Lawyers share their most embarrassing court stories

Avatar photo

By Rhys Duncan on


So. Much. Cringe.

Striding around in smart suits and delivering polished speeches, lawyers can sometimes be idolised, likened to omniscient beings beyond mere mortal humans. In their crusade for justice and intellectual dominance, these figures are often praised, admired, and occasionally worshipped.

As it turns out, however, even those with the shiniest shoes and silkiest statements can trip up. Courtesy of The Secret Barrister, a large degree of professional humility, and an outdated misconception that tweets, or X’s?, aren’t publicly visible, we’ve put together a selection of legal tales to remind you that lawyers aren’t always as smooth as they may seem.

So sit back, procrastinate that email for five more minutes, leave the contract reading for later, and enjoy our top nine responses to The Secret Barrister’s request for “your embarrassing court stories”.

A warning to every John Smith

HHJ Honeybun

A classic legal manoeuvre

Guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time

It doesn’t get much worse than this…

Or maybe it does?

‘For the benefit of the tape, we just cringed, a lot’

Mistaken identity?

Bargain blunder

If you’ve been affected by any excessive third party cringe, or have yourself been the victim of a hilarious barrister blunder or solicitor slip-up, the comments section (and an immortality of cringe) awaits…



I use one of my experiences as a salutary warning to the new barristers.

No matter how confidential or privileged you think a communication is, always assume one day a judge will be reading it back to you.

I had an email go into the bundle which warned my opponent that “the court is a sh*t-tip and smells of p*ss”.

The judge did raise that with me after the hearing. Luckily I was able to point around at the hole in the floor surround by yellow and black tape and the plug sockets warning people not to use because of the risk of electrocution.

Actually read the thread

When LC says “ an outdated misconception that tweets, or X’s?, aren’t publicly visible” what it doesn’t say is that this was a plainly public thread started by SB with the purpose of allowing people to share their humanising stories in public. Not everything has to a be a “scoop”.


In one of my earliest Crown Court trials (many many years ago), I prosecuted a 13 year old defendant for a nasty attempted robbery. I made, what I hoped, was a persuasive closing speech- ending solemnly with the words “and that is why the Crown invites you to find x guilty of attempted robbery”…. As I sat down, there was uproar from the 13 year old and his family behind me. No doubt drunk on the power of my own advocacy… I had finished my speech: “and that is why the Crown invites you to find x guilty of attempted MURDER….”


If that’s a true story, what happened? what did the judge/opponent say/ or did you realise your mistake.

Sherlock KC

Also, such a case was almost certain to have been in the Youth Court, non?


In the early days of voice dictation and neglecting to check my letter before it went out, I wrote to the client in the following terms “ if you would like the sperm to represent you, I look forward to receiving £500 on account” incredibly he returned the letter and £500 inviting me to represent him!


A tip to all barristers.

Applies in multiple contexts.

“Before sitting down and acting, make sure there is paper.”

Join the conversation

Related Stories

Pay for a blue tick? No thanks say top tweeting law firms

Lukewarm response to Elon's paid verification service, with only three big legal players taking it up so far

Apr 26 2023 9:53am

Ex-Doughty Street barrister fined for ‘offensive’ tweets aimed at colleague

Daniel Bennett resigned from top human rights set in 2019 after link to anonymous account was revealed

Sep 12 2022 12:57pm

Can you all just stop doing contempt of court, pleads Attorney General

#ThinkBeforeYouPost campaign warns public about prejudicing trials via social media

Jun 28 2021 9:19am