Master Clark, Rolls Building, Royal Courts of Justice

I was born and lived in New Zealand (attending a non-selective state school) until I was 16, when my family moved to the UK.  I applied successfully to university where I did an undergraduate degree in philosophy and psychology.  This was followed by a part-time postgraduate degree in philosophy at Birkbeck College, while teaching A-level Chemistry.

I decided to become a barrister because it involved the skills I enjoyed when studying philosophy: conceptual analysis, and identifying flawed arguments.  I joined a chambers in Lincoln’s Inn which did intellectual property law and a wide range of chancery work.

I applied initially for a fee-paid Deputy Master appointment out of interest, having enjoyed sitting on the Bar Disciplinary Panel.  As a judge, I found it very satisfying to be working towards the just and fair result in the case; whereas as a barrister I was working towards the best result for my client.  This made me consider applying for the full-time role when it next came up.

I found the selection process quite unfamiliar.  There is, however, a huge amount of useful information about it on the JAC website.  The selection day, when you are interviewed by a 3-person panel, is particularly challenging.  It requires very thorough preparation. In particular, you need to be ready to give specific detailed examples to show each of the competencies specified for the role. If you do not have any judicial experience, think about how your skills in other areas (e.g. as a school governor or trustee; or as a mediator) are transferable to the role.  I recommend practising the interview with a friend or a professional consultant.

The full-time role has fulfilled my expectations.  It is a mixture of “practical justice”, and high-level legal analysis.  Most of the cases we deal with are worth over £½ million and often many millions, or even billions of pounds.  There is a huge variety in our work, across a wide range of legal areas, and that is very stimulating.  It is important work, and this brings its own pressures, but also makes it very rewarding.  To do the job well, you need to be hard working and intellectually energetic.

I particularly enjoy trials which Masters now do regularly: for a few days, you enter into the detailed lives of other people in a way you never do in everyday life. I also enjoy the analytical exercise of pulling together all the evidential threads to reach a conclusion.

We are a group of 6 Chancery Masters and have an excellent supportive relationship amongst ourselves and with Insolvency and Company Court Judges, who are on the same corridor in the Rolls Building.  There is always someone you can run a tricky point by!  The Rolls Building itself is a modern well-equipped building with excellent IT, and we are very lucky to have very hard working and supportive staff. 

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