a day in the life…

ok so you want to know the glamorous reality? here it is. let this be a warning to any fool thinking of joining this profession…

get up 6am, sometimes earlier. commute to court – 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Usually walk, train, tube, train, walk all with five ton suitcase and up and down multiple stairs. Into central London and back out to whichever court I’m at today (I don’t live in central London because I can’t afford it, even on my fat cat legal aid lawyer salary).

Meet client half hour before the hearing. If lucky will find a private interview room which smells of sweat and which contains chairs with suspicious yellow rings on the upholstery. If unlucky will have to try and conduct sensitive conversation with client in public waiting room leaning up against a wall.

Try to sort things out with the other side (lawyer or litigant in person, depending). Go and see the Judge and say my piece. If legal aid, remember to ask Judge to sign your form before leaving court so you can get paid, if necessary justify why you should get paid a particular amount. If you forget to get it signed or to get a court stamp on it you forfeit anything from £30 to £200.

Then debrief client outside court, explaining what has just happened. Usually have to write up the court order before leaving court and wait for copies. If at court all day probably won’t get time for lunch. Maybe a choccy bar if lucky.

At some stage whilst at court I will probably get shouted at either by the Judge or my client or the other side (most recently a charming fellow called me a ‘fucking shark’).

May be at court 10 mins or (more likely) all morning, sometimes all day depending on whether I’ve got a trial or a directions hearing and depending on how backed up the court list is. Sometimes wait all day at court (rarely get paid extra for this) before getting on to see the Judge. 

Travel back to chambers probably 1-2 hours journey. Often grab a late lunch on the way back, usually something made of rubber. On train make phonecall to office to check what I’m doing tomorrow, find out what papers have come in, pick up messages etc. Check email on train and respond. Work on train (can only do this if its quiet enough to be private).

Back in chambers anytime between 11am-7pm depending on the above. Ring solicitor to tell them outcome of today’s hearing. Type up a note of the hearing and fax a copy to the solicitor with the court order.

Check papers for tomorrow. Read papers and prepare for future hearings / do written paperwork / advice to client. If necessary speak to solicitor about tomorrow to chase missing papers or ask them why something hasn’t been done.

Sometimes waiting till 6pm or later for papers for next day to arrive by bike. Work as late as necessary to get them read and prepared.

Unpack and repack suitcase with necessary papers and work for tonight, and for court tomorrow.

Leave chambers 6pm – 8pm. Travel home 1 1/2 – 2 hours depending on trains. Again – tube train walk.

Get home 7.30 – 9.00pm. If lucky hubby has made tea, if not will probably skip it. Do a bit of work or on a bad day do a lot of work. Sometimes too tired to work but need to be ready for a hearing tomorrow so go to bed early and get up at 4am to look at the papers again before showering.

Iron shirt, polish shoes, eat breakfast – no wait. I never do that because life’s too short.

And then repeat.

Oh, and am often working at weekends.

Oh, and if I don’t go to court I don’t get paid. Unless I’m on my deathbed I still have to go. If I’m not in court I don’t get paid. No annual leave, no sick leave, no maternity pay. No boss to complain to if I’m too busy / not busy enough. Pay my own expenses.

On the plus side, I manage my own time (subject to the whims of solicitors instructing me) and sometimes get to slope off early to walk the dog of an afternoon. And there’s always a starbucks and a top shop on the walk back from court. And all my friends think I live a glamorous life.

One thought on “a day in the life…

  1. Strangely enough, considering my general view of lawyers, I can sympathise with this. I’ve trawled around the London public transport system often enough with my own solicitors to recognise the truth expressed here, and was only foolish enough to offer to carry the BAG once, which seemed to contain enough to set up a small bookshop. I suggested transferring all that paper to a laptop, but apparently that isn’t possible – perhaps no lawyer has had the courage to set a precedent. I work in theatre, which people also imagine, erroneously, to be glamorous. Not when you finish work at 4am on a Saturday evening and have to start again at 9 on Sunday morning it isn’t. And we have to put up with amateurs who crazily imagine they have missed their vocation and expect the public to part with money to witness a style of acting which disappeared with Henry Irving. Professional actors are nearly as bad, though, pathologically homesick, and entirely unable to clean their own teeth without a script.

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