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The Secret Barrister reveals pain at not being able to publicly celebrate success

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Anonymous author wishes they could lap up glory in person

secret barrister
Image credit: Picador

Masked author The Secret Barrister (SB) has opened up about the pain at not being able to celebrate the success of their popular eponymous work publicly.

In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, the anonymous writer of 2018 paperback, Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken, says:

“It was weird not to be able to celebrate the success of my book publicly — criminal barristers are wild egotists and my other half finds it amusing that the greatest success I’ve had is something no one will find out about.”

The mysterious blogger’s debut book, which details the plight of the criminal justice system from the perspective of SB, a junior barrister practising in criminal law, has enjoyed overwhelming success. It was a Sunday Times top-ten bestseller for 24 consecutive weeks and the subject of a high-profile crowdfunding campaign which saw a copy given to every MP. SB confirmed a second instalment will be released in spring 2020.

The 2019 Chambers Most List

On Wednesday the barrister blogger took to Twitter to reveal that he (or she) had sold over 250,000 copies. “A QUARTER OF A FREAKING MILLION people now know about the crisis in criminal justice… I love you all. Without you, I’d be just an anonymous legal Twitter troll. This is utterly crazy. Thank you thank you X,” they wrote.

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53 Comments

Anonymous

Just wait until the Secret Barrister’s trend is declining, when a dozen pretenders will leap from the woodwork to claim it was in fact them all along

(9)(1)

Lord Harley of Counsel

It is actually me.

(36)(0)

Anonymous

There are 11 letters in ‘Alan Blacker’.

There are 15 letters in ‘Secret Barrister’.

15 minus 11 is 4.

The Secret Barrister has – yes, you guessed it – 4 limbs!

Proof of Blacker’s secret identity.

(38)(0)

Anonymous

There’s 15 in Lord Alan Blacker… further proof!

(6)(1)

Anonymous

No. I’m Sparticous.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

I’m pretty sure Spartacus can spell idiot

Anonymous

Spartacouscous

Anonymous

Yes I think he can spell the word idiot. He was quite well educated for a slave. He could also use punctuation. As in “Use a Comma after the word spell, idiot.” Top Tip: When being critical of others do not reveal yourself as a retard who can’t punctuate a sentence.

Dechert Trainee

No, it’s me!!
LLL

(3)(0)

Anonymous

DDD

(0)(1)

Woof

‘…criminal barrister are wild egotists…’

That’s a nice way of putting it.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

SB is actually Chris Grayling.

(16)(0)

Anon

‘Lap up glory’?

Aishah coming across more than a little envious here

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I read that and thought “Must be crap to be a criminal barrister”.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

Excellent book, would urge all law students to read it!

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Why aren’t moneylaw firms shamed into donating X% of profits into supporting legal aid?

Why does it take socialism?

Jeremy Corbyn!!!

(5)(16)

Anonymous

The problem is not the funding, it is the fact that year on year criminal sets have over expanded off the back of over supply of those qualifying at the bar. All the while the number of hearings of complexity have halved in 15 years. 50% more people chasing 50% less work means they’re screwed until many leave by attrition.

(3)(5)

Anonymous

That simply isn’t true. The number of pupillages offered has gone down by 50% over the last 10 years (even though the number of places on the BTVC has been doubled, leading to the problem of people not being able to qualify). There is an oversuply of BVTC students, but not of qualified laywers entering criminal law.

AGF has been cut by 50% since 2010 (and that is in relation to fees which had been frozen since 1997). Lower Crime Fees have also been cut and are currently at 1978 levels. £50 a day was a lot of cash in groovy funky 1978, but oddly enough isn’t in 2019. The average age of a duty solicitor is now 50, because new people are not entering criminal law. The 2017 Tenders had to be re-run as there were no firms at all prepared to do criminal work in three CJS Areas. The number of firms holding contracts has gone down from 1635 in 2011-12 to 1331 in 2017-18. This is not what oversupply looks like!

(9)(0)

Spartacus LLM

I’m SB

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I frequently enter the office kitchen with a cafeterie and proceed to prepare a mixture of roasted blends and then leave a freshly brewed pot for the office and depart quickly.

I am the Secret Barista.

#dadjokes

(28)(1)

Anonymous

I know who it is!

The identity of the Secret Barrister is…

This comment was moderated as it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(14)(1)

Shhh! Not a barrister.

W.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Well we know it’s a leftist moaner!

(9)(19)

Andrew

Because there aren’t enough made up facts and statistics for it to be a brexiteer…

(11)(4)

Anonymous

S/he does good work, that Secret Barrister.

But it won’t make any difference.

