Welcome to PanicStricken

Poor, sweet PanicStricken. She was in the clerks’ room today trying to hawk around one of her hospital pass cases on any unsuspecting barrister in the vicinity. The problem is that the number of those unsuspecting has reduced considerably in recent months, due in no small part to the fact that it’ll mean a day in court without being paid which is of course a barrister’s worst nightmare.

HeadClerk tried to give her a hand. “Come on. Somebody…anybody? Just as a favour to SharpPractice and his firm. They’ve given chambers a lot of work over the years.”

“Don’t I just know it,” whispered TheVamp.

BusyBody was more interested in PanicStricken’s welfare. “Have they given you a training contract yet?”

“It looks to me like they haven’t even given her a lunch break, never mind a contract,” said TheVamp.

“They’ve offered me one lots of times but it always seems to be put off with the mention of these being hard times.”

“You should report them to the Law Society,” said BusyBody.

“Right,” said HeadofChambers, “because that wouldn’t lead SharpPractice to invent an excuse for making her redundant.”

“And then I’d have to admit defeat to my family,” said PanicStricken.

“But surely you have some employment rights?” said BusyBody.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “They’ve got me on a self-employed contract and have even insisted that I work part-time in a local burger bar just so to avoid their being accused of being my sole employer.”

“I’m sorry to have to say it,” said UpTights, “but that firm is like some kind of an abbatoir for budding legal careers. I’ve seen so many wonderful, bright-eyed young people go in with such high aspirations. Lambs to the slaughter. I’d love to see someone shut them down.”

Now PanicStricken really did look worried. “Please don’t do that,” she said. “I know it’s bad but it’s even worse out there in the open market at the moment.”

“No, I’m afraid it’s about time someone read him the Rio Act,” said UpTights. “It’s just not good enough in the modern world to treat someone so abominably.”

Those of us who have been her pupil raised our eyebrows a little but said nothing. Instead, HeadofChambers said, “I used to know a judge who would amuse himself by literally reading a copy of The Riot Act 1714 to counsel who irritated him. I do wonder whether he was one of the reasons that they eventually repealed it in 1973.”

By which point the momentary attention of chambers had been distracted away to its usual academic trivia. PanicStricken took her chance and left the brief with HeadClerk in the name of one of the as yet unsuspecting pupils.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information visit and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

July 12, 2011 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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