In the last post, I assured you all that I was not merely ‘talk without action’ and have indeed undertaken a legal work experience this summer. So what did this involve?
A couple of weeks ago, I went to my local Crown Court and was able to gain a placement that enabled me to shadow a Judge for three days. The official description of this placement is called marshalling. It is an example of a type of legal work experience that is absolutely imperative and invaluable and I strongly urge any student – particularly those who have an interest in becoming a barrister – to undertake.
The experience was absolutely fantastic, especially the part where I had the opportunity to examine the judges ‘behind closed doors’ in chambers and sit beside them whilst they presided over proceedings in court. Above all, this invaluable experience gave me an insight into how the adversarial system comes to life within the Criminal Justice system. Commencing with the way the defence and prosecution play the quasi-gladiatorial game, leading into the role of the Judge as a neutral and impartial umpire, it truly was fascinating to witness the whole theory in action.
Luck was on my side during these few enthralling days because the Judge that I was shadowing was extremely kind and informative, and engaged in conversation. It is very common for some judges not to be very accommodating however, this is not always the case.
So how do you secure marshalling? Like I mentioned last week, networking is an important and useful asset that you should always be thinking about in the back of your mind. Sometimes people are incredibly lucky to have contacts through family connections, friends and even other work experiences. Ironically enough, three years ago I had undertaken a work experience in the administrative department of my local Crown Court. During that period, my supervisor was able to organize a meeting with a Judge because she knew that I was incredibly interested to study law. As a result, I was offered the unique opportunity at marshalling the Judge.
Moreover, the best part of my work experience was the fact that I was invited to have lunch with all the Judges sitting at that Crown Court. This is not a regular occurrence and rarely happens during marshalling but it was such a lovely way to end the experience. I have to admit that all the judges that I had the privilege to have lunch with were fascinating people as they didn’t ignore me, but asked me questions about what its like studying law and my plans for the future. I will not deny that it was very intimidating and I have never been so on edge to eat a salad in my life! But the nerves were slightly alleviated when I was offered another opportunity to shadow another Judge next summer, which I am absolutely ecstatic about!
I hope that this has helped you gain some sort of an idea about what you can expect to do and learn when marshalling. Nevertheless, for another insight into marshalling and some top tips, have a look at this fantastic article.
Good luck and post below if you have any questions about marshalling!