Ilse

I am way too old to have any illusions about the fact that I am a very strange specimen indeed. 

I'm the least social animal I know; in fact, I absolutely hate socialising.

At social events, I'm that one. The person who either says something utterly stupid or cannot think of a single thing to say. The one who can hardly wait to leave, and spends the entire time waiting for the first person to leave so that I am not considered too rude.

Yet I totally love my work. I consider myself most fortunate to be able to assist people at the lowest moments of their lives. Advocating on behalf of the innocent, the vulnerable and the less fortunate is my oxygen. I relish putting forward successful arguments during skirmishes with obdurate police officers in police stations and tricky prosecutors in Court. 

So the idea of staying at home 365/24/7, only seeing my lovely husband and being able to work at least 18 hours a day is my idea of heaven on earth.

Until 2020, I never imagined that this could and would become a reality.  Suddenly, I was the world-class hermit who had it all! 

I escaped London just in time before lockdown and joined my spouse (who permanently lives and works in France) at our place next to a pond in middle-of-nowhere Brittany.

Since then I have remotely represented hundreds of detainees during their police interviews. I have further represented umpteen defendants during their hearings at Magistrates' Courts and Crown Courts via Court Video Platform. The contacts saved in my phone have in the past year more than doubled due to the large number of mobile numbers of police officers, Magistrates' Courts' cells and Court Video Platform hosts I've added. 

I now consider myself an expert, when addressing the Court, in pausing just long enough for the feedback to die down before starting a new sentence, both to ensure that those I am addressing had clearly heard what I had said and that I don't tie my brain in an echoing knot.

However, pure work situations (police interviews, Court hearings and client meetings) are the only times when I join video confidently and eagerly. Add even the slightest element of a more social nature, and I turn off video like a tortoise withdrawing its head into its shell. Over the past year, my ever tolerant colleagues in criminal litigation have had to become used to me being the only fee earner in our team meetings who 99.9% of the time does not turn on their camera. 

All of this is now coming to an end, and I returned to London a short time ago.  With Boris threatening to close the French/UK border "very shortly" and Macron simultaneously pondering a third French lockdown on the one hand; and the Lord Chief Justice announcing that he expects advocates to start returning to Courts in person as well as the new Duty Solicitor rotas commencing on 1 April 2021 on the other, I had little choice. 

On my arrival back to London, I was subjected to a 10 day quarantine. This was both a curse and a blessing, really, as these were my last few days of not having to see a single soul (apart from various delivery drivers, of course).

I will soon have my first jab, return to throwing my weight around in person at police stations and Courts and working hard at expanding my list of excuses to avoid social situations.

As I've said, I know and would be the first to agree - I am indeed a very strange specimen!