Friday, 13 March 2015

A Week in the Life of a Mother Juggling the BPTC and Pro Bono zzzzzzzzz

No week is the same for me as I participate in several pro bono roles including Appropriate Adult, Independent Custody Visitor and Lay Observer. However, what I can guarantee is that life is always hectic and requires me to have exceptional organisational and time management skills when juggling my studies, volunteering and my family. Below is a little blog of a week in March 2015.

7:00-Wake up and organise my younger two children and the items they require for school. Fortunately my daughter is very independent and arranges everything she needs herself. In fact I am lucky to get a sentence out of her in the morning. She is nearly 13 but thinks she is 21. Somewhere in-between organising my children  for school I find the time to make myself presentable to the world and ensure I have everything that I need for the day. 

8:15-Time for school runs. Today one of my children is off on a 5 day residential trip with their school. This means that I need to get to school 30 minutes earlier with all their bags, before dropping my other child to school.

9:00-Grab a quick coffee and drive 25 miles to Northampton. 

10:00-12:00-Today I had a monthly debriefing meeting with Catch22 in Northampton. During the meeting we discussed my availability and compatibility to take on a new mentee. I am now due to start working with my new mentee in a couple of weeks.

12:15-Last week I organised a raffle to raise money for Wild Hearts in Action, a charity who provide micro business loans to women in developing countries. The raffle will be taking place this weekend. I contacted Venture Photography Northampton last week to ask for a complimentary prize. They kindly agreed to donate a photo shoot package worth £245. I have arranged to collect the prize today while I am in Northampton. 

12:30-Depart from Northampton and head home to South Northamptonshire. On route I drop off some raffle tickets to some friends who have agreed to purchase some tickets.

13:20-I arrive home, change my shoes  and collect my bags for Bar School. I drive to my brothers house, 5 miles away to collect him. My brother kindly collects the children from school some days when their father is unable to assist. Unfortunately he does not drive so I have to collect him as I live in a small village. I can not complain though as he does not charge me much. I would be lost without him as childcare is scarce in the village, even with a childminder I would be stuck at they usually finish at 6 pm.

13:50-I drop my brother at my house and  head straight to my local train station, 15 minutes away. 

14:05-I arrived at the train station 10 minutes early for train. I park swiftly and pay for parking on the Ringo parking app while heading to the ticket machine. I collect my train ticket from the ticket machine and head to the train platform.

14:15-I board the train. This is when you have to be really alert. If I manage to get a table I can utilize the 80 minute train journey and do some of my preparation for this evenings Criminal Litigation small group session. I am like a bull with a red flag heading to the only table free within this coach. I do not mess around. Within a minute I have my suitcase open and my books out. Luckily today we have one lecture and one small group session. Therefore I only need to prepare for one class.

15:35-I arrive at London Marylebone. Time to get the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus and then the Circle Line to Holborn.

15:55-I arrive in Holborn, in search of a coffee shop. Fortunately there always seems to be a coffee shop in sight as you walk along High Holborn. I wonder why lol? I grab a skinny cappuccino and head to Grays Inn. I have 2 hours before my first lesson starts so I head to the library to complete my Criminal Litigation preparation.

17:30-My brain is feeling a little distracted now, I am satisfied that I have completed enough preparation for this evening. Time to walk over to the Common Room to catch up with some of my Bar School friends. One of my friends entices me into running back out for a grilled chicken wrap before our sessions start at City Law School. I did not need much persuasion as I have forgotten to eat since breakfast. 

17:55-My Criminal  Litigation small group session commences. All of our small sessions are conducted in a class room with 10-12 students. We always have the same 11 in our group, unless it is an advocacy session and then the group is split in half, with six in our group. My Criminal Litigation tutor is one of my favorite tutors. He does not allow anyone to slack, we always take preparation for his sessions seriously as he always aims his questions at individuals rather than the whole group. (Not that Bar School work is ever a thing to be taken light heartedly.) He is a fantastic tutor as he really pushes you to think about your answers.

19:30-We finish Criminal Litigation and head down two flights of stairs for a 90 minute lecture on Professional Ethics. This is our last Ethics session before our centralised exam, held at the end of the month. As the lecture starts I wish that I had purchased another coffee. It is too late now so I keep focused by writing down notes, despite us being provided with a handout.

