Hannah Ilett is a tenant at Maitland Chambers. She studied law with law studies in Europe at the University of Oxford, Jesus College.
Having participated in a couple of mock trial competitions at school, I began thinking that a career in law might be interesting. During my time at Oxford, I spent a year in France at Université Pantheon-Assas. Choosing to study a subject that I hadn't done before was a bit of a gamble, but for me it paid off - I really enjoyed my degree. It was during university that I really confirmed that I would like to go to the Bar. During my second year I did a few mini-pupillages, a vacation scheme and some mooting. I was attracted to the advocacy and greater legal analysis and research that the Bar offered.
While I knew that I wanted to head for the Bar by the end of second year, deciding what area of law to practice in took a little longer, and I didn't decide until my final year. I did various mini-pupillages to see how the academic subjects I studied at university translated into practice, and also went to a careers fair to get advice from those there.
Maitland Chambers, a leading commercial chancery set, has its own application process, the deadline for which is earlier in the year than for sets in the Pupillage Gateway, and holds both a first- and second-round interview. The application process for each chambers is slightly different, and some require you to have done a mini-pupillage with them beforehand. I think the best advice I could give would be to research the chambers you are applying to thoroughly, and make sure that you tailor your application form, and interview preparation, accordingly.
I really enjoyed pupillage which was, however, a very steep learning curve. At Maitland, pupils rotate around four different pupil supervisors, which gave me a chance to see four different areas of practice and four different styles of working. Feedback, both from my pupil supervisors and following advocacy exercises, meant that I knew what I needed to work on to improve, and while it was obviously stressful at times, I found that everyone at Maitland was friendly and supportive of the pupils.
I am now the junior tenant at Maitland, and doing a wide range of work across the commercial chancery spectrum. I had the opportunity early on to help out in a case in the Privy Council which was a great experience, and I'm also in court a fair bit on my own. I have found that sometimes I am in court several times a week, and sometimes not at all - it probably averages out at about once a week - but I enjoy the mix of court work and paperwork. Paperwork involves writing advices, research notes (for instance when assisting in larger cases), pleadings and skeleton arguments. Court work is a mix of county court work and hearings before Registrars in the High Court, and ranges from hearings where there is just you and the judge to the winding up court, where there are lots of people all in court at the same time.
I very much enjoy the variation, both in the type of work and the subject matter, and I like being able to work on my own and decide when I work - there is a greater degree of flexibility, but one does have to be very self-motivated. And for those times when I need a bit of help or advice, Maitland's open-door policy means that I can always find someone to talk things through.