Help with preparing for criminal pupillage advocacy exercise?

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somethin.g
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Hi everyone -

I've got an in-person coming up, starting out with an advocacy exercise I have 30 minutes to prepare for. I don't know what it's going to be or how I can prepare for it. Does anybody who has experience with this kind of stuff have any advice? I've got .... four days to prep.

Also any broader advice re mental prep would be welcome. I'm especially nervous because it's my first in-person interview in over a year. So I'm almost not sure how I'm going to handle it. I used to speak in public all the time and yet, now, the prospect of giving a presentation to five lawyers, in person, seems incredibly, incredibly daunting. Which I know is not ideal considering it is a job interview to be an advocate. But there you go.

Any advice is welcome.
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Crazy Jamie
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There are endless words that have been written about this online, but here are some quick and general points.

First, it's ok to be nervous. It's ok to for the prospect of the interview to be incredibly incredibly daunting. Don't be afraid of those feelings. It should be nerve wracking.

Second, possibly my most repeated piece of advice as regards applications and interviews. Don't come up with responses to questions or your answers to an advocacy question from the perspective of trying to find the right answer. There aren't right answers, and there certainly isn't a right way of doing an advocacy exercise. Give ten practising barristers the exercise you'll receive for this interview and they may make similar points, but they'd also do it slightly differently. Ask yourself the basic questions you need to answer when prepping the problem, and use those to formulate what you will say. What is being determined (bail decision for a bail app, sentencing for a plea in mitigation, guilt for a closing speech etc)? What is the relevant law? What issues will the judge/jury/magistrates be deciding on? What are your best points that go to those issues? If there are particular weak points, how are you going to address those? The mistake in advocacy exercises is just regurgitating the facts that are in front of you. You need to identify the issues that will be decided on, and the points you can make in your client's favour in that regard. That will sometimes mean acknowledging weaknesses in your client's position, but it is ultimately about focusing on making the points you need to make to get your client the best outcome. Use that sort of structure and it will make both your preparation and your advocacy easier.

Third, the panel are barristers, but they are also human. They also know that you are both human and not a barrister. Don't pursue some sort of flawless performance. If you need a second to answer a question, take it. If you stumble in an answer or aren't sure, take a moment to compose yourself and carry on. Don't be afraid to show them who you actually are, in whatever way that is. They want to see who you are and also want you to do well. So don't worry about showing them what they want to see. Focus on showing them who you are and what you can do. It might not be enough to be offered pupillage, but it gives you a better chance than showing them something you're not.
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somethin.g
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Thanks very much Crazy Jamie. I had the interview a few days ago and am pleased to report the advocacy exercise went (I believe) well. Don't know what the outcome will be until May 7th but I certainly put my best foot forward.
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SaoPaolo
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(Original post by Crazy Jamie)
There are endless words that have been written about this online, but here are some quick and general points.
Hi, I hope you don't mind my jumping in here but I'd like to ask a thing or two about advocacy exercises and what interviewers actually want to see from you.

I had a final round interview at a commercial set recently. This involved an advocacy exercise where I was given some very bare facts related to a warranty in a contract, and how the warranty had been breached by the vendor. I had to present a case for the purchaser, which I think I did a reasonable job of.

What happened then was that one of my interviewers introduced a variation on the facts, which totally changed the legal position such that there was no way that the client I was representing could win on a claim of breach of contract. I was asked what I would say in that scenario.

My feeling was that I had two options - I could either explain why the client's case would be extremely weak on those facts, or I could try to argue that the client should win in a way that might show that I didn't understand the relevant law. I really wasn't sure what they wanted, so I said that on the new facts, the client was extremely unlikely to win because of remoteness/causation considerations.

Ultimately my question is - are they testing for understanding of the law? Or do they want candidates to identify a legal 'lost cause' and find any argument in support of the client's position? I have one more interview coming up and I believe it will include an advocacy exercise, so I want to make sure I'm as prepared for that as humanly possible.
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Crazy Jamie
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SaoPaolo The short and perhaps obvious answer is that I don't know for certain. And what I would advise you to do will change depending on the nuances of the situation. But on what you've said there you haven't actually done what was asked of you. You were given a different set of facts and asked what you would say in that scenario. It sounds to me like an exercise in which they first wanted to see how you would present a strong case where you had good points to make, and then see how you would present a weak case. Because as a barrister you will have to do both of those things. On what you've said you haven't done what they've asked, and have instead told them something that they would expect any half decent applicant to identify, namely that the case is weak. It sounds like the task was to see how you would present that weak case, not seeing if you would identify it as weak.

That said, I could be wrong. I generally expect second round interviews to test your actual skills that you would use in practice, which is why I conclude that it sounds like that they wanted you to present a weak case. It may be that it wasn't at all obvious that the case is weak and they did want you to identify that. That's just not necessarily the sort of thing that most second round interviews test. But this one might have. Or it could be that even if strictly speaking they wanted you to have a go at the submissions, the way you identified those weaknesses was nevertheless impressive in its own way. Or it may be that things were said in a different way in terms of the questions or something else happened that you haven't mentioned which in fact makes it perfectly reasonably for you to have taken the approach you did. Just because I think it sounds like they wanted to see how you presented a weak case, it doesn't mean I'm right.
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SaoPaolo
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(Original post by Crazy Jamie)
SaoPaolo The short and perhaps obvious answer is that I don't know for certain. And what I would advise you to do will change depending on the nuances of the situation. But on what you've said there you haven't actually done what was asked of you. You were given a different set of facts and asked what you would say in that scenario. It sounds to me like an exercise in which they first wanted to see how you would present a strong case where you had good points to make, and then see how you would present a weak case. Because as a barrister you will have to do both of those things. On what you've said you haven't done what they've asked, and have instead told them something that they would expect any half decent applicant to identify, namely that the case is weak. It sounds like the task was to see how you would present that weak case, not seeing if you would identify it as weak.

That said, I could be wrong. I generally expect second round interviews to test your actual skills that you would use in practice, which is why I conclude that it sounds like that they wanted you to present a weak case. It may be that it wasn't at all obvious that the case is weak and they did want you to identify that. That's just not necessarily the sort of thing that most second round interviews test. But this one might have. Or it could be that even if strictly speaking they wanted you to have a go at the submissions, the way you identified those weaknesses was nevertheless impressive in its own way. Or it may be that things were said in a different way in terms of the questions or something else happened that you haven't mentioned which in fact makes it perfectly reasonably for you to have taken the approach you did. Just because I think it sounds like they wanted to see how you presented a weak case, it doesn't mean I'm right.
Sadly I think you're right and that I cost myself a shot at the pupillage as a result. One more interview coming up and no more room for mishaps.
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