What the criminal practitioners lose sight of is that (a) most people don’t care about the rights of the accused or of prisoners, and (b) “it could be you” doesn’t work, because the truth for virtually all law abiding people is that “it’s very unlikely ever to be you”.

S/he is being bought and read by a readership that already agrees with him/her. It’s preaching to the converted. We can now put a number on the upper limit of the genuinely concerned: 0.25m. Which leaves about 49.5m who don’t care.

Just one Daily Mail or local paper’s story about moped riding acid throwers can undo all the good work of the intelligent commentators like SB. But that’s the fault of the crims, not the media.

(14)(2)

Anonymous

Except when the (proposed) defendant is one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP… the Secret Barrister seems rather silent when the whole private prosecution application business/application and the way it has been thus far handled are clear examples of ‘prejudice’ and ‘misconduct’, in this instance against Boris Johnson of he being able to receive a fair trial.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Why can’t he have a fair trial? Tens of thousands of summons and postal requisitions are issued against ordinary people accused of lying to gain something: fiddling their expenses, claiming benefits they were not entitled to, overstating their qualifications to get a job. They are not granted oral hearings to argue that it is unfair they should be prosecuted (that should only happen to other people), nor are they able to JR the decsion to issue a summons. If they didn’t lie and have been wrongly accused they are expected to go though a trial and tell it to the Magistrates or jury. The moral of the story is, be careful voting to widen criminal liability when you are an MP. One day you may be on the wrong end of it.

(1)(0)

Mr Tulkinghorn

Criminal Bazzas appear to be absolute masochists. Working all hours of the day, night and weekend for derisory fees – yet they still do it.

There was tweet yesterday from some bird complaining about getting paid £45 for a day in court, when her expenses in getting there etc. were more than that.

Yet she’s a Pupil Barrister, and she would have known when she was even at Uni that the pay for criminal work is such a joke.

Only the certified insane, or those with very wealthy family who can treat it as a hobby, would ever want to go into criminal bazza-ing these days.

The current call for a strike will be a joke – a couple of days prancing around outside the Old Bailey in gowns and wigs (yes, that will get a lot of sympathy) and then they will cave in like they have always done under pressure from the fat-cat QC’s and Heads of Chambers.

(8)(5)

Anonymous

Not really true. The problem is with entry-level work. I just billed my 4 day Band 7.2 trial. Total Fee: £4,567. However the payment is broken down as £125 for the PTPH, £91 for the PTR, £1,200 for the first day of the trial and £500 a day for days 2 to 4. If I did each hearing, it works out at £913 a day gross. If I dump my pre-trial hearings on someone else, my fee works out at £1,142 per day. The person I dump my returns on ends up however with a turnover of £91 per day.

Hence why no returns is a good idea. Each time the Bar has done it (2014 and 2018) the M o J was forced to reverse its fee cuts and in 2018 actually increased them for the first time in 25 years. You really have no idea what you are talking about. No returns causes chaos and doesn’t cost barristers anything and is the only thing that actually works. It’s not a strike. It’s self-employed people just saying. Ok, we won’t do the work we are not obliged to do and don’t get paid for anyway. Its not about symphathy, its simple economics. The reason the SAF is £91 (Defence) / £46.50 (Prosecuting) is because people accept those returns. Stop accepting them and it won’t be.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

So if You know will get £45 for a days work why is there anyone willing to it?

Why do you need a work to rule?

As I said, there must be a load of certifiably insane crimbo bazzas out there who agree to do these hearings.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Not really. To keep getting work in any field you need to keep your solicitors happy. As the Courts are so underfunded, listing is a shambles. So whilst you are part-heard on your £500 a day trial, the Court lists your £91 sentence in another case which its had in a three week warned list and lists decides to tell your clerks at 4.30pm that it will list it tomorrow, without asking if you are available. This is the dreaded “return”. Proffessional Conduct requires you to do continue with the trial. No other barrister is obliged to accept a return.

The reason I tootled off to cover my room-mate’s sentence for £91 whilst he was part heard earning £500 on his part-heard trial which means he can’t do his own sentence was for the Favour Chip of when I am part-heard and I need a sentence covered he will do the same for me. Natrually, as it was 3 hours work last night to read it, I really did earn about £5 an hour from that return.

I’d have been better off just not doing it and having the day off. Barristers do it to help each other out and help the Courts out. But there is no financial advantage in doing it. It would be easier for us to just say, not my case not my problem. The Court will have to adjourn it and list it for a day the instructed advocate can do (which it should have done in the first place). It’s not a case of working to rule. Its that returns help the system to function with inadequate funding on the basis of barristers goodwill. Goodwill is now withdrawn.

(8)(0)

Anon

But of course. It’s never REALLY been about calling attention to ‘access to justice’, the lengthy court delays or God forbid, the clients or their long-suffering families.

