Judge Shadowing

This blog was authored by Law student Eunice Mendonca.

"In December 2022 I had the pleasure of spending one day of work experience shadowing Judge Levett at Ipswich Crown Court.  As a Law student with no experience in crime, the experience was a revelation.  The experience allows you to see 'behind the scenes' of the criminal justice system and the workings of the court, including advocacy in action.  

I sat beside Judge Levett as he presided over the trial of a defendant accused of murder!  The view of the court was amazing, and I could hear so much sitting on the bench.  It was interesting to see the contrast in styles between opposing lawyers too. After an hour, the sentence was read out and the defendant was convicted of 15 years in prison. 

A new trial started in the afternoon where I was able to see how the jury are selected, and the responsibility which they have throughout the trial. 

I knew straight away that I would enjoy sitting in crime, and the experience gave me confidence in my decision to pursue a judicial career.  Watching the trial was really interesting, and the knowledge that Judge Levett and the barristers showed during the case made me very enthusiastic to listen and learn more in a court room setting. 

Judge Levett was extremely kind to me and answered all my questions.  He told me how he became a judge and spoke about the good and the bad aspects of the job.  Something I really valued from this experience was the chance to discuss with His Honour what he thought it meant to be a good advocate.  It is clearly crucial that a barrister understands how to be engaging and persuasive in an effective manner in court.  Judges see examples of both excellent and poor advocacy on a regular basis.  

Not only are the judges busy when they are hearing cases, they are also very busy when preparing for them, and have lots of support staff who assist them outside of the courtroom, all of whom are very friendly.   

I read 4 cases, heard 1 sentence, listened to a jury verdict, and watched the beginning of a new case!   

I am so thankful for this opportunity; I truly enjoyed it and have learned so much. This experience will stay with me forever.  The whole experience reaffirmed my interest in becoming a lawyer.  

I would urge anyone interested in pursuing a career in the judiciary to make use of the shadowing scheme, even if you have considerable experience in the area of law that you are hoping to sit in.  Being a law student, it is easy to lose yourself in theory, but bringing the academic study to life and discussing the cases with the judges was a fantastic opportunity and one I will never forget."