The listening barrister

There’s a pupil in chambers at the moment who I can only call PipSqueak. Not just on account of her lack of height but more due to the fact that she simply can’t stop talking. Every time she makes a point she stands on her tiptoes and er, well, squeaks.

No other way to describe it really. Kind of a self-satisfied little noise, but a squeak nonetheless. Sometimes she even jumps into the air slightly as she does it as if she’s so delighted with her own cleverness that she really can’t keep it in. Suffice to say that she doesn’t exactly have the best odds to be taken on as a tenant in the book being run by one of the clerks. Luckily for her TheBusker is about to become her pupilmaster.

‘The thing is,’ he said to me yesterday. ‘I know most people would just sit by and watch her hang herself. But that’s not really the point of pupillage as far as I see it.’

‘So what do you propose?’ I asked.

‘Well I don’t think it’ll be easy. She seems to think that all that a barrister needs is to be able to talk a lot, whereas it’s actually the complete opposite.’

‘So what would you say is the most important skill then?’ I asked.

‘Listening. Simple as that. To your client, to the judge, to the other side’s witnesses. Then there’s your instructing solicitor, your head clerk, everyone in fact. They’re giving you clues all the time as to what they want from you. Once you start hearing those clues then it’s easy. Just pick each one up and run with it.’

‘Sounds like you might have a task on your hands,’ I said.

‘The thing is, I only think she talks so much because she’s nervous and insecure,’ he said. ‘I just need to instil a little self-confidence and explain that less is always more when it comes to speaking and the silences will hopefully follow.’

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 Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

December 23, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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