The life of a Canadian Fox scholar at 5 Essex Chambers

28 July 2022

Hi! My name is Julia Martschenko. I am a Canadian lawyer working as a Fox Scholar and have spent much of 2022 at 5 Essex Chambers. The Harold G. Fox Education Fund is essentially a legal cultural exchange – each year the scholarship sponsors two Canadian lawyers to spend time shadowing barristers in London while two members of the Inns of Court take up “articling” positions at top litigation firms in Toronto, Canada.

During the 10-month scholarship, I will rotate through four Chambers. Most recently, I have enjoyed sitting with Georgina Wolfe at 5 Essex Court. Georgina is recognised as a leading junior specialising in the areas of police law, public law, human rights and civil liberties, inquests and public inquiries, prison law, and malfeasance claims. 5 Essex Court was the first Chambers during my term where public law was a main focus. I really appreciated learning about government work as I have a primarily commercial background in Toronto.

Georgina’s current caseload features many public inquiries. It was interesting for me to see the range of inquiries that are underway over here. I joined her and Emma Price working on the Infected Blood Inquiry – a statutory Inquiry established to examine the circumstances in which men, women, and children treated by the NHS were given infected blood in the 1970s. This work was particularly interesting to me as I have a strong interest in health law litigation. During my career, I have yet to participate in an inquiry, and so approaching a matter from that lens was a new and fulfilling challenge. I learnt about the difficulties of inquiries which consider historic events and how to approach an inquiry where there are hundreds of thousands of documents to consider. I know that this experience will be tremendously useful upon my return back to Canada where we have a similar public inquiry system.

Another highlight of my time at 5 Essex Court was a day spent observing the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry with Catriona Hodge. This statutory inquiry is tasked with ensuring there is a public summary of the failings which occurred with the Horizon IT system at the Post Office leading to the suspension, termination, prosecution, and conviction of subpostmasters over 20 years. I was able to observe Catriona act as Junior Counsel to the Inquiry where she questioned several witnesses who were personally impacted by the events. Having the chance to watch live oral advocacy from an experienced barrister was extremely rewarding and provided me with valuable insights.

One thing that struck me about 5 Essex Court was the collegiality and support that permeated through the building. I was very warmly received by the clerks, barristers, and pupils through invitations to lunch, questions about my experience, and career guidance from Senior Clerk Mark Waller himself. While returning to working in person can be challenging, doing so at 5 Essex Court was easy thanks to this fantastic atmosphere. I could always count on days filled with many fun and interesting chats.

I am deeply appreciative of my time at 5 Essex Court and all of the fantastic people I met during my time there. Thank you so much for having me!

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