Blog: Gemma Carr on the benefits of being mentored by her Head of Chambers

Gemma Carr 2019 660x660px 1Interested in access to justice even before she became a barrister, Gemma volunteered at the Liverpool University Law Clinic and at Citizen’s Advice. During her pupillage at Spire Barristers, she appeared in the Royal Courts of Justice on a pro bono case and discusses the huge benefits of being mentored by her head of chambers. 

"I have found it incredibly useful to have senior barristers from my chambers agree to mentor me on pro bono cases. It enables me to take on cases that I ordinarily would not have the confidence to take on, as as I know I can talk the case through and run all my ideas past someone with much more expertise and experience than myself.

It is a great way to broaden your practice and take on cases you would not ordinarily be instructed on at your level of call. For example, in my second six I spotted a case on Advocate's website involving child abduction to a non-Hague convention country. I was immediately interested in this case but as I had no experience with child abduction cases I called my head of Chambers, Sarah Blackmore, who does a lot of work for Advocate to see what she thought of me accepting the case. Sarah thought this would be a great case for me to experience and not wanting me to miss out on the opportunity, she kindly agreed to lead me on it.

If Sarah had not agreed to do the case with me, I would probably have turned it down for being beyond my expertise and the client might not have secured representation. I had my first appearance in the Royal Courts of Justice through this case which was a real stand-out moment for me in my second six.

As a junior barrister it can be hard to juggle pro bono work against a full diary so I can only imagine for a senior barrister it is even more challenging. Agreeing to mentor a junior member of the Bar means that you are able to work pro bono without it being as time consuming or intrusive on your practice.

It can be daunting for junior barristers to take on pro bono cases and not having an instructing solicitor to assist or talk to about the case. This is why Collaborate, the mentorship scheme is a brilliant idea to give more members of the Bar the confidence to take on pro bono cases which will result in more access to justice to those that need it most.

Anyone that has done a pro bono case will understand the true satisfaction you get from helping someone really in need of representation. Signing up to Advocate’s mentorship scheme allows this to happen more often, which can only be a great thing."

Gemma Carr is a barrister at Spire Chambers. To sign up to Collaborate, click here.