A day in the life of a Family trainee

We asked trainee solicitor Sorcha McGillycuddy to give us a flavour of what a day in the life of a Family trainee looked like.

“To use the old adage: no two days are the same!

Within my first month I had been to court three times (with the client I hasten to add!), drafted various orders, spoken with clients and dealt with tricky solicitors representing the other side.

Going to court has been one of the most interesting experiences I have had in the family department and therefore I thought I would share some of my experiences and provide a few hints and tips.

A day in Court

You are ultimately there to support your client and to take notes. It is important to remember that the client will probably not have been to court often, if ever, and is likely to be nervous. They may not have met the Barrister representing them and therefore you will be the familiar in unfamiliar surroundings.

Whilst going to court may be exciting for you, you need to be sensitive to the fact that what is decided there will impact your client. One of the occasions I attended court was for a Child Arrangements Order. We were representing a father who wanted to have more access to his children and this was a difficult time for him.

On another occasion I went to court for a non-molestation hearing. We were representing a lady who was being intimidated by her husband and wanted the court to order that he stay away from her and not be allowed to harass, intimidate or threaten her in any way.

The hearing was due to start at 10:30am so I was there for 9:00am. I met with the barrister and then remained at the entrance to meet our client. This was as a precaution as we did not want her to end up alone with her husband and therefore vulnerable to his threats. Thankfully she arrived before him and we were able to find a conference room to wait in prior to being called in to court.

Often you and the barrister will meet with the client about an hour before the hearing. This is to enable the barrister to run through the process with the client as well as check their instructions and the outcome the client is seeking. It is important to take detailed notes of what is said and agreed, not only so your supervisor is informed, but also to refer back to.

Personally, my favourite part is being called to court. Listening to the barrister’s submissions can be fascinating and shows you the level of skill it takes to do advocacy. In this particular case, we had a no nonsense judge who took a very sensible approach to the matter. You are not always going to be so lucky!

My Top Tips

  • Bring a snack – you may be waiting around for a while
  • Turn your phone off – not on silent, not on airplane mode – off!
  • If you are not sure, ask – don’t be afraid of looking silly
  • The ushers hear everything and will report back to the judge so don’t say anything you don’t want the judge to hear

Obviously you won’t be in court every day but when you are, remember to enjoy it. It is always nice to get out of the office and do something a bit different. It is an opportunity to meet and get to know clients, as well as observe barristers battling it out.

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