Twice a year the Magistrates’ Court of England and Wales are full of new meat. New barristers and solicitors, able to advocate in that Court for the first time. Those newbies are easy to spot, bundles of books under each arm, a laptop. Their shoes shine. Their wheelie bags are full of legal aid forms, wigs, gowns and assorted ephemera.
But carrying all of these items you’ll be heavily laden. The junior criminal lawyer needs to be nimble. Diving onto trains. Dashing past veteran duty solicitors trying to unload work. Deciding how to get from one end of the line to the other in the same day.
Pack light, pack right:
In your wallet:
- Bar council/Law society card – ethics hotline is on the back.
- Credit card with at least £100 credit (need you to get to Truro by 2pm sir)
- At least £10 cash (oh the magistrates’ court, it’s a 40minute walk)
- Oyster Card (each to their own, I do Zone 1 to 3 travel card)
- Some form of photo ID
In your bag:
- Blackstone’s Magistrates’ Court Handbook
- (If doing a trial, you ought to either have Blackstone’s Criminal Practice or Archbold Magistrates’)
- A folder, containing 10 CDS14s, 10 CDS 15s and a list of your instructing solicitors and their legal aid account numbers.
- A phone number of a pet barrister, someone a couple of years more experienced than you who still remembers what a Magistrates’ Court is like.
- Your wig and gown, only if you really need it, junior tenants in chambers can let you know.
- A normal pen. Nothing fancy. A biro. You know, they cost less than a £1, they work they write. Your fountain pen is now ornamental or will be stolen within seconds.
- Extra socks – it rains.
- Extra tie – you will spill mayo down your tie.
- A counsel’s notebook – those lightweight iPads/laptops of yesteryear
- Paperback trashy novel – your train will be delayed
- Water – you will have to speak at least once during the day
- Cereal bar – you do not have time for lunch
- Small change – you will find yourself stranded in a Luton housing estate