What are Lawyers really like?

24 08 2009

Now, if this doesn’t provoke a whole heap of comments, no doubt mainly derogatory, nothing will.  This being the silly season it seems like an ideal time to ask the question.  And I’m not going to tell you the answer. Instead I suggest you read Tim Kevan’s new book “Baby Barista and the Art of War”, just published by Bloomsbury and which is based on his blog in The Times.  Tim is also a barrister, albeit he is currently taking a break from practising in favour of surfing in Devon and walking his dog.   

It’s a thoroughly amusing read and should be required reading for anyone contemplating a career at the Bar (or as a solicitor, we don’t come out too well either).  It’s the story of a “Pupil” (newly-qualified) barrister training in Chambers trying to outwit and outmanoeuvre the three other pupils in the hunt for the holy grail at the Bar; a tenancy in Chambers.  The characters are all vividly drawn and credible; the situations the characters find themselves in all give a real flavour of litigation from the side of the practitioner.    There’s plenty to amuse both lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

It’s not just a comedy though.  He also touches on big issues such as the independence of the Bar which will become much more of a live issue now that solicitors and barristers can go into partnership together since the introduction of Legal Disciplinary Partnerships last April.  For instance,

“For all their supposed independence, most barristers seem to live in a state of complete paranoia and spend so much time kowtowing to solicitors that their independence is worth even less than their pride”

You’ll also read the best explanation of why you shouldn’t sign up for a no win no fee agreement to fund your case, but instead get legal expense insurance in advance so that the lawyers don’t start worrying about how they are going to get paid.  No win no fee agreements do create a conflict of interest between lawyer and client and the question of how they (we) get paid becomes “a big fat ugly screaming beast jumping up and down on their head”.  Too true.

It’s a good holiday read – list price is £11.99, but considerably cheaper from Amazon.

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