Procuring work

“It’s about time we organised a lavish chambers party,” said Slick today.

“Yes, because everyone knows that free champagne is the most cost-effective way of getting them to give you work,” said TheVamp sarcastically.

“Exactly,” said Slick without a hint of irony. “In my last chambers we always budgeted for two bottles of the finest vintage champagne per solicitor. It always paid for itself in the first set of instructions.”

“That is, if other chambers weren’t doing the same,” said BusyBody.

“Perhaps we should up our game and start offering corporate outings?” said Slick.

“I think you’ll find that OldSmoothie already organises regular visits to the football, opera or golf depending on the particular solicitors’ interests.”

“Even though the Bar Code of Conduct prohibits giving any form of present or commission to solicitors other than small promotional items,” said BusyBody.

“I think you’ll find that all of my entertainment is for private purposes and has nothing whatsoever to do with work,” said OldSmoothie.

“What? Meaning that if you also sleep with your female solicitors after taking them out then it’s somehow better?” said BusyBody.

“It’s very simple,” said OldSmoothie ignoring the dig. “I always make a point of never discussing work at any of those events.”

“Which is fortunate given that your juniors do all of your work for you,” said TheVamp.

“As far as I’m concerned this makes it a private function and nothing to do with work at all,” said OldSmoothie.

“As is the day’s pheasant shooting that you give each year to that judge you’re always appearing in front of,” said BusyBody.

“Exactly,” said OldSmoothie.

“Though I think you might find the Code itself is a little less forgiving,” said UpTights.

“But what if I was going out with a solicitor?” said TheCreep, now looking very worried that he might one day accidentally break the rules.

“I hardly think that’s likely Mr Cweepy Weepy,” said TheVamp patting him on the head.

“The thing is, where does it end? What is private and what is work?” he persisted.

“Ah, now there’s a question,” said OldRuin with a wry smile. “Not that it’ll stop me cooking Sunday lunch for my best friend this week, despite the fact that he’s a senior judge.”

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

January 25, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Barrister mating rituals

After their failed negotiation of last week, UpTights and OldSmoothie were against each other in court yesterday. OldSmoothie’s pupil was careful to take an accurate note of their learned last words on the case before they went into court and then he immediately posted it on Facebook. “You’re a stretched and gabbling shrew-faced old haridan UpTights,” said OldSmoothie.

To which UpTights apparently leant back like some sort of coiled spring before unleashing, “Can’t you do any better than that, OldSmoothie, you prattling, mangy, two-faced, fat, lickorous old git.”

“You’re a dried up plastic old scrag end.”

“And you my dear man are a maggot-pated clunch and a dirty old buck fitch.”

She’d obviously thrown in a new one since that slightly threw OldSmoothie and he replied, “A clunch and a buck fitch?”

To which UpTights replied, “That’s right. Look it up if you have to.”

Then without any warning OldSmoothie’s angry face suddenly turned into a huge smile and he put his arm around UpTights’ shoulders and said, “I really don’t know what I’d do without you UpTights.”

She immediately pulled away from this invasion of her oh so important personal space. But not before replying awkwardly and with as much of a smile as her stretched features would allow, “Love you too OldSmoothie.”

Nowt, as I’ve said before, so queer as folk. I mean, either they’re both starting to suffer Tourrette’s whenever they come within hearing distance of each other or they’re actually madly in love and insulting and degrading one another is just some sort of sado-masochistic mating ritual for ageing, bored and over-educated barristers. My money has always been on the latter.

December 1, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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I was telling Claire about the terrible performance of my consultant neurologist in a case I did yesterday. She replied, ‘My pupilmistress used to say that you should never trust experts. As she put it, the ‘x’ stands for the unknown factor and the ‘spurt’ is simply a drip under pressure.’

Then she smiled and added,
‘Though maybe it was nerves? After all, a neurologist can hardly avoid nerves in his line of work.’
‘Just like work for an accountant must be incredible taxing?’ I replied.
‘Exactly and crazy being a psychiatrist.’
‘Shocking to be an electrician.’
‘And foul to be a chicken-farmer.’

