The Young Bar Hub is a treasure trove of useful information which could prove to be invaluable to those in their early years of practice, but at present it is not as well-known as it should be.
Young Barristers’ Committee (YBC) have met – and are meeting – with representatives of the Inns of Court to try to raise our profile amongst students, particularly so that we can highlight the work that we do and the assistance we can provide when commencing life at the Bar. The Young Bar Hub shares information on matters such as accounting and finance, which are rarely discussed on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) or even in Chambers. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.
Against that background, we were delighted to receive not one, but two invitations to provide a speaker at BPTC Qualifying Sessions taking place on 8 June 2017. One of my colleagues, James Holmes, YBC’s Family Law representative, addressed students who attended their qualifying session at Middle Temple in London. As for me, I went off to Manchester, to speak at a Joint Inns Qualifying Session that was hosted at BPP in the city centre, and involved students from BPP and Manchester Metropolitan University.
As can often be the case at the Bar, a last minute Court rescheduling meant that my intended speaking partner, Michael Jones, had to send his apologies. Struggling for the material to fill a whole hour by myself, I was fortunate enough to rope in the ever willing Gerard McDermott QC (himself a former Chair of the YBC) to provide a different perspective on pupillage, the life that follows immediately afterwards, and innovation as a practitioner.
At the session, I spoke about some of the events that the YBC had coming up, including our very successful The Specialist Advocate Workshop (which took place on Saturday 1 July), the Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference on Saturday 4 November, and the Young Bar Annual Dinner (this year featuring a special guest, Judge Rinder!).
I also outlined the breadth of Toolkit and other materials available on the Young Bar Hub, which complements and sits alongside other great sources of information such as those provided by the Inns of Court. One point which I also made was about the general role of lawyers in speaking out in defence of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The Bar Council has been at its most vocal over the past year in relation to these issues, but their importance cannot be stated early or often enough – it is vital that the young practitioners of the future are committed to safeguarding them, if and when the time comes for them to speak out during their own careers.
Although my (commercial) pupillage is in many ways atypical for the Bar, I spoke about the common themes and advice on how to be a good pupil. Taking into account the fact that, unlike me, quite a number of the student delegates are likely to be in Court on Day 1 of their second six.
Then Gerard took the reins to give a more top down view, liberally peppered with personal anecdotes and discussion of how his own practice has developed over many years at the Bar.
The students politely told me over drinks that the session was useful and informative, so they were either very sincere or displaying admirable judgment about the sensitivities of their speaker, which will serve them well on pupillage! I was, however, very happy indeed to see one of the students in attendance at The Specialist Advocate Workshop, so I would like to think that the former comment might have been a genuine judgment on the event.
It was, as always, a great privilege to meet the young barristers of the future, and I wish them every success in their BPTC finals, and their search for pupillage.