21:00-Bar School is finished for tonight. I contemplate whether I should head straight home or whether I should have a quick drink in one of the local bars with some of my Bar School friends. One of my friends thinks drinks are a good idea. We attempt to persuade our other friends to join us. On this occasion everyone else declines. We head to a local bar for a couple of drinks to unwind. We discuss life at Bar School, upcoming formal commitments and life in general. A couple of his friends from Grays Inn join us, which is nice.

22:30-Time to head back to the train station before I get too comfy. I do not want to miss the last train home at 12:05 as I will be stuck in London until 6 am.  This happened back in December when I thought the last train home was 12:20. That is another story, its safe to say I will not be missing the train again!

23:00-I swiftly buy a hot chocolate for the journey home before catching the train. It is surprisingly busy this evening. The train company always seems to run the less pleasant trains at this time of night. There are no tables and the seats are all uncomfortable. There is also no privacy as the seating areas are all set up facing each other. It would be really nice to have the comfy seats that I traveled in on the way into London this afternoon. The late night trains also stop at every station you can imagine. Half way through the journey I am the only person left in this carriage, with exception for a creepy guy that can not stop looking at me. I look around and think that if he made any advances nobody would know. I decide to subtly move to another carriage. In the next carriage is a couple of pleasant looking women. I decide to sit down in a seat near them. Five minutes later and I realise my instincts in regards to the creepy man were probably correct as he moves carriage and sits in a seat a couple of rows away from me. Fortunately he gets of the train a few stops later, what a creepy man!!!

01:00-I arrive home and am I thankful for my bed. My youngest is curled up in my bed as he is missing both myself and his sibling, who is away on his school trip. 

7:00-Today I wake up and help my youngest get ready for school. It is surprising how much easier the morning seems with only one child to organise. There is no arguing between the boys about their sibling wearing their trousers or eating the last of their favorite cereal. I pull out a black suit to wear as I have a meeting this morning, and then I am in the Royal Courts of Justice this afternoon to play a witness in a mock trial.

8:30-I am enthusiastically at the school gate 3 minutes before the gate opens as I need to be in Woking by 11 am. Unfortunately my enthusiasm is wasted as the school gates open ten minutes late today as half of the staff are away on the residential trip. I give my son a kiss goodbye and tell him to enjoy his day. He panics and remembers he has forgotten a glove. He is quite adamant that he needs his gloves or he will have cold hands at play time. I tell him that he will be alright for one day and run off. As I walk off 'mummy guilt' kicks in! I look at my watch and calculate that I should have 5 minutes spare to collect his glove and drop it off if I am quick. I run to the house and luckily his glove is within sight, on the floor. I run back to a very grateful 6 year old child. Hooooooray good deed of the day complete, I can now get on with my day guilt free.

9:00-I jump in the car, set my satellite navigation and head to Woking. On route I grab a coffee as I realise I have not had one yet today. If I do not have one I will probably be falling asleep by 11am.

10:40-I am very lucky today. The roads have been clear and I arrive at my meeting in Woking 20 minutes early. Sometimes the journey can take me 2 1/2 hours with traffic, especially on the motorway.

11:00-13:15-Today's meeting is the regional Lay Observers meeting. England and Wales is divided into four regions for the purpose of Lay Observers meetings and visits. Due to my location I sit on the border or Region 1 and Region 4. Therefore I can choose which quarterly meeting I go to. I tend to go to the Woking meetings as I know the group better and they are very welcoming. I refrain choosing the other regions meetings as there is a 'lovely' lady who is under the impression that it is 'her meeting', this can be quite frustrating for everyone that attends. Moving back to today's meeting there was about 8 people present. The Lay Observers Chairman was present, as was my group coordinator. There were also four other male Lay Observers and one other female. I am the youngest Lay Observer in my region at 30. The other female Lay Observer is around 50 and is fairly new, all of the males are of retirement age. It is very nice as they have allot of experience between them from there previous careers, nevertheless I do think it is refreshing that they are slowly getting applications from more younger applicants and female applicants. I will discuss my role as a Lay Observer in more depth on another link when I find the time to write it, so watch this space!