We were giggling now.
‘Backbreaking for an orthopaedic surgeon,’ I said.
‘Worse than pulling teeth to be a dentist,’ said Claire.
‘A complete grind,’ I replied.
‘You know,’ she went on, ‘I once had a dentist with a great sense of humour. He lived in a house called High Pulham and had a boat named Fylmacavity and a coat of arms with the motto Lucram per cariem, which apparently means “prosperity from decay”.’

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.

August 18, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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King of the pupils

With August now upon us, the Temple has been beset by a veritable plague of mini-pupils. Little worker ants strutting their stuff and cracking jokes about how stupid or thick this or that Law Lord is to have written this or that irrelevant judgment.

With all this activity, TheCreep has spotted an opportunity to make a name for himself by doing free lectures entitled ‘TheCreep’s guide to getting ahead at the Bar’ with a picture of himself in wig and gown pointing at the camera. As he said in the clerks room this morning as he put up another poster advertising his lectures.

‘They may seem irrelevant now but these little fledgling legal eaglets will be the ones passing us work when we’re all QCs. It’s time to invest in our futures BabyB.’

‘Yes,’ said TheVamp, ‘in the Liliputian kingdom of the mini-pupils, even the mini-est of barristers is king.’

August 4, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Amending the record

I gave OldSmoothie my note of his, er, case conference with BigMouth today. Basically it consisted of telling BigMouth that he should declare all the cash he’s received from his banker friend both to Parliament and probably also the taxman. However, he’d then gone on on to whisper that although that was his strict advice, it was of course up to BigMouth whether he wanted to follow it or not and of course, if he chose not to then OldSmoothie would still back him to the hilt.

From my very accurate note there was certainly no need to add in stage directions of nods and winks, since it was blindingly obvious what OldSmoothie was saying: “I’m covering myself by telling you this, but actually if I were you I’d try and wing it.”

“Why on earth did you write down every detail, BabyB?” he demanded. “You were there to take a note to protect me, not to implicate me.” He proceeded to delete the last half of my note before printing it off and handing it back. “There. That’s an accurate record of the advice I dispensed. The rest was simply two friends having a chin wag.”

“Oh.” I looked a little surprised and was definitely unsure as to what I should do. I certainly didn’t want to pick a fight with probably the most powerful person in chambers and that’s before you add a Tory MP into the mix. All the more so over something which was almost certain not to come out and anyway, it’s privileged, I figured a little uneasily.

“Excellent. Sign here BabyB.”

At that moment I had little choice but to sign my name and hope that the details of the meeting never came into question.

June 9, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Service industry

“I hate clients,” said Teflon as he arrived back into chambers after an obviously hard day in court.

“The world would be so much easier without them,” smiled TheVamp.

“Quite right,” said OldSmoothie. “No more whining on in conference, getting witness statements wrong and then complaining when they have to pay even though they lost.”

“And that’s just the solicitor clients,” said HeadofChambers with a chuckle.

“At least we don’t have to deal with the lay clients day to day. It’d be a complete nightmare,” said TheVamp.

A lot of nodding and agreement on that one.

“I mean, perish the thought,” said BusyBody sarcastically. “Having to take phone calls and explain how the case is progressing and all. It’d be simply beneath us.”

“BusyBody,” said OldSmoothie, “that’s the most sensible thing you’ve said in all of your time in chambers.”

June 2, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Paying for experience

HeadofChambers was telling us all in tea today that he had had a solicitor email him questioning how he could possibly justify charging £5,000 for a half an hour conference and asking for a breakdown.

His reply echoed an apocryphal bill once sent by a doctor and said:
1. Conducting the conference – £250
2. Knowing the answer to your problem due to over fifty years of legal experience – £4,750

May 5, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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In your dreams

‘I hate this job,’ said OldSmoothie. ‘Seems a far cry from my childhood dreams of becoming rich and then going into politics and becoming even richer.’

