Whenever I see pieces like this, they always come across to me the same way that most pupil barrister’s profiles/CVs read. ‘I revolutionised the court system in *insert developing country*, later winning a Nobel Prize and convening a few UN Summits in between.’

I can’t relate. I am a baby barrister trying to look/sound/be as competent as possible, gradually annoy my clerks less, and not spend an inordinate amount of the day inside the washing machine of my overactive and anxious mind.

I start most days with the sound that all iPhone users instantly recognise and dread. I have considered changing the alarm, but any sound which regularly forces me out of sleep is one I will inevitably come to hate eventually, so I may as well regulate my loathing to just the one. Because today’s hearing is remote, I am gifted extra sleep so can’t complain (as much as usual).

I am fully dressed and ready for the day at 8.45am, sans shoes. A lawyer on Twitter said that they feel guilty when they conduct remote hearings without wearing shoes and it made me pause and reflect. Should I be wearing shoes, alone in my flat with my feet well out of view? No, I won’t be wearing shoes.

I set up my sophisticated and luxurious work-from-home station which consists of my laptop placed atop of a stand bought from Amazon, on my dining table (optimally rotated to utilise natural daylight), iPad by its side.

I am acting in a care case for a young mother. I finish the hearing and call her afterwards to check that she is okay and to talk her through next steps.

The pandemic and the widespread introduction of remote hearings has been an interesting start to my career at the Bar. I often joke that I am an ‘online lawyer’. I have attended hearings in-person, of course, but it is not currently my ‘normal’, which I am aware contrasts with the experiences of most barristers who have spent their careers in court buildings and have now adjusted to remote hearings. My first hearings were telephone hearings, and it was months until I attended in person.

I have now appeared in courts, quite literally, in every corner of the country and far sooner than I expected to this early in my career. It has been wonderful working with and opposing advocates that I usually wouldn’t, and it has been challenging almost never having any familiarity with the judges I appear before.

We are coming up to the final hearing in this case and I have represented this client in every hearing, from the first hearing several months ago. We discuss me being (very) far away. I am told that if it comes to it, the client would rather have me represent her remotely at the final hearing than someone else attend with her in person and I admit to feeling touched by this. The work that I have done for this client in this case was exactly the kind of thing that I saw myself doing when I envisaged being a barrister – advocating for those that need it and genuinely helping them with important, life-changing matters. If it comes to it, I will make the journey.

I am off to the gym. I wish I could say that I usually wake up and go at 6am and that this day is exceptional, but it would be a veracious lie. I have never done that. Not once. Although, it could potentially help a ‘problem’ that has arisen and become a circus.

This gym is a resident’s gym, contained inside the apartment building. By most standards, it is small, compact (limited). There are only two treadmills, and as a response to the pandemic, one has been taken out of use to try and ensure social distancing.

Additionally, one-hour slots must be booked. This has led to people also booking the slot before the one that they actually need, to get in earlier and claim the treadmill. It started with arriving five minutes earlier, then 15, now 30. It is ridiculous.

I have devised a cunning plan. The gym is shut 11am-12pm for cleaning. I go down at 11.55am and sweet talk the concierge into unlocking the doors five minutes early. Triumphant, I mount the treadmill. I hear the doors swing shut behind me a few minutes later and instinctively whip my head around to see a confused and crestfallen man. His timing was perfect, arriving at 12pm on the dot – right after the cleaning hour, nobody able to sneakily book the slot before, how could the treadmill already be in use? Sorry, my friend, I really am.

I finish up at the gym, shower, and am back at my workstation with a nutritionally balanced, late lunch (protein cereal). I broke a nail lifting a dumbbell so call to make a last-minute appointment to have it repaired tomorrow morning – fortunately tomorrow’s hearing is in the afternoon. I should also have time for The Treadmill Games in between.

Prior to coming to the Bar, I worked within the forensic department at a ‘Big Four’ accounting firm. There are lots of things I miss about my role – such as project-based assignments, working within teams and enjoying the collegiate spirit this brought, and the obvious benefits to my mental health of (usually) not sending or receiving emails in the evenings or working at the weekend.

However, I love the newfound freedom of managing my days around hearings in a way that suits me, with complete autonomy – including starting my day with an emergency nail appointment when needed.

I wade through the 17 emails I have received since, about the morning’s hearing and resulting order. I email over my suggestions and amendments to the order and complete an attendance note.

I have signed up to conduct a mock pupillage interview as part of a scheme with the Inner Temple Student’s Association to improve pupillage prospects for aspiring BAME barristers. Many at the Bar are now aware of the statistics collected by the Bar Standards Board (in 2017) which found that BAME students are half as likely to get pupillage as their white counterparts, even with equivalent university and Bar course grades. No schemes like this or anything similar existed when I was a student. There is still a long way to go, but I am pleased to see the progress made in attempting to improve equality and diversity within the profession and glad that I can contribute to this in some small way. My mock interviewee is a career changer who didn’t make an application for pupillage this year but wanted some practice in advance of applying for the first time, next year.

With the interview wrapped up and feedback given, my mind turns to preparation for tomorrow’s hearing. I read the brief. Read through the papers. Re-read the brief. The dots are not connecting, and anxiety levels are rising. I call my best friend (she is also a family law barrister). Pacing from room to room, I tell her my conundrum and she calms me down and gives me some pointers. I cannot overstate the appreciation that I have for the many more experienced barristers who are willing to talk things through and help when needed. Feeling less overwhelmed, I start preparations. It is 4pm now and I am likely to be working until around 8pm. At some point, I will eat dinner. At some point, I will call my mum. At some point after that, I will go to sleep. And *that* sound from my iPhone will wake me up to do it all again tomorrow.