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”.
My best advice in advocacy is to imagine the judge is slightly hard of hearing, bored, and a bit daft. Elevating your voice, keeping it simple and coherent, and talking slower than you think you need, has the benefit of keeping you on track, able to understand, and coherent.
— paul nicholls (@paulnicholls) March 26, 2019
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.”
Be kind to people. Few can expect to be the best lawyer in the room, but anyone can be the nicest.
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) March 26, 2019
Whereas Adam Wagner, human rights barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, gets metaphorical:
Winning a case is like setting out on a sea voyage. Your preparation is building the boat but the judge is the weather. You can build the best boat but no one can predict the weather!
— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) March 27, 2019
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.