Friday, 21 November 2008

The Barristers

I think it best to reserve full judgement on this until the series is complete, but so far I'm not impressed. I am not convinced the fly on the wall doc will do the profession any favours. The chap in Birmingham , I thought, came across as too aware of the cameras to give a normal account of what goes on, and resembled to some extent a wanna be on Britain's Got Talent. I also thought the students came across as a bit dense, I mean how hard can anyone find a disposable bbq to master? My understanding is that the aim of this series is to help in the understanding of the Bar, and dispel beliefs that its a profession still stuck in the dark ages and full of fat cats making lots of money. I'm not entirely sure that this can ever be achieved with extended footage of an Inn of Court, complete with lots of banging of sticks, eating lavish dinners, standing up and toasting of the Queen and Domas. The write up on the telly page of this mornings Metro summarised tonight's programme as following students in their quest for a "training contract"! I think this in itself illustrates how the point may have been missed.
In all fairness those who took part in the programme were very brave to put themselves on the line, and be opened up for the likes of me to criticise. I know I would never have done it. I will be interested to see how things pan out in the remaining episodes, and who succeeds.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Honeymoon is Over

I have now completed 4 weeks, and am really enjoying it. So far my days have consisted of pitching up at whichever court promises to be the most interesting that day, finding the barrister I'm to follow and taking notes during conferences and court. After the court day ends I head back to Chambers in order to make myself available to whoever wants me to read through stuff and note down the main points, type up work or carry out some photocopying. All in all it has not been particularly demanding, and has been a gentle introduction to life at the Bar. This however is all set to change -my Pupilmistress has now fully taken me under her wing!
My PM is lovely [if a little demanding], and I have no doubt that she will teach me very well. She is extremely thorough and very knowledgeable. Also, it makes such a difference for me to be able to read the papers and get a clear picture of what the case is about. This weekend, for the first time, I have been set some research homework, which I better go and do.
One thing that has struck me very clearly since starting is the concern all independent practitioners have about the future of the Bar, particularly within the field of crime. We are all aware of the changes in the pay scheme for such work, but I for one was unaware of the gravity of the situation. Most criminal matters I have watched have had at least one Higher Court Advocate conducting it, rather than instructed counsel. It appears to me that the reality is a fused profession, even if, allegedly, that was never the intention. This is causing a severe lack of work at the most junior end of the bar, and it seems that this dismal state of affairs will continue for the foreseeable future. It is not the best time to be joining the profession, and I fear this will count against me when the time comes for my tenancy application to be considered. My plan though, if at all possible, is to develop a truly mixed practice and hope luck is on my side.
No doubt most of you will be aware that the documentary entitled "The Barristers" starts at 9pm on Friday on BBC2. I am looking forward to it.