Virtual hearings starving junior lawyers of advocacy opportunities, warns top judge

Sir Julian Flaux says many discover themselves ‘limited to being a tile without picture or sound on a Teams screen’

One of the nation’s most senior judges has raised issues over the influence of distant hearings on junior barristers’ improvement.

Chancellor of the Excessive Court docket Sir Julian Flaux warned many younger lawyers are discovering themselves “limited to being a tile without picture or sound on a Teams screen” throughout digital hearings, with the advocacy usually left to senior barristers or QCs. This, based on Sir Julian, is leaving juniors who’re nonetheless studying the authorized ropes with little alternative to practise this important ability.

Addressing the Chancery Bar Association earlier this month, Sir Julian went on to notice that while distant courtroom hearings weren’t unheard of pre-pandemic, the fast and widespread shift to the bulk of hearings being performed remotely was.

Though hearings could be performed “more quickly and cost effectively by doing them remotely”, Sir Julian accepted, the dearth of advocacy alternatives for junior lawyers is detrimental as a result of “it is only by doing your own advocacy and making your own mistakes that you learn the trade”.

He added: “Without wanting to take the bread out of silks’ mouths, we have been trying, at least informally, to encourage parties to instruct junior counsel and solicitor advocates to do the advocacy at procedural hearings or at least some of it.”

This isn’t the primary time issues have been raised over the pandemic’s influence on junior barristers’ improvement.

Final 12 months the Bar Council revealed researched that confirmed a scarcity of networking alternatives within the wake of the shift to distant working was the top concern amongst child barristers. As one Authorized Cheek reader famous on the time, urgent the flesh is “invaluable” when “trying to break into a new profession”. Different issues included a scarcity of contact with pupil supervisors and interruption to courtroom work.



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