Written by Eleanor Harris, June 2023
Walking through the doors on the first day, I was understandably nervous. I, however, quickly settled due to the welcoming nature of the office. After many smiling introductions, I was seated next to the Office Manager, Carl Clempner. He was immediately helpful and accommodating and I appreciate his work this week to make my experience as fulfilling as it has been.
Case Management system
The first day was a real insight into Olliers’ legacy in the criminal legal sphere. I was given particularly interesting cases to inspect on the case management system; this is where I first realised the true variation in case load at Olliers. Many of the cases were high-profile and I enjoyed navigating the many documents within the files to attempt to puzzle together the many facets of criminal proceedings conducted by the staff at Olliers.
On the second day of my internship, I had the privilege of shadowing David Philpott, a solicitor, in the Magistrate’s Court. The day was extremely busy, and I was in awe of the ability of David to think on his feet whilst still adequately meeting the many demands of being duty solicitor (including perfectly answering my persistent questions!). I was both enthused at the prospect of being able to complete work of this type myself in the future, and intrigued about the defendants themselves. I observed several client conferences in the cells before sentencing hearings, and the variation amongst the defendants represents an aspect of the criminal law that intrigues me – I never quite knew what to expect!
It was an interesting opportunity to imagine what would have happened, had these defendants not had legal representation. Without a duty solicitor there, they would have been navigating a complicated system without any advice as to which way was best to plead. This was the first opportunity I have ever had to witness a client weigh their options and decide upon a plea, following the measured advice given by David. Despite the unpredictability of the response of each client, David built a professional rapport with each and every one of them, and I could feel that there was an element of trust between the clients and himself.
DBS file & Client meeting
My third day involved exploring another aspect of the work conducted at Olliers. I was tasked by the DBS team to navigate a file and create a template letter to the DBS, requesting that client be removed from the barred list. Her record, that represented one mistake committed years ago, did not merit a ban from working from all vulnerable people. It was extremely interesting to explore this aspect of defence work, especially given that I had the opportunity to sit in the client meeting with Connor Brylczak, the DBS paralegal, the following day.
During this meeting with the client, it was enlightening to speak to someone who was so candid about the impact of having a conviction that prevented them from working with certain groups, especially once it became evident that the incident in question happened at a time that she was suffering from many circumstances beyond her control.
The Police Station process
I was excited by the prospect of attending the police station with a solicitor on call, and understand that these jobs appear as and when a client is arrested. I was, however, given an overview of the police station process by Helen Buxton. Her enthusiasm for her job served to make me more excited by the prospect of attending the station and advising a client pre-charge.
Bail hearing & final thoughts
My final day, excitingly, involved another visit to the Magistrate’s Court with David Philpott. It was interesting to watch as David navigated a breach of bail hearing, where the outcome was successful and instead of being kept on remand, the client was released on bail.
I have had a brilliant week at Olliers, and I want to thank everyone at Olliers for a fantastic experience. I have learnt more than I could express about the practical workings of the system, how to professionally ensure the outcome is beneficial to the client and about life in a criminal law firm. I feel inspired to continue pursuing a career in this aspect of the law.