This may be a significant challenge to pupillages which would normally be predominantly court-based. It requires some flexibility and fore planning to overcome, and it is unlikely that the amount of court advocacy can be replicated. The following is suggested to help ensure that at least the minimum requirement in terms of training and outcome is met - the Supervisor will have to make that assessment at the end of pupillage in line with the competences in the Professional Statement. It may be that an extension to the pupillage is required - for more information on how to proceed in that case, please refer to the Covid-19 FAQs
Permitting pupils to conduct interlocutory hearings remotely, particularly those of their supervisor, where appropriate. It may be that for some of those hearings the supervisor can attend, with appropriate permission, to “observe”. It is worth reminding pupils that a consequence of remote hearings is that they can sometimes feel less formal and structured than in the ordinary course of events and could lead to the development of bad practices which needs to be avoided. It will pay for them to consider (and maybe even for us) to read the Inns of Court College of Advocacy (ICCA) "Principles for Remote Advocacy
- Attendance at remote hearings being conducted by others (especially pupils supervisors). This is subject to the available technology but should be straightforward to arrange and remember to allow them access to the case or the papers as would ordinarily be the case. You may want to work with others in your AETO or contacts in other sets to determine whether there are opportunities elsewhere to observe.
- The Bar Council is currently reviewing its guidance on pupils attending in-person hearings.
- Consider the use of advocacy exercises. The important feature is getting them used to speaking in Court. As far as possible, you should try to replicate the realities of being in Court. Try to maintain the formalities and procedures of being in Court. Such hearings are relatively easy to organise, though please do bear in mind the Bar Council's guidance on different platforms. Wherever possible the Supervisor should play the role of one of the participants or be an observer so that they can assess and provide appropriate feedback.
- ICCA have made available a number of advocacy exercises which can downloaded here. One of those involves witness handling. You may want to familiarise yourself with the remote format first, as this will require a little more planning to work effectively. Such exercises should take place as frequently as necessary to fulfil the requirements of the pupillage. It will be for the Supervisor to determine what is appropriate.
- Pupils should also take steps themselves to keep their skills honed, and that includes reading advocacy books and accessing advocacy training videos themselves. It is important that you make them part of the process of accessing and locating suitable material. They do have some responsibility, and will do more so going forward as they progress into practice for their own professional development.
This time can sensibly be used to develop other areas, in particular written work and conference skills. It may also provide greater opportunities (at least in terms of available time and with the use of technology) to oversee, supervise and engage with the work of your pupil. Many of these practices will continue even after the restrictions have been lifted. Wherever possible pupils should still be encouraged to actively participate in conferences (e.g. with other members of Chambers). This need may be more acute now as they are less likely to have their own cases to prepare and conduct.
In relation to written work, in some areas the present restrictions mean that cases are front loaded in writing and therefore there is an opportunity for pupils to become familiar with preparing preparatory notes for hearing etc., even for hearings which are not their own, on which pupil supervisors can then give feedback.
Pupils should be encouraged to carry on doing work such as advices, written submissions, court documents and pleadings for their supervisor. Again, pupils should be encouraged to engage in ensuring that they have sufficient work and feel able to discuss this in the “catch up” meetings. Supervisors should be mindful to consider pupils’ workload and should ensure that the right balance is struck as between, volume, quality and variation.