Handling the client

I don’t know what it is about family law barristers but there’s a large number that seem to take the whole thing extremely personally. I say that after having had to endure such a case this morning. As I sat flicking through my papers in the robing room, the peace and tranquility was suddenly interrupted by what felt like a human whirlwind.

It was a male barrister about the same age as me and he rushed in with an air of great urgency and self-importance. Given that there were only two others in the room, it was then more than a little odd for him to shout out,

‘Who is the barrister representing Mrs Smith in the divorce hearing today?’

I indicated that it was me. ‘I think everything’s agreed,’ I said.

‘Far from it,’ he said. ‘I’m not at all happy about giving you all that money and I’m going to tell the judge in no uncertain terms.’

‘You mean your client’s not happy about giving my client all that money,’ I corrected before adding, ‘Have you seen the consent order?’

‘Of course I have,’ he said dismissively. ‘But it isn’t going to stop me telling the judge what for.’

Which is exactly what he did, much to the consternation of the judge who generally deals with personal injury cases and interrupted him with,

‘I don’t know where you usually practise but let me tell you very clearly that I don’t appreciate grandstanding in this court. All the more so when it has no purpose other than to vent the feelings of your angry client. Remember, it is your job to control the client just as it is my job to control you.’

There was silence followed by a, ‘but…’ which went no further after the judge looked at him and raised his eyebrow as if disciplining a young pup.

The barrister sat down and his client started poking him angrily in the back.
‘And may I add,’ said the judge. ‘That if your client isn’t happy with your performance that you might consider the point that you reap what you sow. Always keep a professional distance and never get emotionally involved with a case however much you might think it helps at the time.’

Another ‘but…’ followed and an even sterner looking eyebrow shut him up before the judge rubber-stamped the order and pointed towards the door.

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.

October 14, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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