And just like that, my time at Advocate has come to an end. For 4 days a week during the month of June, I had the privilege of working as a casework volunteer at Advocate.
Many hands make light work
Generally barristers volunteer their time to provide help with Advice, Drafting of documents and Representation at courts and tribunals in England and Wales to persons who cannot afford to pay for legal help. This was a fully remote role with a morning catch up and afternoon debrief. Other than these two calls, most of the day was spent working independently under the supervision of my Caseworker/Supervisor (CW).
The duties of the volunteer role included-
– triaging of cases to determine whether they should be processed further;
– drafting case summaries using the case papers provided by individuals who need legal assistance; and
– preparing court-standard bundles and
logging cases into systems.
The culture at Advocate encourages independent working but my CW was a message or call away throughout the day. There is an emphasis on working as a team, taking initiative while allowing volunteers the space to make mistakes.
As many of the volunteers go on to practice at the bar, understandably the culture which is fostered there is important. As a new mom trying to volunteer to such an important cause and build my legal portfolio at the same time, the support from the team especially my CW was truly amazing. Whether it was the flexibility in changing my hours, being able to step away from my desk at home to breastfeed or change a nappy or the day I could not volunteer because there had been no sleep the previous night for myself or baby. This will remain an experience that has marked me and will inform my principles and approach as an employee and as an employer. You can find more information on Align, my business which helps aspiring barristers build competitive pupillage applications here – Align.
It’s no wonder that many previous volunteers go on to secure Pupillage because my cohort (June 2021 Summer volunteers!💖) agree that the hands-on learning in so many different areas of the law has been telling and informed the areas of law we intend to practice (and those we definitely don’t want to practice in).
This work is highly rewarding because you get to assist so many people who would otherwise be unable to get legal assistance for their cases. You can find the roles and opportunities to volunteer and work with them below-
Share with us, what has been your most enjoyable legal work experience and if you have worked with Advocate, what did you like best?