‘Such an idealistic youth you must have been,’ said BusyBody. ‘Though I have to admit that running personal injury claims is hardly the civil liberties campaigner I saw for myself either.’

‘Oh, come on,’ said TheBukser. ‘It’s not that bad. Though granted, I’d take being a novelist or maybe a professional surfer given the choice.’

‘I just wanted to be captain of England football team,’ I admitted with a smile. ‘Though unfortunately there was a bit more competition for that even than barristering.’

‘All I wanted to be when I was a child was a vet,’ said UpTights.

Everyone looked at her with incredulity and her face stretched into a smile as she responded,
‘Though as you can imagine fainting at the sight of blood and the fact that I hate animals proved to be insurmountable obstacles.’

Then OldRuin came forward and said quietly,
‘I know it might sound a little boring, but all I wanted to be was a barrister. Not a loud high-flying one or anything like that. Just a comfortably-off one with a practice which could keep my family and bring a few good friends along the way.’

Which was enough to silence any more of the whingeing.

April 28, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Getting ahead at the Bar

Unfortunately for TheCreep it seems that the mini-pupils have already sussed him out since a quick tour of the walls of the Temple will reveal that his posters have all been slightly defaced with the first ‘a’ in the word ‘ahead’ being deleted.

So rather than his earnest sounding lecture entitled ‘TheCreep’s guide to getting ahead at the Bar’, it now reads more like some sort of sex manual for wiglets. TheCreep has realised his folly but it’s too late and for every poster he takes down, ten more appear in its place.

People are also drawing in a wall over the bottom half of the poster and then adding a piece of TheCreep’s anatomy hanging over the wall in the style of the chad drawings you’d draw as kids. Then there’s a variety of slogans being added from the obvious ‘Wot no head?’ to ‘Wot no work?’ and ‘Wot no audience?’ to perhaps the most cruel of ‘Wot no friends?’

All that was left was for TheVamp to add when she saw TheCreep come into tea this afternoon,
‘I see you’re now doing a course on oral abilities, MrCweepyWeepy. Probably the most important skill you need as a barrister, wouldn’t you agree?’

April 21, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Beyond redemption

At chambers tea today BusyBody asked OldSmoothie, ‘Why are you always so rude to UpTights?’

‘Because she’s a calcified witch,’ said he replied without even blinking. ‘Her heart’s turned to stone and whatever soul she had wasn’t able to survive in the bitterness and bile that pumps through her veins.’

‘But you’ve got to admit that you simply enjoy being nasty,’ said TheCreep.

‘Oh do give it up, won’t you,’ said OldSmoothie. ‘You young ones are all the same. So full of wide-eyed hypocrisy that you don’t even realise that you fell off the cliff years ago and there’s no going back now. You can carp all you like but as sure the sun goes up and, in UpTights’ case, down one day in, er…’ he coughed, ‘…twenty years time, you’ll wake up and realise that you’ve turned into us, whether you like it or not.’

Then he looked at TheCreep and gave a cruel smile and pointed at him and said, ‘Although, that’s not to say you’re going to suddenly start growing, in case you’re wondering.’

By now he had an audience and he continued the lecture, ‘You’ve already set your trajectory. You just don’t realise it yet. You won’t until it’s far too late. Just like they used to warn you about the wind changing when you were a child. I mean whatever might be in those oh so earnest little hearts of yours you’re never going to be some sort of UN Goodwill Ambassador or win a Nobel Prize. You’re never going to climb Mount Everest or even simply live by the sea, get a dog and write a novel. So wake up kids and smell the stink of your lost dreams which left town when you signed up for law school and boarded the cop out I-want-to-be-rich train of hypocrisy.’

There was silence.

Immediately after chambers tea I was walking back to our room with OldRuin and he said, ‘Don’t you believe a word of what OldSmoothie says, BabyB. There’s always hope. Right up to the end and never let him tarnish those dreams with that terrible jaded cynicism that reflects only on him.’

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.

April 14, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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