13:15-The meeting finally comes to a end and I leave swiftly conscious that I have a train to catch at 15:30 from Bicester, Oxfordshire. 

14:50-Today I am exceptionally lucky as I make it back to Bicester without being stuck in any congestion. I arrive in Bicester with 30 minutes to spare. I am really hungry and it is unlikely I will get another opportunity to eat before 20:00. I really fancy a Nando's but I am not confident that I can park up, walk to Nando's, order and receive my food quick enough to make it back to the train station in time. I decide that I will have to settle with a Burger King, as I can park outside the restaurant building and it is on-route.

15:30-I arrive at Bicester train station in time for my train. I use the journey constructively and  read through my witness statements for this evenings mock trial. I had previously read through them last week but my brain has absorbed allot of information since then so it is essential I refresh my memory.

16:45-I arrive at London Marylebone with 30 minutes to reach the Royal Courts of Justice. There is no time to spare so I rush to the Bakerloo Line to catch the tube to Holborn. When I arrive at Holborn I take a brisk walk to the Royal Courts of Justice. I arrive 5 minutes early feeling a bit windswept. I decide to run over to a coffee shop and purchase a bottle of water and freshen up my hair and make-up in the toilet. 

17:15-I arrive inside the Royal Courts of Justice on time. I make my way through security to be greeted by a host for this evenings training, who informs me which court room I should be in. I make my way up the steep stairs and through the narrow corridors to find  the correct court room.This evening I have volunteered to play two witnesses in a mock civil trial. There is another student from my Inn also playing two witnesses. This evening is worth 1/2 a Inn Qualifying Session point, for students playing witnesses. This is the second time I have participated in this training so I have now gained another full Qualifying Session point. We are required to complete 12 Qualifying Sessions before we can be called to the Bar, on completion of the Bar Professional Training Course. Call night counts as your 12th Qualifying Session point. After this evening I will have 11 Qualifying Session points, so I do not need to complete anymore Qualifying Sessions before call night. This is nice as it is one less commitment to think about fore a while. However, I quite enjoy them so I might still attend the occasional one before Call Night.

This evening there are two senior members of the Bar acting as Judges. The two people acting as counsel are Pupils (newly qualified barristers) who are taking part in compulsory training organised by Inner Temple. It a fantastic opportunity for me to develop my public speaking skills, while picking up new advocacy techniques. At the end of the mock trial we leave the Judges to make a decision on the winning advocate. On this occasion my advocate was the winner. I was surprised as I thought the other advocate was marginally better, but who am I to disagree with senior members of the Bar? What I was unaware of was that the winning advocate wins £500, which is quite nice for the winner. What a shame the witnesses can not claim our travel expenses back, that extra £25 would have come in useful. I can not complain though as this session is free and many of the other Inn sessions cost.

19:30-I head back to Holborn to catch the tube to Marylebone and the train home to Northamptonshire. If I move swiftly I may get home in time to spend a hour with my teenage daughter.

21:00-I arrive back at my local train station. I remember that I need to head to the supermarket as my daughter text me a list of items we have ran out of, earlier in the day. Unfortunately, that means I must go now as there is not a shop in our village. At least it will be quiet in the shops at this time of night.

 21:45-After a long day of traveling across counties I am finally home. My youngest is tucked up in bed and my middle child is still on his trip. I hope he is having fun. My daughter is still awake so we unwind on the couch and watch a couple of soaps for a hour before she goes to bed. 

23:00-My brother is still here from yesterday so I leave him watching Breaking Bad, as I head up to bed trying to remember what commitments I have tomorrow.

7:00-Wake up and organise me and my son. There is ten minutes to spare so we do some reading together. He loves reading with me. He always tries to find the funny books at school that he thinks will make me laugh. He is a real mummy boy. However, he is not clingy and is quite content when I am not about and working etc.

8:30-I take my son to school. 

9:00- After dropping my son to school I drive my brother back home. My children's father will be picking them up from school this evening.

09:20-Time to head to the train station. I need to catch the quick train to Marylebone at 10:00 as I have a meeting in Holborn at 12:30 and I do not want to be late.

