By Antonia Welsh
I am one of this year’s devils at the Faculty of Advocates and will qualify on the 29 May 2020. I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned and encourage some of you to consider a career at the Bar.
I think it might be helpful to start at the beginning of my legal career: however short that may be. I completed the post graduate degree in law and during this part of my education I managed to secure a position in the University law clinic. I was truly inspired by the then clinic Director. He was an entertaining guy who really believed in access to justice. The law clinic offered me the opportunity to help people, to work with real clients, in real legal disputes and in real live hearings. For a law student the experience couldn’t have been better. It was the nerves and adrenaline of appearing in the Employment Tribunal that brought it home to me that I really wanted to be a litigator.
That drive to see more litigation and build that experience is central to the next step closer. As part of the Diploma at Strathclyde University there was an option to take part in a work-based learning module. I wanted a different experience from what was traditionally offered. I wanted to learn more about life at the Bar. So, I proposed to the university that instead of attending a firm, I would shadow counsel. I then made arrangements to shadow Amber Galbraith, Advocate. As a result of my experience I proposed to the Dean of Faculty and the University that a “mini-devilling” programme be set up. This proposal was accepted, and the programme commenced in 2019 with 10 advocates signing up to offer to be “mini-devil masters/mistresses” to Strathclyde Diploma students. I understand that the programme has now been opened up to Edinburgh University, and that there are now more spaces available to students looking to take part in this project.
From there, I knew I wanted to be an advocate, but I still had a traineeship to think about. That’s when someone gave me the suggestion that I didn’t have to do a full traineeship, I could fast track this and do a Bar Traineeship instead. That’s what I did. I ended up working at two very different firms as a Bar Trainee for a year. I don’t think it is an option that would suit everyone. It’s very much shut your eyes and jump! Have a little bit of faith in yourself and hope it’s not a bad choice for you. If you’re brave enough to take this step, then I am more than happy to share with you that I have never regretted not taking part in a traditional traineeship.
The best bit by far is starting at the Bar. They say that it is the best training in the world and that is not just hot air. It is absolutely accurate! We are given, at no charge to ourselves, access to this training. The leading practitioners in their fields show an overwhelming desire to support and help you with your career.
At this point I thought it may be helpful to answer some of the questions that I have been asked:
by Amina Amin
Hello there, I’m Amina – a trainee solicitor at Jones Whyte Law and a Non-Executive Committee Member of SYLA.
First of all, Ramadan Kareem to all the Muslim Members. I hope your fasts are going well during this tough time. It will definitely be a Ramadan to remember!
As many of you are, I am also working from home. Whilst this has many challenges in itself, I am facing another challenge, which is working from home during Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy ninth month of the Muslim year, whereby Muslims do not eat or drink between the rising and setting of the sun. Yes, you heard it, no food or drink for at least 18 hours!
Now you are probably wondering... Amina how are you managing? Well over the past two weeks of fasting I have observed some tips and tricks that may help you get through this challenging (but utterly rewarding) month!
My top 5 tips are:
1. Do not skip your pre-dawn meal (suhoor). I know…the thought of waking up before sunrise to eat does not sound appealing but this step is vital in order to stay focused during the working day. I have found that I am much more productive when I have had my pre-dawn meal. This is the time to hydrate and refuel before another day of fasting and working so it is not to be missed!
2. Plan your day. Make a list of tasks you would like to achieve both for work and outside of work. This is a great way to prioritize and manage your fasting day effectively.
3. Go for a walk. Although we are all tired and hungry, I have found that a 15-minute walk outside does wonders to my mood.
4. Sleep, sleep, sleep! Having a power nap after finishing work will allow you to catch up on the hours you missed whilst waking up for your pre-dawn meal. Remember, a tired mind can’t do much!
5. Enjoy it. Although this Ramadan will be like no other, we should take this moment to self-reflect. Let’s all be grateful for everything we have and remind ourselves that we can get through this difficult time!