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Victoria Mole
25 September, 2009  
Melbourne's bar culture

Ms Mole’s seven point plan for barristers … or how to secure a lifetime of kisses and backsheets

imageOh barristers. It’s just all too hard, isn’t it?

The uncertainty of where you will lunch each day. The tedium of being paid to engage in actual legal analysis, rather than e-alerts, client tantrums and bill formatting. The loneliness from not spending your days surrounded by carnivorous senior associates and moronic tearoom conversations.

My guitar gently weeps for you all.

So much that I’ve got a little gift for you. A magical secret that will guarantee a flow of work from those whimsical solicitors forevermore.

Don’t be a douchebag.

That’s it. Be you silk or fresh off the boat, follow this tenet and the briefs will come.

This means:

* Return phonecalls. I appreciate you’re oft in court. But you have a Blackberry/iPhone – I know this because you look more at it than you do me when I can actually pin you down for a conference. Use it. Even if I’m not there, I’ll appreciate the sentiment. When it is my matter you’ve been in court with all day, call me the second you finish. Do not pass the Essoign, do not collect $200.

* Address me in conference, not the male articled clerk. Email me for instructions, not my supervising partner and not the client.

* Feign interest in my matter. It’s not exactly Mabo but it has been the focus of my life and my client’s for the past month. Maybe you have been up all night drafting submissions for some cutting-edge private international law slash watershed Charter case. But keep that under your wig and at least pretend you care, would you?

* Don’t make submissions without consulting me first. I’ve worked with the client for months, you days. There’s a reason why I didn’t include that niggly semantic point in the brief. If you think it’s that important, do me the courtesy of a quick chat first.

* Admit when you stuff up. Don’t blame it on an unhinged bench, rogue witness or lack of preparation on my part. I’m not dumb and you’re still going to get paid.

* Help solicitors look good to their clients and their managers. We do our bit in the food chain, gratuitously fielding stupid questions from in-house counsel and doing their legwork. Be our “call-a-friend”. Go beyond your brief and suggest appropriate next steps. Tell clients and our supervising partners how well we have managed the file to date. Give us the heads-up on new cases we should know about. Do that and we’ll shower you with kisses and backsheets.

* When it’s all over, send your bill and return the brief pronto. I know having a crowded chambers makes you look busy to your little barrister friends but we want to get that headache off our desk and into archives.

Raffish charm, well-cut trousers and a penchant for word games also go down a treat.

If you follow this sage advice and stop your whingeing, the briefs will flow.

Trust me, I’m a solicitor.



Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: September 27, 2009, 3:38 am

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a lie. Everyone knows that solicitors LOVE those barristers and brief them all the time and never brief barristers who dote on them and do all of the above. And as for well cut trousers and raffish charm - says it all, doesn't it? Women barristers can just forget it.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: September 28, 2009, 11:24 pm

Nonsense. There be many a raffish charming lady barrister with knife pleats to kill. And the ones that aren't total cows are so much more pleasant to brief. Barristerial 'tude knows no demographical boundaries.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: October 5, 2009, 4:16 am

Young Ms Mole (as I do detect) has a bit of maturing to do. I am sure that she is trying to be a bit procovative otherwise the Learned and Handsome Editor of this wonderful e-zine would not publish such piffle. Brief a barrister early in a matter and not after you have caressed the living daylights out of the client's wallet. It is quite remarkable how quickly the client will then get to the point. As you may observe barristers do not 'leverage' a matter as running through a partner, a senior associate, a solicitor, a trainee lawyer, a para-legal amd support staff. Surprisingly there is - a barrister or at most a senior and a junior experieinced barrister. Do your job well and in half the time and the Bar will make you stand out - as a lawyer.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: October 6, 2009, 8:08 pm

Barristerial 'tude knows no demographical boundaries.