Pupil barrister-to-be OccupyTheInns reveals some unlikely heroes as he advises Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students to think outside the box when developing their advocacy skills
Advocacy is about far more than words. It is also about presence. In this clip from the excellent Animalfightclubs, observe the way the cougar stakes out its territory and then – in a flash – attacks the wolf. Good advocates do exactly the same against their opponents, holding their gaze when they meet outside court until the other blinks and looks away, before using the psychological edge they have gained to triumph in front of the judge.
Speaking of cougars, I’m a big fan of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie Blair QC. Not only is she a very attractive older woman, but she’s a first class advocate. Cherie’s opening keynote at the women in business conference is 35 minutes long, but it’s worth listening to every second of it. The way she uses her gender should act as an inspiration to women seeking to pursue careers at the Bar – no mean feat. In this clip (see 2:30 – 3:16 below), Cherie brilliantly subverts gender norms, joking with the two men in the room in hilarious style.
I would rather hand back my pupillage than vote Tory, but it is also true that there are Conservatives who are people of integrity. While I disagree with many of the views of foreign secretary Hague, I consider him a decent man with exceptional gifts as a speaker. Not many 16 year-olds can hold a room like this. It is this level of precocious confidence that one must demonstrate to succeed at pupillage interview where you will face barristers many years your senior.
Confidence is one thing. Arrogance is another. Barristers of course need both. Few do this latter quality better than arguably the greatest manager to have ever graced this planet. In this clip below, ‘The Special One’ is faced by a setback (he is eating a custard cream when the interview begins), yet his innate self-belief enables him to recover the situation. All BPTC students will know that feeling of doom when what they are doing is not going well. In those situations, think of José Mourinho!
The Plan B for most BPTC students if they don't obtain pupillage is to become a paralegal and perhaps retrain as a solicitor. My Plan B was, quite literally, Plan B. Whenever I had a setback during the pupillage hunt, I would listen to rap artists such as Plan B, Professor Green and 50 Cent and remind myself why I began this journey in the first place. Those of you who have a way with words will be successful, rest assured my friends, rest assured.
OccupyTheInns graduated from the BPTC last summer, and was called to the Bar in July 2011. He will commence pupillage next autumn. There's more from OccupyTheInns here.