How do you manage multiple competing pressures on your time/deadlines? In your answer you may like to give examples of situations in which you have faced such pressures and to explain how you dealt with them (150 words)
As a county court advocate, I have periods that are less busy than others. Due to the COVID pandemic, I find myself often preparing for cases that are cancelled at short notice. Despite the majority of my hearings now being remote, which saves my time travelling, I still have some face-to-face hearings, and it is these that I find more strenuous due to the security measures on public transport. Towards the end of January and with the approaching deadline for the Pupillage Gateway, everything became more intense. I dealt with this by prioritising my work first and then pupillage application.
By being self-disciplined, I often find time for my scheduled leisure activities like my writing groups and writing. I continue to submit my articles and my novel for publication. I am also reworking my PhD to submit as a monograph.
Tell us what makes you different. (150 words)
I have quite broad interests but at the same time I am very focused and single-minded. I enjoy reading and creative writing. I have attended creative writing courses organised by Arvon, First Page and Moniack Mhor. At Moniack Mhor, I received very helpful guidance from Val McDermid and Louise Welsh. I have attended writing groups. I was selected for the Free Read Scheme which is founded by the Arts Council. My work was assessed by Angela Clarke. I was also shortlisted for the June 2020 David Higham Associates Open Day for Under-Represented Writers. I was selected for a critique by Anna Barrett as an underrepresented writer.
I also enjoy academic writing and I could be very focused in my interests in this area.
Interpersonal skills: Describe a difficult encounter you have had with a hostile or vulnerable person. What was the situation, what did you do to engage with them and what was the outcome? (200 words or less)
When working as a county court advocate on an infant settlement, I had a client who questioned the deductions to damages. I explained that she consented to them in a witness statement and she also signed the document known as the CFA which sets all the conditions of her arrangement with the firm. She said she had not signed this. I said that I had the documents in front of me and referred to them. She said she had other cases like this one with her other children and no deductions were approved. I replied that she chose this to be funded by a ‘no win no fee’ agreement as opposed to any other arrangement and these were in the terms and conditions, namely that if the deductions were not claimed from damages, the firm had a right to claim them from her at a later stage. She repeated that she had been through this type of case with other children and this had not been accepted.
I followed the procedure and called for further instructions. This was adjourned for different reasons.
Analytical skills: Describe an occasion when you have had to analyse complex or technical information and explain it simply. How did you approach the task and ensure the recipient understood your explanation of the information? (200 words or less)
I once provided a presentation on competition law to school children. I began with some ice breakers and tried to ask a few open questions throughout to monitor their understanding. In order to make the topic more understandable to this lay audience, I limited the issues to the bare minimum, used simple language, cut out the legalese and used relatable examples. For instance, I referred to competition between siblings and what it meant to be an older brother as a metaphor for dominance in a market. I also tried to contextualise the topic with some cultural references like the ‘Steve Jobs’ movie which sparked their interest further. In the end, I gave them a short quiz to test what they had learned.
From a legal perspective, what is the most important Human Rights issue to arise from the Covid-19 Pandemic? (250 words)
From a legal perspective, the most important human rights issue to arise from the Covid-19 pandemic is access to justice. The latter is of fundamental importance to the injured party and the rule of law.
The current pandemic is causing difficulties in this area and there is sometimes no possibility of asserting your rights in a timely and just manner. The vast majority of cases are affected, ranging from jury trials to possession hearings. The problem even predated the lockdown when there were situations when trials by jury had to be interrupted by a member of the jury having to self-isolate.
Many problems created by this issue were resolved by remote hearings, but they are not ideal as the technology might fail, and the hearings may not be as engaging as in-person ones. Although in a video hearing there is a possibility of a short adjournment, this has to be done carefully by switching on the video, muting the individuals and pausing the recording. If these safeguards are not adhered to, there is a substantial risk to the integrity of the trial. As this situation is new to many barristers and advocates, training is necessary.
The courts are very slow in pursing possession hearings, currently only mainly conducting section 21 cases. There is a huge backlog of cases and there is a risk that if these are allowed to be conducted in person the parties might bring Covid-19 into the courts.