Case study

Junior planning clerk — Kayley Mason

Starting out as a junior clerk, Kayley has been promoted to the planning clerk team. Find out more about the rewards and challenges of her role, which is crucial to the success of chambers

What degree did you study?

I studied for a degree in history at Brunel University London and graduated in 2018.

How did you get your job?

I applied to a junior clerk role on the Indeed website, which got me through to a barrister chambers recruitment company. I then signed up to ABC Chambers Solutions, who put me forward for a few other junior clerking roles before I was hired by No5 Chambers.

What's a typical working day like?

Firstly, I check the diary of our planning barristers for the next day to see what needs to be arranged/confirmed and allocate who needs to sort it before the end of the day.

Then, throughout the day, I do various tasks such as billing for barristers' work, sorting legal papers by printing them out or saving them on our data system.

I liaise with solicitors and planning developers regarding advisory work, conferences and hearings for barristers, and agree fees for them. I may also have to go over to court to lodge hard copies of papers or help a barrister take their papers to the courtroom. I also sort out the post every day and refill stationery stocks.

Towards the end of the day, I sort listings for any hearings our barristers will be going to the next day and check that everything is sorted. I then send an email to each barrister reminding them of their duties for the next day.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy how social the job is. When you go to court, for example, you meet other junior clerks while you're waiting around for barristers. Also, the other clerks in my office started out as juniors so it's natural to create a bond by sharing experiences together.

What are the challenges?

One of the challenges is how some tasks come up unexpectedly and need to be dealt with immediately, which might take up a big chunk of your day. When this happens, you have to make sure you let someone else know about what other tasks you have to complete so they can help you out and everything gets dealt with on time.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My degree helped me develop organisational skills that are essential to this job. At university I had to prioritise what essays/presentations should take precedence so my workload didn’t become overwhelming at certain points during the year.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

At first I was a junior clerk, which is where you generally assist the barristers in your chambers. You have to print out their papers, take papers over to court for hearings or lodge papers at the various court offices in the Royal Courts of Justice and other legal buildings. However, since I've been promoted onto the planning clerking team I have more involvement with the barristers' diaries.

My career ambitions are to develop my skills as a clerk and fully understand each of my barrister's skillsets. In the future, I would like to become a practice manager and help the barristers curate their work to help improve their own workload, as well as boost chambers' stature.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Always treat everyone you encounter with respect, especially barristers.
  • Don't worry if you haven't got any legal experience. While this job is in the legal sector and you are surrounded by lawyers, you don't need to have an in-depth knowledge of the law when you start out. You will gradually be exposed to the law and will soon gain basic legal knowledge without realising.

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