Case study

Team leader's assistant — Charlotte Murkett-Lamb

Charlotte thoroughly enjoys working as a barristers' clerk and the knowledge she's gained of the legal sector through doing her job. Find out more about her role and career ambitions

What degree did you study?

I studied for a BSc Hons Psychology at London South Bank University, graduating in 2016.

How did you get your job?

I got my job with Essex Court Chambers through ABC Chambers Solutions, who work together with various chambers to help individuals hoping to get into the industry.

What's a typical working day like?

My typical day involves diary management, speaking with barristers and solicitors on the phone and via email, agreeing brief fees for upcoming hearings for various barristers, dealing with new enquiries and ensuring that the correct barrister is assigned to any new unassigned matters that come in. I also liaise with various courts and undertake general management of the barristers’ professional lives.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I get to see the work that goes on behind the scenes when preparing for a hearing or trial, and also get to know the barristers that work on the cases.

I also enjoy being able to see how a case develops from when the solicitor calls asking for assistance from a barrister to when it is heard in court.  

What are the challenges?

There are various challenges that I face, one being the ability to juggle the needs of the different barristers that I am allocated to look after. On some days there can be numerous barristers who need urgent assistance in one form or another and trying to prioritise which task is more urgent is sometimes difficult.

Another aspect I struggled with when I first started is getting to know how particular barristers like their tasks undertaken, as they all differ from one another, and can be particular about how they like the practice run. 

In what way is your degree relevant?

My degree taught me how to manage various tasks and prioritise in which order to undertake them to ensure I got everything that needed to be done completed by set deadlines. Being able to manage my time effectively and prioritise work is vital in my job.

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

When I joined chambers I started off in a junior clerk position, which involves the general day-to-day running around such as taking the barristers papers to and from court, delivering by hand and obtaining legal materials from various libraries for the barristers to use in court.

Since then I have progressed to a team leader's assistant, which means I am now more involved with the admin side of the role, and take care of tasks such as diary management and liaising with solicitors on a daily basis to ensure smooth running of the various cases the barristers are instructed on.

My career ambitions are to move up in rank in the clerks room. The hierarchy for where I work is senior clerk, team leader, team leader's assistants (which are ranked as number two and number three) and then junior clerks. Currently I am in a number three position, and my ambition is to become a number two and then eventually, years down the line, possibly become a team leader. 

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

  • Try to speak to someone who has done the job, if you can, or reach out to organisations such as ABC Chambers Solutions as they will be able to give you an insight into what is expected of you, and the different types of chambers you can work in, e.g. criminal, commercial, tax.
  • I would also recommend trying to set up work experience with a chambers so you are able to get a sense of how the clerks room works and whether it is the type of role that will suit you. I found the role physically challenging to start with as there is a lot of walking around and carrying documents to and from court, but the career prospects and the clerks room environment are second to none.

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