THE (NOT SO) LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 16: SHAYLLA SHABBIR: THE PUPIL’S VIEW

This is the time of year when pupil barristers are starting to be let lose to hone their skills in courts and tribunals up and down the country.  At the moment they are stuck at home.  I asked pupil barrister  at Kings Chambers Shaylla Shabbir to become the club’s latest (and probably youngest) recruit and to let us know how this is affecting her.

Where are you working from now?

I have a designated office to work from, but after a few weeks of lockdown a change of scenery was needed. So, I tend to spend my days either sat in the office or venturing down to work in another room.

What has been most difficult about working remotely.

Everything has remained pretty much the same, just hearings/meetings etc that were in person, are now all virtual.

If I had to choose something, then it’s probably the lack of contact with people. Prior to lockdown, I would bump into members of chambers daily, have lunch with colleagues, have a chat with the ladies at reception and just pop my head around the clerk’s room to say hello. If we were in court, I’d see court staff and familiar faces which was always nice. These relationships are what make the job so much more interesting.

What has been your biggest technical challenge?

Cliché as this may sound, I too have struggled going paperless. However, two screens have made the process a lot easier.

Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with you?

By far the library (and Debra our fabulous librarian).

What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned?

I think for pupils this has been eye opening. But I am not going to bore you with everything single detail.

For one, the importance of being disciplined. When you’re working from home it can be tricky splitting up your day. At the start I found myself working through lunch and till very late in the evening. In chambers my supervisor was always quick to point out I should grab a bite to eat if he saw me at my desk past lunch break. Now I have strict schedule, where I take the time to have something for lunch or now that it’s Ramadan I still take a quick break which does wonders for your concentration.

And secondly, ‘just a call away’ means just that. I’ve got great support network of colleagues, family and friends so even though we don’t have the ability to see one another physically, they are literally one call away, cue Charlie Puth.

Thirdly, a lesson into what a career at the bar will be like in the future. We already see many barristers work from home. This phase as meant we have been able to experience a version (perhaps a slightly extreme version) of what life at the self-employed bar will bring.

Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future?

Absolutely. I think the whole profession is going to change. The fact that I have had to go paperless during pupillage has meant it will change my approach to my practice.

I also have learnt a time management lesson in that – if you can work from home from time to time, then the time you save not travelling in and out of chambers (and avoiding the rush hour traffic) can be spent elsewhere. Much needed especially on the days you are buried under a pile of work.

What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?

Seeing my family (and having my mum cook up something nice for me), and of course taking a stroll up the peaks.