Day 131, week 27: OldHand

Went off to court with my new pupilmistress UpTights this morning. Unlike TheBoss, she hardly ever settles a case at court on the basis that “We’re paid to fight, not settle.” However, it’s almost as if she’s unable to undertake a negotiation, as the way she treats her opponent’s case is as rigid as her manner. Quite a contrast to TheBoss, who would sidle up to opponents and suggest something like: “Don’t suppose we can get rid of this and be back in Chambers for lunch do you?”

UpTights, on the other hand, told her opponent today: “There’s no point talking if you’re not prepared to look at this case sensibly.”

“Well, quite,” said the other side’s barrister. Let’s call him OldHand. He clearly knew UpTights and had decided that the best strategy was to wind her up. He leaned in a little too close for her liking, given her “personal space” issues and continued, “Though I’m sure you’ll take your client’s instructions if I do make an offer.”

UpTights moved away from OldHand and replied: “A little space please . . . Of course I’d take instructions. But I really don’t think there’s any point talking further.”

After this, OldHand needled her further by getting his pupil to come over and make an offer. “Can’t he be bothered to come over here and tell me himself?” she said. “No he can’t,” the pupil answered, obviously having been briefed what to say. The offer itself was ridiculously low one and only served to irritate UpTights further. The pupil made it worse by following with "[OldHand] says that if you don’t accept by the start of the hearing, it will be withdrawn.”

“Well, you can tell [OldHand] . . .”

“. . . and he also said to tell you that he looks forward to hearing what your client has to say about the offer.” Then the pupil turned on his heels.

It only got worse when we went into court. OldHand started called UpTights “Mrs” rather than “Ms”, which though she didn’t correct him, clearly grated, particularly when he started mispronouncing her name as well. He also took two extremely weak points at the start of the hearing which left UpTights even more jumpy and impatient than usual. It only took a couple of hours of this before UpTights finally snapped at the judge.

“With respect, Your Honour, if you read the witness statement of the Claimant you will see . . .”

“Are you suggesting that I haven’t read the witness statements?”

“Of course not, Your Honour . . .”

UpTights by this point couldn’t help herself, and during OldHand’s provocative submissions she started shaking her head and muttering, “No, no, no.”

OldHand stopped mid-flow and said to the judge, “I’m sorry, Your Honour, but it seems my learned friend Mrs [Uptights] wishes to address you early.” Then he sat down.

Your opponent is right. I too find your constant interrupting and muttering extremely irritating and would be grateful if you would refrain from it in future.”

UpTights was speechless. She nodded angrily at the judge before OldHand stood up, smiled over at her and continued.

At that point we were done for.

April 5, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 19 Comments
Posted in: Uncategorized

19 Responses

  1. LawDent - April 9, 2007

    Nice one BabyBarista.
    Looking forward to future posts.

  2. LawDent - April 9, 2007

    Fantastic blog.
    Looking forward to future posts.
    All the best.

  3. BabyBarista - April 9, 2007

    Thanks LawDent. Your comments are much appreciated.

  4. mad about babybarista - April 9, 2007

    it is brilliant- no wonder the times want it on their site.

  5. BabyBarista - April 9, 2007

    Again, comments much appreciated.

  6. David Giacalone - April 9, 2007

    BabyB, How did such a bright young lawyer wind up in a Chambers filled with such ninnies? Did you fail to apply yourself while studying the law, or at university? Your stateside fans would love to know more about the selection process for getting into pupillage.

  7. BabyBarista - April 9, 2007

    Thanks for your kind comments David. You might find one of my early posts about pupillage of some assistance: Suffice it to say that it’s not a lot of fun at present. A battle of the baby barristers all seeking that one elusive tenancy in Chambers. By the way, like the haikus on your site at f/k/a.

  8. aLs - April 9, 2007

    Good post. Congrads on the new home.

  9. Troy - April 9, 2007

    Congrats on your move to the Times,
    keep up the great storyline.

  10. Charon QC - April 10, 2007

    Scala Caeli – The ladder of heaven… BabyBarista..
    Enjoy reading the blog… well done on the move… good stuff!

  11. Mike - April 10, 2007

    Congratulations BabyB – are you going to jack it all in at the end of your pupillage and work for The Times?

  12. BabyBarista - April 10, 2007

    Thanks for all the comments.
    Anonymous Law Student: On reading your blog, I say take the clerkship and avoid the real world of work for as long as you can.
    Charon QC: Like the podcasts you did last week.
    Mike: I’m not planning on having to jack it all in after pupillage!

  13. Legal Beagle - April 10, 2007

    Congratulations on your move! Your blog really is a great read. Thanks for including me in your links list – I have given your blog a long-overdue link from mine.
    Legal Beagle

  14. BabyBarista - April 10, 2007

    Thanks Legal Beagle. Your story about the pupil in your Chambers called Ally raised a smile. Comes as no surprise. Anyway, maybe the times are changing. I noticed an article saying they’re about to get rid of wigs for most hearings. Not a moment too soon in my view (though I have to admit to a sneaking pleasure in having been a part of the old tradition, despite myself.)

  15. lo-fi - April 10, 2007

    Congrats on the move. The book deal can’t be far off 🙂

  16. Karen - April 10, 2007

    I’ve just found this on the Times and it made me laugh out loud, many times. I look forward to coming back and reading the back issues until I’m fully up-to-date. It’s a great addition to the Times… compelling reading. Karen, P.S. I think UpTights works here…

  17. BabyBarista - April 10, 2007

    Lo-Fi Librarian: Thanks for the comment. particularly like the tips on yor own blog.
    Karen: Thanks also. You are not the first to suggest that UpTights works in your office. Seems she works in a lot of offices or there are a lot of people very similar to her.

  18. David Giacalone - April 10, 2007

    BabyB, I just read here in the Times Online that there are only 550 pupillages for the 1800 students who pass the Bar Vocational Course. Another article today says some want to reduce the number of people passing the BVC — purportedly to increase access to all social classes and reduce the percentage of elite schoolers who become barristers. Does this logic make any sense to you? Is the point to screen out upper-classers who get selected for pupillages despite barely passing the BVC?

  19. Tails - April 10, 2007

    Very interesting and amusing blog, thanks!