Survival Tips For Baby Barristers At The Publicly Funded Bar

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By Legal Cheek on

Last week, David Cameron’s former chief-of-staff, Alex Deane, explained to Legal Cheek why he tired of the genteel poverty of the criminal Bar – and eventually quit. Will things work out differently for this week’s guest, 2 Dr Johnson’s Buildings pupil barrister Stephanie Wookey (pictured), who joins Bircham Dyson Bell solicitor Kevin Poulter (pictured) and Legal Cheek editor Alex Aldridge on this week’s #RoundMyKitchenTable podcast?

As she comes to the end of her pupillage this month, Cardiff University graduate Wookey is preparing for a return to being a student – via a masters at Queen’s College, Cambridge, which she’ll begin in October. In an unconventional move, Wookey will continue as a “door pupil” at 2 Dr Johnson’s Buildings, picking up bits and pieces of work to help fund her masters, then hopefully return to a tenancy.

The pragmatic Wookey has spent the last six months doing a combination of criminal, family and private employment work in a bid to develop a mixed practice that’ll sustain her in the years to come. Poulter, who specialises in employment law, is impressed – suggesting that the more competitive rates offered by diversifying rookie barristers could tempt instructing firms (although he’s less impressed by Rookie’s decision to do a masters, which he regards as a costly frivolity).

However, this broad-based approach has a downside, concedes Wookey, who has found herself forced to put in many hours of unpaid preparation time as she bids to get her head round new areas of law. Still, having pulled in around £20,000 this year, and netted a CV-boosting place at Cambridge in the process, she’s feeling pretty upbeat about the future.

The podcast is also available on iTunes.