Bibek Mukherjee, Essex Court Chambers

Name: Bibek Mukherjee

Chambers: Essex Court Chambers

Position: Pupil Barrister

Degree: Economics

University: Cambridge

Studied BPTC at: University of Law

Hobbies: Photography, Running, Cooking, Travel

How many rounds of applications did it take to get pupillage? 1

Number of interviews attended: 11

Why did you decide to train as a barrister?

I did lots of debating at school and university and caught the bug from there. I wanted a career that was intellectually interesting and stimulating and I enjoyed the analytical side to being a barrister.

What was the toughest pupillage interview question you were asked (at any chambers) and how did you answer?

This was certainly the one I least expected – at the end of the interview, a member of the panel said ‘we always have people who wish they’d got something across during the interview but didn’t have a chance to etc., so is there anything we don’t already know or haven’t discussed that you wanted to tell us?’

I ended up talking about a curriculum I’d been designing to teach English as a foreign language to primary school children. It was surprisingly hard to think of something on the spot.

Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment…

Bibek MukherjeeI’m currently working on the pleadings in a large Russian banking fraud case – there’s various points on Russian law that work very differently from one’s English law intuitions. Civil Fraud is an interesting area in general – it’s often quite fast paced and difficult to work out and prove precisely what happened.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?

Two main things – first, in many ways it feels like being at university: you get a real chance to think through issues deeply and there’s a certain enjoyment and satisfaction from finding answers which might work.

Secondly, you have a lot of freedom to set your own schedule so it never feels like you’re wasting time just being in the office for the sake of it.

What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to get to grips with?

Managing your time effectively. The other side of having more freedom than most office jobs!

What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?

How varied it can be – even at a commercial set, I’ve been exposed to lots of different areas of law and often the the work I did for one supervisor had no overlap with the others I sat with.

Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?

It’s from our Operations Manager and it’s about cake:

“If anyone is around and wants cake there is plenty in the main kitchen, please help yourself.”

What’s your best ‘in court’ anecdote so far?

That time when my supervisor’s client appeared to threaten the other side’s counsel cross-examining him. The judgment doesn’t make for pretty reading.

Which member of chambers (barrister or otherwise) would you want to be on the run with in the event of a zombie apocalypse, and why?

Ben Perry (my clerk). Between him doing an Ironman and having a shotgun licence, I’d feel like I was in pretty safe hands.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).

  • More than one eight year old has asked me for my autograph.
  • I’ve bungee jumped down Victoria Falls.
  • I failed my first driving test with five majors.

If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?

A war photographer

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career as a barrister?

Take the time to research Chambers that you want to apply for, and do mini-pupillages to get a sense of what each place is about – you’ll be surprised how varied different Chambers can be. Keep an open mind about what areas of law you think interest you – it’s unlikely to be the same as at university.

And finally, barristers tend to have a lot to say, so please feel free to add any extra words of wisdom here 

Less is more!