Lawyerly advice to pupil barristers: ‘Imagine the judge is slightly hard of hearing and a bit daft’

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By Polly Botsford on

Words of wisdom (and a few poetic metaphors) for fresh-faced practitioners

A West Midlands-based lawyer has revealed on Twitter how he believes newbie barristers should: “imagine the judge is slightly hard of hearing, bored, and a bit daft” when conducting themselves in court.

Paul Nicholls, who practices as a solicitor but is also a qualified barrister, told his followers to elevate their voice and talk “slower than you think you need”.

Nicholls’ comments are just a few of the many top tips that newbie barristers and solicitors can read on Twitter this week, following a leading legal Twitterati, Gordon Exall’s, civil law specialist at Leeds’ Zenith Chambers and London-based set Hardwicke, call for “hints, advice, words of wisdom for aspirant and newly minted practitioners in the art & science of law” from his more than 10,000 followers.

Trending with #lawlifeforU, Exall has been inundated with illuminating responses including wise words from The Secret Barrister who advises pupils to: “Be kind to people.”

Whereas Adam Wagner, human rights barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, gets metaphorical:

Not all lawyers agree with Nicholls’ slow-talk tactic. Alex Chandler, a barrister at family law set, 1KBW, who is also on its pupillage committee, tells Legal Cheek:

“I am not sure talking slowly is always such a good tactic. When you are a pupil, your first cases tend to be quite short, straightforward applications, you may only have 10-15 minutes in court. It could be quite annoying to have someone speak deliberately slowly as if you have a brain injury!”

Instead, Chandler, who also sits as a part-time judge, advises: “The ideal is to be concise and get straight to the point: this is the issue here, and this is the order I seek.”

Exall has handily collated the advice into his Civil Litigation Brief blog.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

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