Meet our pupils
Meet our Pupils
For an insight into pupillage at 5RB, we asked Ed Smith and Aled Jones, our current pupils, a few questions:
Where did you go to university and what did you study?
I came to the law a bit later than most. I studied History & Art History at the University of Nottingham and then a War Studies MA at Kings College London. I completed my GDL and BPTC at BPP.
I studied law at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. For my final year I studied options in media law and human rights law. After completing my undergraduate degree I took the BPTC at City Law School.
Why did you choose 5RB?
5RB has a reputation for being the pre-eminent set of chambers in media law. I was fortunate to see this first hand on the mini-pupillage programme. The subject area has fascinated me since the GDL, so 5RB was the natural choice.
My major area of legal interest is media and information law. Whilst at university I assisted student journalists in dealing with media law issues and studied media law as part of my degree. Post-university, I helped a number of start-ups in complying with data protection law.
Given 5RB’s reputation in these fields, it was definitely a ‘must-apply’ chambers for me. The recruitment process at 5RB provided me with an opportunity to learn more about 5RB and meet some of the current members, and this further contributed towards my choice of chambers.
What’s the best thing about pupillage?
Media law combines grand conceptual ideas with fascinating factual circumstances. Learning the skills needed to couple these elements into practical outcomes for a client is a wonderfully absorbing experience.
Definitely the opportunity to learn and develop. The level of support and attention I’ve received throughout my pupillage has been excellent. I’ve been able to work on a wide variety of cases, and see cases at every stage of case progression. To be able to look at cases more thoroughly, and spend time working on them at a granular level, is both an interesting and enjoyable experience. I’ve also been provided with the opportunity to spend time improving my own written work, which has worked well alongside being able to spend time in court watching the advocacy skills of 5RB members.
What’s the worst?
Nothing, honestly! Pupillage is inherently transitory and that plays on your mind a little bit. However, the chambers are so welcoming and friendly that even those pressures are alleviated.
One of the things that I’ve had to adapt to has been the move from study, where legal problems often have clear answers, to that of practical litigation, in which often the issues are instead finely balanced, and there is no clear right answer. Dealing with situations where there is this degree of uncertainty is enjoyable, but also presents challenges, in which my approach to dealing with legal problems has had to change.
Was pupillage what you were expecting?
Pupillage will always be a bit of a step into the unknown. I was aware that experiences vary greatly between chambers, so I sounded out a few barristers before I joined. I am delighted that 5RB exceeded my expectations. I have been involved in trial preparation and advocacy right from the start, and worked on some fascinating and varied cases.
Having spoken to others I knew who had undertaken pupillage, I was aware that the experience of pupillage itself can be extremely variable, depending on the chambers one is at. Given this, I didn’t really have a defined view of what pupillage would be like before I started at 5RB. Despite this, the areas of work covered have been broadly similar to expectations, though one benefit I was not expecting was the amount of time I have been able to spend in court, gaining experience of trials, hearings and applications.
What advice would you give to potential applicants?
Applications can often be too generic. Demonstrate a genuine interest in media law and it will shine out of the page. This can be evidenced in many different ways so think laterally. Apart from that be yourself.
Firstly, be able to evidence your interest in media law. Media and information law is a relatively specialised area of practice, and so an understanding of the media landscape, and any relevant experience is extremely helpful. Secondly, be aware of current issues in media law. Media law often attracts a lot of commentary and press interest, so there are a good number of blogs, newsletters and articles in which recent media law developments are discussed. Reading these regularly, and developing a knowledge of current ‘hot topics’ in media and information law is useful.