How not to do pupillage with new recruit PupilBrag (and a new picture by Alex Williams)

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Within only a few weeks of starting his pupillage, one of the pupils has already garnered quite a reputation as a show-off. Not a show-off in a theatrical, maybe kind of charming but just a bit too much energy sort of a way either. More of a show-off in an insecure, in your face and too much information thank you very much type of way. “Didn’t I mention, I got a first from Oxford, don’t you know?” “Yes, I was a child genius on the violin, don’t you know?” Or even to non-barristers, “Oh, yes, I’m a barrister, don’t you know,” said in a tone that barrister is the biggest word in the whole of the English language. The latter was a line he did in fact try to use on TheVamp in a bar recently before he realised that not only was she a barrister but worse than that she was in his chambers and many rungs above the grade of “BabyBarista pond life” as she politely described his pupillage status.

But hey, each to their own, I say. That is, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s triggered not only the nickname PupilBrag (Don’tYouKnow having been the other alternative) but also a craze around chambers for mimicking his voice, his mannerisms and above all the brags themselves. So whereas usually people wouldn’t mention if they were appearing in the Court of Appeal, it’ll now be “Haven’t you heard? I’m in the Court of Appeal today, don’t you know?” Or, “I’ve just earned five figures for doing virtually nothing, don’t you know?” Actually, this isn’t too out of character for OldSmoothie but for most barristers it’s causing them much hilarity finally being able to shake off their professional humility and tell the world how brilliant they are. All in the name of irony, naturally.

But this has now led various members of chambers into a spin-off of mimicking this trait itself. “I’m in Slough County Court, don’t you know,” or “My practise appears to have completely dried up, don’t you know.” Except of course, the only people taking up this double or sometimes even triple irony (barristers, huh?) are those who in fact have the most successful practices and possess sufficient self-confidence (arrogance?) to take part in what is in reality a sort of barrister version of the humble brag.

All of which was being discussed in chambers tea the other day.
“If you always remember that almost everything’s vanity when it comes to barristers then you really won’t go very far wrong,” commented HeadofChambers.
“The thing is, with lawyers held in such low esteem these days, I never even admit to being a barrister,” said UpTights.
“These days?” said HeadClerk.
“So what do you say?” asked OldSmoothie. “That you lie for a living?”
“Actually, more that I twist the truth for a living if you must know,” said UpTights. “Make people see the world in a different light.”
“I always say that I dress up in silly clothes and perform on demand, just like a clown,” said TheBusker.
“I listen to other people’s secrets,” said BusyBody.
“I flirt with judges,” said TheVamp.
“I’m a profession orator,” said TheCreep, as always completely failing to get even the first layer of any of the humour.
“Well, I always say that I help people along their bumpy ride through life. Help them with their troubles and pick them up when they’re down,” said OldRuin. “With the help of the ICLR, of course.”
“I wonder how you’d describe the ICLR online in those terms?” mused TheVamp.
“Liberating people’s stories from down the ages off the dusty shelves of our law libraries,” said OldRuin.

November 13, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR