Forum in collaboration with the Bar Council. This was an excellent initiative, open to all members of the Bar, to gather the views, concerns and questions about Lord Justice Briggs’ Interim Report on Civil Justice Reform that have not already been addressed by the Bar Council in its response, or the Chairman of the Young Barristers’ Committee in her paper at the World Bar Conference. I create and display the #BriggsOpenForum to enable Bar Council to track the responses via Twitter, and allow for members of the Bar unable to attend, to participate via social media.

My day concludes at about 20:00, when I catch a train back to town, before catching a late (and irregular) bus and wind up back home around 21:30.

Peaks: My role is flexible as it mirrors the nature of the profession i.e. no two days are the same (as cliché and over-used as that line is, it is true). Since starting at the Bar Council in January, I have had the opportunity to assist with the 25th Anniversary of the Bar Mock Trials and dine with leading Judges and QC’s on the top floor of the Old Bailey, something that would not have been possible for at least another 30+ years in practice. Not to mention sitting across a table from Lord Dyson in a private meeting –  definitely my dinner party tale of late with my law school peers.

Pitfalls: The saying that you have as much time as Beyonce does in a day is underrated! Between managing projects, drafting letters and guides for E&D initiatives, and attending important meetings, my day seems to fly by in a flash. As a result, I am joined at the hip to time-management tools and hacks like a baby to an umbilical cord.