09:40-I arrived at the train station 20 minutes early for the train. Today the car park is very full. Some days there are lots of free spaces, like Monday. Other days your lucky to get a space. On this occasion I seem to have been lucky and secured the last parking space, right at the top of the multi-storey, perfect for getting caught by the rain. Guess what, it is raining! I contemplate whether to purchase my parking ticket immediately or whether to wait fifteen minutes and purchase it on the app as the daily price goes down by 30% at 10 am. I decide that it is not work risking a £50 ticket and reluctantly pay the higher rate. I then que up for ten minutes to collect my train tickets. Who would have thought collecting pre-purchased tickets would still take ten minutes. I wish I could just get a digital ticket on my phone, that would save me time.

10:00-Despite being delayed when locating parking and collecting tickets, I make it on the platform just in time for my train. I swiftly locate a table seat again, in the quiet zone. However, to my disappointment a couple decide to join me. They are ignorant to the quiet zone stickers plastered all over the windows. It does not look like I am going to fit in much preparation for this evenings Evidence small group session. They are constantly knocking my books, the lady next to me does not respect my personal space and keeps knocking my arm as I write. I have heard her whole life story and her food crumbs are making there way towards my Blackstones Criminal Practice book worth over £300. I decide to give up before I get stressed. I save my preparation and reading for in the library later in the day. 

11:15-I arrive in Marylebone and head to the underground to make my way to Holborn. 

11:45-I arrive in Holborn with 45 minutes to spare. After that train journey I  need a coffee, in fact I think I deserve a sweet treat too. I head into my favorite coffee shop, which is on the corner of Grays Inn. I relax for 20 minutes with a skinny cappuccino and chocolate shortbread before heading to City Law School, within the grounds of Grays Inn.

12:30-Today I am representing the first year part time BPTC students at a panel meeting with the Bar Standards Board. There were 5 members of the BSB on the panel. There was also a second year part time BPTC student and roughly 8 full time BPTC students. It was an interesting meeting as the full time students appeared to have different challenges and concerns, compared to part time students.

14:00-The panel meeting ends and I take a walk with the second year part time BPTC student. It is interesting to hear about the modules I will be taking in September 2015. He warns me to avoid other commitments during my second year as the work is more intense. I wisely take note of this. After chatting for a hour he makes his way to get some food before heading home. He is off to a noodle bar so I decide to join him as I am starting to get hungry. If I do not have something soon I will have to wait until after 9pm. I order a takeaway Thai noodles, and exchange contact details before heading back to City Law School.

15:00-I head to the library with my noodles to prepare for my Evidence small group session this evening. This was not the wisest of choices in regards to food choices, when trying to eat discreetly in a library with a no eating policy. Its safe to say I will not be attempting that again. The noodles were delicious though. I think they will be taking over from my current favorite, GBK.

17:45-I have completed most of my preparation for this evening. Time to head to the Common Room for ten minutes, before heading to my Evidence session.

18:00-19:00-This evenings Evidence session is only 60 minutes long, instead of 90 minutes. That means I will finish 30 minutes early tonight. 

19:00-20:30-This evening is our first Conferencing Skills session. It is a introductory lecture, so there was no preparation required for this evening. I am looking forward to this module! I took a module similar at undergraduate called 'Client Interviewing' and came top of my year with a first. I also came second in the internal Client Interviewing Competition. Hopefully I can achieve similar success again as the skills will be very similar. I think the biggest change will be the ethical dilemmas I will face in avoiding leading questions.

20:30-As anticipated I have finished early. I make my way to the tube and train station swiftly to catch the quick train home.

21:15-I make it onto the quick train in time. I spend the 60 minute journey reading through the work I completed in Evidence today.

22:15-I arrive at the train station. The children are at their fathers tonight so I have to collect them on my way home. I also drop off some more raffle tickets to friends who have agreed to purchase tickets.

23:00-I am finally home, the children are wrapped back up in their beds and quickly fall back to sleep. I could quite happily fall asleep now. However, the housework will not do itself. I spend 30 minutes unloading and loading the washing machine and dish washer. I then tidy up the kitchen and living room. All that rushing around has me alert again. I decide to unwind for thirty minutes watching a documentary that I recorded recently before making it to bed at midnight.

