I am a practicing barrister working from offices in the Temple in London. I deal with civil litigation (which means roughly anything to do with one person suing another for money). Almost uniquely I am qualified both to conduct cases as a barrister and to ‘conduct litigation’ which means that I can effectively do the job of both the solicitor and barrister. I work in London and live in Essex and I am happy to take instructions from members of the public across the country. If you live in Essex I will probably be happy to come to your home or office so as to save you a journey. I offer a free initial consultation to look at your case and I will consider any case to see if it is one that I would be happy to work under a “no-win, no-fee” type of agreement.
The need to go to a solicitor first was abolished a few years ago, but barristers were still not allowed to file court documentation on behalf of a client or to take over the overall management of a case – the client had to do that for themselves or instruct a solicitor. Since April 2014 those rules have been changed and (subject to approval by our regulator) barristers are now allowed to undertake the full gamut of litigation services. In effect the barrister can now do the job of both the solicitor and the barrister.
At the time of publishing this site there are still less than 50 barristers authorised by our regulator the Bar Standards Board to provide this service – and I’m one of them.
I am not a campaigner for human or civil rights. In fact most of the work I do is acting on behalf of businesses (small, medium or large). I do act on behalf of big corporations, insurance companies and finance houses and in fact our code of conduct would prohibit me from picking and choosing my clients in any way.
However many of my clients may fairly be classed as the ‘underdog’ and in a fight between David and Goliath I always find that I prefer acting for David. The name ‘the people’s barrister’ partially reflects the widening of services which barristers are now allowed to provide to the public and also, in part, reflects my preference for working for the underdog !
Are you part of a large business or a one-man-band ?
A bit of both really ! Barristers have always had a slightly odd setup: we are required to be self-employed individuals (a one man band) so as to secure our independence. Equally barristers have for a long time teamed up and shared premises and to the outside world we look pretty much like a large law firm. I am a member of chambers at the very posh sounding Chambers of the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, One Essex Court. However, Tony isn’t my boss - I am. Ultimately each barrister within the organisation runs his or her own micro-business, albeit that we market ourselves as a team and have shared offices, staff and website (www.1ec.co.uk). This slightly unusual set-up means that the barristers and the clients have the back-up of a large office and clerks but can still provide their services in their own unique and individual style.
Don’t you have to qualify as a solicitor before you become a barrister ?
No, it is a common misconception. However I would argue that since we barristers go to court on a day-in day-out basis that we have more experience ‘at the coal face’ and as such are well placed to advise a client as to the likely outcome in any case.
Don’t barristers charge a fortune ?
Sadly, no. Barristers have always had lower overheads than solicitors – for example we don’t have an army of secretaries and paralegals chasing after us, we do our own typing.
A solicitor of comparable experience will normally charge about 30-50% more than a barrister. Many of my clients don’t have the funds to pay for legal representation up-front precisely because they are penniless solely because the other side have swindled them. I frequently work on a form of no-win no-fee type arrangement of almost precisely the kind you see advertised on Channel 5 daytime TV. Why would you choose to go to a claims management company when you can go directly to the ‘real McCoy’ on the same fee basis ?
What is unique about your service ?
Whilst I take my work seriously, I don’t take myself too seriously. Barristers (and lawyers in general) have a poor reputation for being pompous, arrogant stuffed-shirts who fleece their clients. I pride myself on putting my clients at ease and not putting myself above my clients: I frequently meet clients in casual dress and only put on my battle dress (aggressive pin stripe suit, wig, gown) when going to court. My basset-hound, Hilda Rumpole, often sits in on client meetings offering her own ‘legal-beagle’ expertise.
I am equally forthright in the court-room: my code of conduct requires me to ‘fearlessly promote my client’s interests’ and if this means falling out with the judge or a witness, so be it. I am well known for conducting a forthright cross examination of the opposing side’s witnesses. Be warned however: I can be equally forthright with my own clients ! I don’t believe in leading a client up the garden path – allowing them to falsely believe their case is stronger than it is, only to take their money for my fees but lose the case eventually. I strongly believe in giving people an honest appraisal of their prospects of success right at the outset: if my client is throwing good money after bad then it is best if they stop as soon as possible, even if that also means that they stop paying me !
What is your best lawyer joke ?
Judge Frisby-Fotherinham-Smythe returned to Courtroom number 1 in the Central London County Court to give Judgment on a Monday morning having heard 3 weeks of evidence and argument from both sides. Judge to barristers: “I prepared my Judgment over the weekend but unfortunately I’ve left it at my country house in Wiltshire”. Barrister to Judge: “Fax it up, your honour”. Judge: “It does rather doesn’t it”….
What experience do you have ?
I was called to the Bar in 1997 and so I have nearly 20 years experience as a practicing barrister. When I was just 25 I published a 700 page book through Oxford University Press entitled “Blackstone’s Sale and Supply of Goods and Services”, you can still buy a copy on Amazon at about £70. I am an accredited trainer for the Inner Temple Advocacy Training programme, which means I teach junior barristers in how to perform in court. I am an accredited pupil master which means that I have an apprentice barrister working under my supervision and I am authorised to ‘sign them off’ as duly qualified.