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Starting pupillage: ‘So much to learn but hopefully a chance to teach a little too’

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Two years after being called to the Bar, OccupyTheInns prepares to become a fully-fledged barrister

As the northern European autumn begins her windy and rainy procession towards winter, it is with mixed feelings that I have returned to Britain to commence pupillage.

An enforced year off between the completion of my studies and the start of my professional career as a barrister turned out to be so much more than a “a gap year”. My experiences in some of the world’s most challenging locations will stay with me and, I hope, be made useful to others by my sharing of them. I shall miss my time “on the road”.

Pupillage, however, is the holy grail for which I have been waiting for what seems like an age. Shortly it is to begin and I intend to make the absolute most of what I am keenly aware will be an extremely testing year. Physically, I am in good shape, having spent the last month doing three sessions a week in the gym. Mentally too I am ready, increasingly sure of myself in new surroundings where I have secured a comfortable apartment for an affordable price.

Moving to a new location is never easy, which is why I am grateful for the experience I gained while travelling of quickly orienting oneself in an unfamiliar city or town. One of the most important lessons I learnt during that time was the value of simply striking up a conversation with a stranger. And so, as I met some wonderful people abroad who I am now proud to call friends, I have already begun to develop friendships here with punters in my new local pub who certainly seem rather entertained to have a barrister in their midst.

There have been lonely moments, also, I am not ashamed to admit, and there shall be more I am sure. Sadly, the combined stresses of a year’s travelling and my acceptance of a pupillage at a leading set outside of London (although with many links to London and, with its combination of quality work and a more balanced lifestyle, offering the best of both worlds) has brought about the end of my relationship. Furnishing a new flat alone is not the same as furnishing one with someone you love. However, life moves on, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish my former fiancée all the very best.

What has cheered me is the unexpectedly wonderful nature of the place I find myself in. I am delighted to say that it bears little resemblance to the unjust picture I painted of the regions when I was searching for pupillage — a time of great emotional stress which feels distant now.

For reasons of common sense I cannot provide the name of the city. What I will say is that from what I have seen so far it is vibrant, brimming with fantastic cultural attractions and boasting some of the UK’s best — and I would actually venture to say the world’s best — countryside on its doorstep. It has been made clear that the possibility will in all likelihood be there for me to take a tenancy in London if I so wish, but from what I have seen so far I think I may be very happy here.

Such questions can of course wait for later. For now I am eager to throw myself into the rough and tumble of life as a barrister. Before me awaits so much to learn — and I will endeavour to do so humbly — but also, by drawing upon my international experiences, hopefully there will be a chance for me to teach my new colleagues a little too.

OccupyTheInns was called to the Bar in 2011. He commences pupillage this month. There’s more from OccupyTheInns here.