Book recommendation: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

Available from Amazon.

September 17, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Clothes make the man

‘I assume that you don’t intend to go to court like that BabyBarista?’ It was HeadofChambers.

‘Er, yes, that’s exactly what I’m about to do. Is there something wrong?’

‘Is there something wrong? Hmm, where to start?’ He took a deep breath and went on, ‘BabyBarista, I had the benefit of having been born looking like a barrister…’ You couldn’t be more right there, I thought. He then waved his hand theatrically and continued, ‘…but you on the other hand didn’t.’ He gave me one of his particularly patronising smiles before continuing, ‘However, fortunately for you, I intend to help.’

‘Hmm, help in dressing me up like like a pompous old fool stuck in the nineteenth century when believe it or not court hearings are now being tweeted and even the Tory Prime Minister knows what Converse trainers are…’ is what I’d have liked to have said. Instead I simply replied, ‘Oh.’

‘Yes, I’ve already talked to you about getting rid of that rucksack of yours and investing in a leather pilot bag. Clients will never respect a man with a rucksack.’

‘Oh.’

‘Then I see that recently you’ve taken to wearing shirts without double cuffs.’
‘It avoids the need for cufflinks,’ I replied.

‘That may be so but no opponent is ever going to take you seriously with cheap cuffs.’

‘Oh.’

‘And as for your slip on shoes and off the peg suit…’ He was at this point literally lost for words.

‘BabyBarista if you’re not careful, you’ll have fallen so low that people will…’ he hesitated as if he was going to deliver a terrible blow for which somehow I needed to be braced, ‘…people will think…’ another hesitation and then he spat out the words with an expression I imagine he has when he’s just sipped a wine which has gone off, ‘…people will think BabyBarista that you’re a solicitor.’

‘What was it Mark Twain said?’ smiled OldRuin. ‘Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.’

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.

September 16, 2014 · Tim Kevan · No Comments
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

September 15, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Weekend video: John Mortimer South Bank Show

September 13, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book recommendation: The Law Machine by Marcel Berlins and Clare Dyer

The authors explain and discuss how the justice system evolved, the way it operates – including vivid descriptions of the trial process – and how lawyers work. Revised and updated throughout for this fifth edition, THE LAW MACHINE surveys recent developments in the workings of justice and the outlook for the future.

Available from Amazon.

September 10, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Honour among er, barristers

With wars, terrorism, government cuts and warnings of imminent economic collapse, there’s at least one constant in this fragile world: that lawyers will always be arguing about their costs. Not just arguing but passionately putting forward their cases in a way rarely seen when their own cash isn’t involved.

Greed for lawyers is certainly good, particularly where they’ve perfected the modern form of alchemy by magically turning two human hours into six billable hours with the help of some new and sophisticated billing software designed with only one thing in mind: to stick it to the client.

But today, even this little bit of certainty in the world crumbled to nothing. You see, I was up against quite an old-fashioned barrister from another chambers and we’d argued tooth and nail about the outrageous sums being claimed by my solicitor SlipperySlope and his team of paralegals. The irony is that neither of us actually knows what goes on in a solicitors’ firm and so for all our jumping up and down in outrage and indignation respectively, we didn’t really have anything serious to offer. Just how Slippery likes it, he tells me.

But then we moved on to my own fee, which I’ll admit was ridiculously high for the type of case we were doing. Now this was something my opponent was utterly qualified to be questioning. The judge turned to him and said, ‘What do you have to say about MrBabyBarista’s er, generous fee?’ raising an eyebrow as he said this.

My opponent looked over to me and then directly at the judge and said simply, ‘Your Honour, in all my years at the Bar I have prided myself in never yet having questioned the reasonableness of the fee of a fellow member of the Bar. Quite ungentlemanly in my view.’

The judge at first looked surprised and then beamed a huge smile. ‘Quite right too. I always found it a terrible bore when people tried to chip away at my fees when I was practising. It’s hard enough for barristers these days without trying to do each other down at every opportunity. I’m heartened to see that such an enlightened approach being taken.’

I was heartened too although I doubt very much that his privately paying client will feel the same way when he receives the final order in the post.

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.

September 9, 2014 · Tim Kevan · No Comments
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons

qccartoon
This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including The Queen’s Counsel Lawyer’s Omnibus. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

September 8, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Weekend video: Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation

September 6, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book recommendation: Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher

Letters of Note is a collection of over one hundred of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the seismically popular website of the same name – an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people. From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter, to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower; from the first recorded use of the expression ‘OMG’ in a letter to Winston Churchill, to Gandhi’s appeal for calm to Hitler; and from Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan, to Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable job application letter, Letters of Note is a celebration of the power of written correspondence which captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives. Including letters from: Zelda Fitzgerald, Iggy Pop, Fidel Castro, Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Hicks, Anaïs Nin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Amelia Earhart, Charles Darwin, Roald Dahl, Albert Einstein, Elvis Presley, Dorothy Parker, John F. Kennedy, Groucho Marx, Charles Dickens, Katharine Hepburn, Kurt Vonnegut, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Emily Dickinson and many more.

Available from Amazon.

September 3, 2014 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Car crash barrister

There’s a young barrister who’s fast becoming notorious around the Temple as the worst barrister ever. His pleadings are embarrassing and his performances in court have the same rubber-necking attraction as a terrible car crash playing itself out in slow motion. Today, TheBusker had the pleasure of being against him and he was telling the story in chambers tea afterwards.

First off, the particulars of claim had been so badly drafted that his defence merely said: ‘The claim is insufficiently pleaded and inadequately drafted and for these reasons the defendant simply denies the claim in its entirety. In addition, the defendant mentions out of courtesy both to the claimant and the court that the document contains the following spelling and grammatical mistakes…’ There then followed a list of over thirty such errors.

At court, the young barrister has a complete inability to ask questions of his own witnesses without at the same time trying to lead them into the answers he would like. When he started off, TheBusker held up a placard which read: ‘If you want to lead, I would like to cross-examine you.’ This completely flustered the barrister. So much so that eventually the judge asked to see the placard. When it was shown to him he smiled and commented, ‘A very fair point MrBusker.’

As TheBusker told the story, TheVamp chuckled and said, ‘He reminds me of one of those yellow signs the police put out after a crime has occurred which asks for witnesses. I once saw a blank one sitting on a pavement at Cambridge Circus. As if the area was so notoriously bad that the sign represented a crime waiting to happen.’

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.

September 2, 2014 · Tim Kevan · No Comments
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