Brass neck

OldSmoothie popped into my room yesterday afternoon.

“BabyB, I need a little assistance for a conference I have tomorrow morning. The papers arrived a week ago and I’ve had my pupil make a note of the main issues. I just need you to go through and sort out the wood from the trees.”

“I’m in court tomorrow morning,” I replied.

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ve already taken the liberty of asking HeadClerk to pass on your case to someone else. Hope you don’t mind.”

Gee thanks, I thought. Goodbye to a £700 pound brief fee so that I can be chief dogsbody for the pompous one.

“Oh,” was all I managed by way of reply.

“That’s great, BabyB. You’re a star. The papers are in my room. Just leave the note on my desk.”

“Oh,” I said.

“I’m off for drinks with, er, a solicitor now but I’ll see you at the conference.”

With which he was gone. Which left me to go and check out what the damage would be in terms of work to do. Though not even I had anticipated that I would find twelve lever arch files and a fifty page ‘note’ from the pupil. Hmm, some note and it wasn’t until about 3am that I finally struggled home to bed having left a two page summary for OldSmoothie on his desk.

This morning, I struggled into chambers half an hour before the conference was due to start and OldSmoothie still hadn’t arrived. The clients came on time and were shown into the conference room and then about fifteen minutes later OldSmoothie finally stormed into his room, picked up my note and a couple of files and rushed straight into the conference followed by myself and the over-worked pupil.

He sat down at the head of the table and without even flinching looked at the client and said, ‘So, take me through the facts.’ He paused and then, in his usual assured and mellifluous tone he went on as if he didn’t have a care in the world: ‘And just for these purposes treat me as if I haven’t even read the papers.’

OldSmoothie’s fee for the conference was £10,000 and the amount he finally agreed to pay to me was £250 for which he said I “should be grateful”. As for the pupil, he got nothing extra on the basis that he had received a practical lesson in “how to manage a workload” which OldSmoothie described (without any hint of irony) as…”priceless”.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister practising at the English Bar, written by barrister and writer Tim Kevan. For more information and to read posts from the last few years visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

December 3, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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