7:00-I wake up and organise my son for school etc. I also do some quick housework unloading last nights washing from the dish washer and washing machine.

8:30-Today I take a leisurely stole to the school with my youngest son. I am not in a rush today as I do not need to leave the house until this afternoon.

9:00- I arrive back feeling like I need to relax for a hour. I make some breakfast and coffee and watch an episode of my favorite drama Scandal. Who doesn't love Olivia Pope?

09:45-I could happily catch up on tv all day. However, I have a moot this evening at 6pm in London. I am taking part in London Big Voice 2015. Post graduate law students are paired up with a A-Level school student and act as their mentor in the mooting competition. Fortunately, I completed most of my preparation over the weekend. However, I still have some preparation I need to complete before this evening. I need to refresh my memory on the cases and put the bundles together.

14:00-With all of my preparation complete I have some time to cook something before I leave. I cook some piri piri chicken. While the chicken is cooking I prepare a salad to accompany it. I have eaten to much junk this week and am pining nutrition.

14:45-Time to head off and collect my brother. He is childminding again this evening. On route I drop off some raffle tickets to a few more friends.

15:30-After dropping my brother at my house in time for the school run, I am finally at the train station. This is starting to feel like groundhog day. Oooh I suddenly remember that I need to contact a local party venue to confirm numbers, it is my sons birthday party this weekend. No time like the present! (No pun intended lol.)

17:00-I arrive at Marleybone after catching the slow train. The quick 50 minute trains do not seem to run around 3 pm. Yes you have probably guessed right by now, I travel to Holborn, grab a coffee and walk to City Law School. When I arrive I keep a look out for my mentee as I have asked her to arrive early so we can go over our preparation. If we have time I am hoping that we will be able to have a practice run. Unfortunately, she does not arrive early.

17:50-My mentee finally arrives and we make our way to the mooting room. We are the second group to moot in our room so we have some time to spare. I go though the preparation with my mentee and answer any questions that she may have. We are then called through to our mooting room to conduct our moot.

20:15-Mooting is finished so I say goodbye and head home. I am sure you are more than familiar with my route by now. During my journey home I start to research cases and legislation in preparation for next weeks moot.

22:00-I am finally home. All I want to do is relax. However, my brother needs a lift home so I will just have to wait 30 minutes.

22:30-I unwind in front of the television for 30 minutes before heading up to bed. I then remember I have an interview in the morning so I print a copy of my curriculum vitae off so I can look through it in the morning to refresh my memory in preparation for interview answers.

7:30-The extra 30 minutes in bed this morning was lovely. I have a busy day ahead but I am looking forward to seeing my son today who will be returning from his school trip. I make sure I wear a suit today as I will be attending courts and have an interview this afternoon. 

8:30-I head to the school swiftly this morning as I have allot of traveling to do today to get everything done. 

8:40-I head off to Leamington Spa with my Lay Observer folder. I conduct a visit at Warwick Combined Court, interviewing detainees and recording my findings. I will type these up this evening. Sometimes court visits can take around 90 minutes. However, today everything was running smoothly and the court was quite quiet which meant I was finished within 45 minutes. That meant that I should be able to squeeze in a visit to Milton Keynes before my interview this afternoon. I knew that this was likely to take a similar amount of time as I am aware of which courts are quiet and which are busy in custody. I am also aware of which courts have ongoing concerns which have not been rectified. Luckily these two courts are two of the best courts in my area.

11:00-I arrive at Milton Keynes Magistrates court to complete my second visit of the day. Again my visit consisted of, interviewing detainees and recording my findings. I will type these up this evening with my other report.

12:45-I arrive in Towcester for my interview. This is for some one off work during the elections. However, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get my foot in the door. It might help if I ever decide to apply for full time work within the council. It is important to keep my options open as a law graduate. I look over my curriculum vitae quickly for some ideas to discuss during my interview.

12:55-I am greeted by my interviewer who is delighted that I arrived early as I am her last applicant.The interview commences!

13:20-Well that interview went smoothly. It was quite relaxed and informal, which is always nice. She will be in contact shortly. 

14:00-I arrive home with 90 minutes to spare before the school run. I decide to go and try to sell some more raffle tickets for my raffle that I will be holding this evening. My attempts were not in vain as I managed to sell some extra tickets. I have now raised £125.20 for Wild Hearts in Action. I am quite proud considering I only started contacting local businesses for prizes last week. I only began selling raffle tickets on Sunday, in between my busy schedule. 

15:30-I collect my children from school. I was greeted by a tired muddy child with a suitcase full of muddy clothes. It sounds like he had good fun though!

15:45-Time to tackle the muddy washing!

16:00-Family time and cooking. We are going to have a roast this evening. 

18:00-My daughter is making her way though her homework and my middle child has fell asleep with exhaustion. I ask my youngest son to help me fold the raffle tickets and place them in a jar. He then does the honors of drawing the tickets out while I match tickets to names and prizes. I then contact the winners to arrange delivery of their prizes.

19:00-Time for a cuddle on the couch with the little one.

21:00-I am usually on call on Friday evenings as an Appropriate Adult for youths in police custody at Northampton Criminal; Justice Centre. Tonight is no exception. Luckily my sister had already dropped my brother off. I head to Northampton when I get a call at 9pm.

12:45-I am finally home. Thank goodness I do not have any work or training tomorrow, unlike the past three weeks.


09:00-Wake up 

10:00-Catch up on some paperwork. I still need to type up yesterdays reports.

11:00-12:00- Take boys to their football training.

13:00-There are some last minute chores to complete in preparation for tomorrows party. I debate whether to make or purchase a cake. I frequently make cake but I decided to buy one as my son had already picked one out last time we were shopping. Nevertheless I feel quite guilty, I had already received sarcastic comments from the 'stay at home mummies' about booking a birthday party at a location where the party was almost hassle free. It did not matter that that was where my son actually wanted to enjoy his party. I can imagine the comments now.... "You brought a cake???? Wow I always bake ours!" The guilt quickly disappears when I remember that as long as my son is content that is all that matters. The other children are just going to be excited that it is a 'minion cake'. I am sure they do not care whether it was purchased from a shop.

14:00-Time to enjoy some family time for the rest of the day! Goodbye.


08:00-I am woken up by my son who is quite distressed. "Mummy it is 8 and my party was at 3, we have missed it!" I quickly reassure him that the party is at 3pm and not 3am!

I spend the rest of the morning distracting him so he does not ask me what time it is another 100 times. It is nice to see him so excited. 

14:00-We head to the party venue, 5 miles away. I want to be early to ensure that I greet everyone that arrives.

15:00-Party starts! Children have great fun. Mothers gossip about teachers, other children and similar topics. I use my poker face to polity pretend I am interested in tittle-tattle. Some of the fathers group together and have mans talk. I am sure it is better than mothers talk which seems to consist of moaning about everything. I adore my children but I really do not feel it is necessary to complain about everything and everyone. I have never really like this side of parent get together's. However I guess the parents who do not work do not have much else to talk about (meant in the nicest possible way). My sons look like they are having great fun and so are their friends. My daughter decides she is too old to play on the equipment and sits in wait of food and drink. She smartly asks 'nanny' and 'aunty' for money for cookies and fizzy drinks whenever I am preoccupied checking up on children who's parents have smartly decided to leave and embrace two hours of freedom.

17:30-The party finishes. I think everyone had fun and I think I escaped the shop brought cake comments. Wow my son has been spoilt. I am not sure where he is going to put all of these presents. With a car full of children and a boot full of toys, we head home.

18:00-My son is excited to open his presents. He attempts to play with every toy over the next two hours. My other two children assist him!

20:00-Time to prepare the boys for bed and organise their school stuff for tomorrow! I think I will tackle the toys tomorrow though. 

22:00-I head to bed with a Criminal Litigation book to read. Tomorrow will be the beginning of another hectic week!!

Thank you for reading my Blog. I hope that it has not sent you to sleep!
 Look out for my future Blogs discussing legal/political topics, advice for a career in law and insight into different pro bono opportunities.

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