Put out to pasture

“Ah, Mr Wheaton,” said HeadClerk today. “I have a possession hearing for you in Lambeth.”

There was silence in the clerks room as the other barristers passing through took in the full implications of what was being said. The aged John Wheaton looked distraught. You could tell that something very serious had just been indicated in that short sentence. He made an effort to raise a smile and said,
“Excellent. I always used to enjoy possession hearings. What’s on the brief?”

“£50, Sir,” said HeadClerk, looking away as he said it. For a man who prided himself most of all on bringing in large fees for his barristers, this was clearly a matter of great shame. “You’re against one of the pupils,” he added.

As we all quickly retreated from the scene, one of the pupils turned to OldSmoothie and asked, “What was that all about? Why the sad faces?”

“Young lady, in some chambers it’s pleas in mitigation on careless driving. In others it’s infant settlements. But in this chambers it’s possession hearings.”

“What is?” she persisted.

“You remember in the old episodes of Tarzan where elephants would slink off to the mythical graveyard to die? Well, that’s in effect what a possession hearing in Lambeth is for a barrister’s practice. It’s the snake to our professional ladders. The go directly to jail card. You know, do not pass go, do it collect £200. Literally.”

“Though it’s not exactly like getting fired from Lehman brothers,” said HeadofChambers. “Since if you’re lucky you’ll have built up a sizeable aged debt which will slowly trickle in over the next few years.”

“That is, if you’re lucky enough to have an aged debt,” said UpTights.

“Which makes it perhaps the only time in your career when you’re grateful for solicitors having been slow at paying,” smiled TheVamp.

“It’ll come to us all in time,” said Teflon gravely.

“But why the sombre faces,” said OldRuin. “I’ve always enjoyed the idea that my professional life will end with the same types of cases with which it started.”

“In my beginning is my end,” said TheBusker.

“In fact,” continued OldRuin, “my early cases were some of the least stressful and most enjoyable of my whole career.”

“Maybe so,” said TheCreep. “But it’s no good having fun if you’re getting paid a pittance.”

“One thing you’ll discover with age,” said OldRuin, “is that money becomes less and less relevant. Instead you realise that it’s time which is our greatest currency. Indeed, I spent much of my career chasing around after bigger and more lucrative cases and as I look back I realise that the sole aim was to give myself more time.”

He paused before smiling, “Time, in fact, somewhat ironically, to be able to do the cases I’d always enjoyed doing early on in my career.”

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

April 22, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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