Name: Flora Robertson
Degree: BA Theology; MPhil Philosophy of Religion
Studied BPTC at: Kaplan
Hobbies: Drawing and climbing
How many rounds of applications did it take to get pupillage? One
Number of interviews attended: about 12
Why did you decide to train as a barrister?
I was already working as an immigration and asylum caseworker, and loved the written and oral advocacy involved. It seemed logical to train as a lawyer and the bar was the obvious option.
What was the toughest pupillage interview question you were asked (at any chambers) and how did you answer?
I was once asked who my favourite TV lawyer was. I don’t watch TV, couldn’t think of anyone, and at random answered “Hercule Poirot.” Yes, I know, he isn’t a lawyer, but he does have an excellent moustache…
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment…
Since I started tenancy in September 2015 I have had a real mix of work, both led and on my own. Almost at the outset I was instructed on a major international fraud dispute involving a well-known investment bank and a sovereign wealth fund which continues to take up a considerable amount of time, but I have also been involved in a big money divorce case as well as representing Iraqi claimants in their judicial review claims against the secretary of state for defence.
Alongside that I have continued to present asylum and immigration appeals. It can be challenging jumping between practice areas but that’s also part of the fun.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Being self-employed really suits me. I like to be in charge of my own time and working patterns. I also feel very lucky to be doing such an interesting job, surrounded by interesting people – it may be stressful at times but it is never boring.
What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to get to grips with?
The biggest adjustment I felt I had to make between pupillage and tenancy was the practice management side of things – how much work to take on, what to turn down, how to realistically estimate how long a piece of work will take, etc. Having said that we have a mentoring system for new tenants in chambers which helped enormously and the clerking team are also brilliant at advising on such matters.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
I didn’t expect to work on so many large, led cases so early on: I had perhaps anticipated having more of a solitary practice than has been the case so far. The teamwork element has been a great way to continue learning from others in the absence of a pupil supervisor.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
One of our new tenants, subject “Dinner” – a group of us are going for pancakes tonight.
What’s your best ‘in court’ anecdote so far?
Outside court really, but one of my most memorable mini pupillage experiences was running around the RCJ searching for my supervisor’s wig. A good way to get to know the building!
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?
Probably Ajay Ratan. He’d be likely to have a good supply of jaffa cakes.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I love maths.
- I’ve been listening to the Avalanches’ new album on repeat for the last week at work.
- I lived on a boat for eight years.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
I’d have been an artist.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career as a barrister?
Be patient and persistent. Get as much practical legal experience as you can. Don’t underestimate how much energy you’ll need during the long process of applications, interviews, and pupillage.
Expect to get rejections, and ask for feedback after interviews which didn’t go so well. At the same time, try to retain a sense of perspective by keeping up your other interests and hanging out with non-lawyers – it can be refreshing to spend time with people who don’t understand what you’re up to, and are not particularly interested either.
And finally, barristers tend to have a lot to say, so please feel free to add any extra words of wisdom here: