Hello, I’m Sharon Lewis.
I’ve worked at HMCTS for the past 5 or 6 years.
Prior to this, I was a nurse. I think the skills I learned from that job have helped me here, particularly when it comes to understanding people.
What does a court clerk/usher do?
As an usher, I greet parties involved in legal proceedings and show them into the courtroom. I’m also a court clerk which covers a range of responsibilities. Both are public facing roles. I am often one of the first people court users see when attending our buildings.
I’m in charge of explaining court etiquette for those attending hearings as well as the day-to-day running of the courtroom. This includes checking equipment, making sure the sitting judge has the appropriate paperwork and recording the procedures once hearings start.
These roles have changed quite drastically since the pandemic began.
What does/did a typical day look like?
Before the pandemic, I arrived at court around 8.10am to log on to my computer and check the cases for that day, which judges were sitting, and other important information.
I’d then set up the courtroom for the day and ensure the people involved with my cases had arrived at court.
I take notes for hearings and facilitate communication between the judge and the legal parties, often before the case even enters the courtroom.
How has work changed for you during the pandemic?
My work is now very different. I was advised in March 2020 that I was extremely clinically vulnerable and had to shield. I haven’t been able to return to the court in person since. I don’t have that face-to-face contact with people at court, which can be quite hard. I help facilitate hearings remotely.
The technology has done a world of good. We can continue hearing cases, although we don’t get as much time with each party to explain things and check understanding.
Working remotely can be quite hard, but if anything, it’s shown me how important my work is in ensuring we can continue to deliver justice.
Recently, I also began logging files for a neighbouring court in Norwich. This is a side people don’t see – there’s a lot more depth to my role than people might realise.
What’s the best part of the job?
I genuinely enjoy my work and it’s nice to know I’m helping to make a difference to people who need the justice system. It might only be a tiny part of my day, but to them it can make such a difference – that’s the best part for me.
I’m not one to talk about personal achievements at work as I think it’s a team effort. I do feel my work is valued, particularly when judges ask to work with me by name.
What’s the hardest part of the job?
I enjoy all aspects of my job. The past year has been extremely challenging, and I’ve missed seeing the people I’m proud to call my colleagues. But overall, I enjoy the working relationships I share with the judges and with all our court users, and this has been even more important with remote working.
What about outside work?
Now I tend to use exercise as an escape from my work which has really helped me to clear my mind. I also enjoy baking and trying out new recipes.
Pre-pandemic I would do a lot of family bike rides with my husband and our kids, which I loved. Family is extremely important to me. We have movie nights at weekends to chill out and spend time together.
You can read more sessions like Sharon’s by following the HMCTS Twitter account.