Attending Court: It’s Not All Glamour!

Being the only second-year trainee not to have been to London, I was excited to finally get the opportunity to go in the second week of my commercial litigation seat. I was asked to attend the second and final day of an appeal by our client in the Upper Land Tribunal.  My task was simple: to take as many detailed notes as humanly possible.

A few days in advance of the appeal I was given my own copy of the bundle so I could get up to speed with the case. As a trainee, you often get involved in a broad range of matters, and this is certainly my experience of my litigation seat so far. This case involved the specifics of mushroom growing and particularly the properties of mycelium. Although it sounds geeky, it was fascinating to learn about and definitely not what I was expecting. Even though I have a keen interest in food and love mushrooms, it’s fair to say I didn’t have a clue how mushrooms are commercially grown. You learn something every day!

Before I left the office, one of my colleagues called me to ask just how big my suitcase was, and did it have wheels? Considering I wasn’t planning on a budget airline flight, I was somewhat surprised with her interest in my luggage. She asked if I could take a bundle back with me and I readily agreed, because as a trainee, that’s what you do.

A colleague reminded me to take at least two counsel’s notebooks and a lot of pens. Perhaps 8 was excessive, and maybe I needn’t have stopped to plunge an extra fistful into my bag on the way past the stationery cupboard, but seeing as this was my first time in court whilst at Michelmores, I didn’t want to take chances. Everyone has been in the situation where they’re being given information and are violently scribbling lines on their paper to make their pen work. Well that wouldn’t be me.

Luckily it wasn’t. After settling into the basement court room of the upper land tribunal, which was some distance from the images of grandeur in my head (think secondary school classroom with a horse and a lion on the wall), I was ready and eager to listen to the QC stood in front of me. I have never written the word ‘mycelium’ more times in my life. It was a fantastic experience, despite the slight hand cramp and terrifying moment when the QC turns to you and says ‘so what did you think?’ in a room full of people, with much greater knowledge than you. For some reason, that’s the moment you just stop thinking. Great.

It did make me smile thinking of the glamour commonly associated with the court, as reflected in countless television dramas and books. There was definitely nothing glamorous about dragging a suitcase crammed with bundles (not just one!) whilst a bag rammed with files removed the feeling from my shoulder. Even less glamorous was travelling in a taxi in which the entry and exit of the occupants resembled an awkward game of Tetris. The low point was probably the explosion of pens from my handbag as the taxi rounded a corner, I mean who brings 12??