What ‘matters’ is self-satisfaction, feeling superiorly talented to other barristers and public fawning.

Another narcissist at the Bar craving attention and adulation out of incurable insecurity. No true empathy for others whatsoever.

The ‘likes’ and admiration is never, ever enough though is it?

(21)(6)

Anonymous

And what have you done about it exactly Anon?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

SB aligns themselves with FRU, but makes no mention of ever preparing a single case there. If it’s so great, why not hang out in the office more?

There are others who mention Yemen in their Twitter feeds everyday for fundraising, but won’t have an Arab pupil in chambers for at least another generation. They aren’t too keen to discuss the ‘Why?’.

I’ve been to Yemen. The people are worth much more than to be used as props for Twitter ‘Likes’ by people who wouldn’t give them the time of day back in England.

Yes, I will judge what people do and not what they say.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

Because legal work in England are usually either tedious or arduous or mentally taxing, or all of those, and thus necessarily involves (usually) the consumption of ‘liquid inducements’ to unwind, and the public consumption thereof as a means of ‘extra-occupational socialisation’, both of which could very well arguably come into conflict with some of the basic tenets and requirements of a person’s particular faith, especially those who or whose family hails from that particular part of the world… rather than deliberate discrimination?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Is a woman who takes her top off at the beach in front of everybody really somebody that you would want as your wife?

(9)(2)

Anonymous

I’ve seen barristers marry morbidly obese women.

Poor judgement never stopped anyone making a living.

(11)(3)

Anonymous

Give a man a fish, he will eat. Give a man a whale, he will feast.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

I do not for one believe that the SB is in fact a singular person…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The only crisis in criminal law is the fact that we haven’t brought back stop-and-search, borstal, and capital punishment. Nobody cares about well-intentioned naive liberal do-gooders who charge vast sums to defend the scum of the earth whilst swanning around in Georgian townhouses in Temple.

(5)(6)

Anonymous

All my crim bazza mates are poor. They do not live in places like that.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Why are you with mates with those types of people?

(1)(2)

Anonymous

They have better stories than “I paginated the hell out of that bundle today before doing some hardcore due diligence lists”.

(16)(1)

Anonymous

The criminal bar (in London at least) is literally based out of Georgian townhouses in Temple….

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Though more frequently moving to shitty office blocks, leaving the Georgian townhouses to the higher earning sets

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Oh dear. Another Daily Mail reading moron who thinks stop and search was abolished. Like to tell us which part of PACE was modified to abolish it? The power to stop and search has not been changed since 1984. In 2010 however, the Justice budget was halved as knocking 1p of a pint of beer was more important. So 20,000 officers were sacked. Guess what? That lead to less stop and search and more knife crime. Legal Aid and the CPS budget was also cut in half. Nobody really cares if a Daily Mail reading moron is stabbed, but you’ll still go to the police and CPS if you are. Nobody really cares of a daily reading moron is arrested after defending himself against someone who attacked him with a knife, but you’ll still go whinging to the duty solicitor to represent you and get you out of police custody and prison as its not as nice as the Daily Mail told you. Be seeing you. One way or another.

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Had a drink lad?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

“Nobody really cares of a daily reading moron is arrested after defending himself against someone who attacked him with a knife,”

The odds on that are very long indeed. The police would have to have some very special reason to arrest someone defending themselves against a knife wielding attacker. Like, say, the ‘attacker’ didn’t attack at all. Or the ‘attacker’ was 8 years old. Or the arrested person was one of a group who had their own weapons.

There *is* concern about police and other enforcement funding. But that’s got nothing to do with the rights of the accused or the convicted.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Sure about that? It is CPS policy to believe the victim. The victim is whoever rings the police first. Ever read a MG5, CRIS or CAD? If I attack you and you knock me out I will be the victim and you will be the suspect. Everything I say will be reported in the MG5 as the truth. Everything you say will be reported as “the suspect claimed in interview that…” About half the people I represent at the police station are ordinary people who claim to be the victim. Quite often they actually are.

(1)(0)

Ciaran Goggins

He is (too) close to plod.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Ooh, you’re edgy.

(1)(0)

Ciaran Goggins

Free Tibet!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

‘The Secret Barrister’ is first and foremost a Twitter account. Perhaps the ‘they’ really is a ‘they’?

It resembles too much of political activists and political advocacy than an actual barrister having a moan about the profession, whilst rewinding at home from work with a bottle or two. Obviously, HQ of a certain political party knows they can’t get a 25-year-old (or Maxine Peake) to set up a fake account pretending to be a ‘socialist Silk’, it just wouldn’t work.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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