Crown Prosecution Service
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University: Manchester Metropolitan University
Year of qualification: 2015
Position: Crown advocate
Department: Crown Prosecution Service, London North – Crown Court
What attracted you to a career in law?
I did work experience with a local law firm when I was 15 and some of that was spent with counsel at the Crown Court. I remember thinking that it looked like such an exciting and interesting job – and it is!
Why solicitor not barrister?
I wanted to become a barrister rather than solicitor because I was most driven by the prospect of a career as an advocate – I wanted to be on my feet in court as much as possible.
How did you decide where to apply to?
The application process for pupillage can be disheartening but before too long I realised it was important to take a considered approach to thinking about what I wanted from my career on a long-term basis and where best that could be achieved. Having gone through the pupillage application process a number of times, I was lucky enough to be successful on my first application to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?
I had worked hard to seek job opportunities that would strengthen my pupillage applications. Although mini-pupillages and work experience are important, everyone has done them. Once I had completed a few I looked for voluntary roles or employment opportunities which would allow me to develop the skills I would need as a barrister.
What do you think made your application successful?
My experience – both in terms of the application process and my CV. I did a lot of research into what the interview at the CPS would require and how it would be structured. I understood properly why I wanted to join the CPS rather than anywhere else and what I could offer the organisation. I don’t think I had prepared like that before for any other interview.
Which departments did you train in?
My pupillage was in the special casework unit, dealing with serious and organised crime, particularly drugs importation and distribution and money laundering. I also had the opportunity to spend four weeks on secondment at a set of criminal chambers.
How does the qualification process work at the CPS?
Pupillages and training contracts are overseen by the training principal but your pupil supervisor is responsible for your pupillage on a day-to-day basis and they will, if you complete the requirements to an adequate standard, endorse that you have satisfactorily completed your pupillage. Pupillage at the CPS includes a wealth of mandatory and non-mandatory training and there are opportunities to undertake secondments to other departments.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
That nobody expects you to know it all. I remember frantically trying to get up to speed in my first few weeks before realising that the process is about learning, not having the answers already.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
I am a crown advocate which means that I appear in the Crown Court every day. A typical day is likely to include plea and trial preparation hearings and/or sentences and occasionally appeals or newton hearings as well as trials.
What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?
I enjoy being challenged, learning something new every day and doing a job that I am proud of. It is an incredibly rewarding job.
What makes the CPS stand out?
The CPS offers such a wide range of work and opportunities. If you join the CPS and apply yourself to the job your career can take a variety of different paths.
What skills/strengths do you need to be a successful solicitor?
To be a successful barrister you need resilience, patience and diligence. It involves hard work, long days and having to think on your feet at all times.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
Go for it! I love my job and honestly cannot imagine having a different career.
What is the work-life balance like at the CPS? How often do you have late nights/work at weekends?
It very much depends on the role that you have. For example, for the majority of my CPS career I have been in an advocacy role and based in court. For obvious reasons, that involves having to work in the evenings and at the weekends, but this is manageable.
Describe working at the CPS in three words.
Challenging, rewarding and motivating.
What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the CPS?
My pupillage – finally getting the chance to qualify! Since then, every day is an opportunity to do something different and every promotion has been an opportunity to test myself with new challenges.
What’s your desert island disc?
‘Somebody Else’s Guy’ by Jocelyn Brown – whenever it is played it makes everyone want to dance.