Tell us a bit about yourself...

Hello! My name is Simran and I had the pleasure of being one of five lucky interns to spend a month in August 2022 with Advocate when they collaborated with Bridging The Bar (BTB) for their first intake of interns. I found my time at Advocate an invaluable experience – funnily enough I was interviewing for a role to Clerk a High Court judge at the time and through a serendipitous happenstance the judge I am now working with is Mr Justice Robin Knowles CBE, former Chair of Advocate!

Aside from having a very busy job working in the Commercial Court, I am an avid skier and try to ski often. I also love to read – something which should hold me in good stead to eventually take the bar and become a barrister. My recent favourite reads this month have been the 5am Club by Robin Sharma and Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Have you experienced barriers within the legal profession that make it less accessible?

Most definitely – I think I have seen first-hand, through my time working in the courts and as a criminal paralegal, how inaccessible the law feels for those who don’t come from a law background. Litigants in Person face some of the most complex challenges to date. It is hardly fair if you have two parties, one is represented and has the means to instruct legal counsel, and the other does not and has to navigate legal formalities on their own. I saw a lot of these types of cases when working with Advocate and it made me question how far, as a society, we have strayed from the rule of law when people feel they cannot adequately defend themselves yet have no legal representation.

What attracted you to the casework internship opportunity at Advocate?

 For me, it was the type of work Advocate was doing that really spurred me on to apply. Before applying, I went on to Advocate’s website and socials and read about some of the great cases they have been part of. The ones which most resonated with me were those around asylum seekers and their human rights, this is such a live issue that is only looking to exacerbate with the current government proposals.

Advocate is really at the heart of what pro bono means, making a meaningful impact incrementally through every case they take on. The diligent process Advocate uses to assess applications is genuinely trying to determine who needs help and how barristers who are willing to give their time can be best placed with the right cases.

Pro bono work is no longer something that is an addition to the justice system, it is inherent to any conversation around justice and the law. I think it is important for anyone entering the profession to understand the importance of pro bono work, for many litigants pro bono representation is the only option they have when thinking of how to navigate their case.

What was the most valuable element of your role as a Casework Intern, and was there an experience that was particularly memorable for you? 

I was working within the gateway stream and logging cases for pre-review. I also prepared court standard bundles using the HyperLaw system. I enjoyed reading the different types of cases that came through the system – I even learned about a whole area of costs that I had never studied during my law degree. The cases are very varied and this was a bonus as it meant I could very quickly pick up on the procedures, forms required, and demands of each different area of law - whether this was employment, family, chancery, or crime.

A memorable experience for me was visiting the Rolls Building to see a working court and meet a High Court judge. It was brilliant for us interns to get an intimate Q&A with Sir Robin and understand his path to becoming a judge, it also made the next interview we had when I was being matched as his clerk much more relaxed!

Did your internship experience positively impact on your legal career? 

More than I expected, I am so grateful for the opportunity given to me and it has cemented the thought that pro bono work will always be a part of my legal career in some capacity no matter what I go on to do.

I learned how to become more efficient in processing cases and how to write effective but concise case summaries. This is something that is invaluable in my legal career. Moreover, working at Advocate has helped me greatly in how I approach all litigants in person that come to court, understanding their worries and fears is more authentic when you have been on the other side with them and trying to help with their case.

What advice would you give to anyone applying for the Advocate casework internship or for legal experiences in general? 

I would say try to vary the experiences you go for; it is very easy to become one-track-minded when thinking about what area of law you want to practise in and just pursuing opportunities within that area. But being open-minded will allow you to immerse yourself in opportunities you never considered before and they sometimes end up being more aligned with your values than you first thought.

Advocate is brilliant in that sense as it will immerse you into world of pro bono at the bar unlike any other internship.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Advocate click here.