An often elusive career which is essential to the running of the Bar...Clerking. But what exactly do Clerks do, day to day and how do they get into the profession? We speak to Natalie Bryan, Junior Clerk at 3PB Winchester. She has recently been shortlisted as Junior Clerk of the Year at the 2022 UK Bar awards from Legal 500.
How did you first hear about Clerking?
I first heard of the clerking role actually on the Indeed website! I’ve always been interested in Criminology and Law, so went onto study those courses at Itchen College after finishing school, After college I did apply and got accepted to study Law and Criminology at University at of Southampton, however after much consideration I realised that university was just not for me !
Luckily I found the 3PB advert for the apprentice role in Winchester and applied for it straight away, I went through the whole interviewing process and then a week later got the call from Stuart Pringle with the great news that I was accepted and could join their team, as you could imagine I was very ecstatic!
Beforehand I didn’t know that the job/career of Barrister clerk even existed , so I strongly believe it would be important raise more awareness I guess of the clerking job and role and show people exactly what it is we do.
What was your route to becoming a Clerk?
My route onto becoming a clerk I would say was an interesting and fun process, I had the entire Winchester clerks team to guide me and teach me something new every day with great patience I should add.
Day in the life of being a clerk is constantly checking and updating diaries and searching for any issues before they arise and fix them before becoming a problem, there is also the daily conversations with various solicitors and creating different rapports with each and every one (which I love as everyone we deal with are so lovely).
Day in the life of a junior clerk is...
The Clerks role is to speak with solicitors firms and book counsel in for hearings and cases which they are experienced in their area of law and we make sure that fees are agreed a reasonable and fair rate which incorporates the amount of time counsel will spend on preparing for the hearing.
People do find it funny when they ask me to best describe what I actually do for a living, I usually tell them that I’m like a sports agent but for Law instead and somehow they then manage to understand!
Clerking is known for being quite male dominated, have you noticed any obstacles getting into the profession as a woman?
As it stands, I don’t believe I have experienced any obstacles being a women clerk if I’m being honest. If anything since joining 3PB I have seen a massive increase of women clerks in all of our centres, since when I first began which is always amazing to see!
Most of the clerks I have the pleasure to speak with on a daily basis are always respectful and just all around lovely people. The atmosphere is really welcoming.
In which ways do clerks offer support to barristers?
As a clerk we will always be there for all barristers if they need us to discuss anything they might be feeling, for instance if they have anything they need to get off their chest regarding any cases they are on and feeling stressed about or even normal day to day topics to have a break from the law side of things and just have funny random chats and sometimes tell them about our personal life gossips.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best think about my job is being able to research and read any interesting cases within Chambers. I love when I get asked to print out any papers as I then have the opportunity to read through the papers and understand exactly what barristers have to go through in their cases which isn’t always pleasant. I also gain a lot of knowledge every day being a clerk without sometimes even realising it just through have multiple discussions with clerks/barristers from various different areas of Laws.
All in all, I feel very proud to be a junior clerk and hope to continue to progress my career more throughout the years.