Saturday, 21 July 2007

Tenancy II

I went for a couple of pints with The Master last night. There is some sort of infestation of mini and micro pupils around chambers at the moment, and I suggested we go for a mid-afternoon coffee so we could catch up. A couple of hours later, we headed to the pub for something non alcoholic. An hour later, we left after a couple of pints and a useful, very pleasant, occasionally hilarious chat.

He thinks I stand a very good chance of getting tenancy as I’m a strong candidate, but need to show my face more around chambers. This is pretty much my own analysis of my situation as well, but it was very helpful to hear it from someone else. One member of chambers I know only in passing and with whom The Master was out for a drink with the other night doesn’t know much about me, and this is apparently a common complaint at tenancy votes. I’m not naturally gregarious, so The Master has decided to start touting me around based on his very specialist practice: ‘Do you mind if Pupilblogger sits in your room for a week to get some public/private/ancillary relief experience?’ type thing. I don’t like this idea one little bit, but I can see it is nevertheless a Good Idea.

Factors in my favour now include:

  • I think I get on pretty well with the people with whom I do naturally have contact in chambers through rooms and work, and I think both editions of The Master will be recommending me very strongly. I imagine most pupilmasters put in a good word for their pupils out of loyalty, but I know this hasn’t always been the case in these chambers.
  • The Master reports that the clerks are pleased with my willingness to take on work. This surprises me as I haven’t been going out of my way to do so and am still nervously holding off on offering myself for family work, the main work of chambers.
  • The inscrutable head of chambers is (probably) pleased with me as I’ve done quite a bit of work on a House of Lords case in which he and The Master are instructed, and a lot of my first draft of the Petition has made its way into the final version.
  • I’m doing fairly well at attracting half-decent work. With The Master’s help I worked out how to interrogate the chambers computer system. He held the server down while I administered a good kicking, then we broke it (morally) by getting a mop bucket and threatening water-boarding. Luckily, the fees clerk walked in at this point and seemed to know quite a lot about it. I think this lent us some much-needed credibility and professionalism in the victim’s eye, which I understand is quite useful in a torture situation. To my considerable surprise I earned, on paper, over £6500 in a period of two months. I’ve actually been PAID about £250 in that time, but it still bodes well.
  • The clerks took a relatively straightforward bail case from me yesterday to give me something more complicated instead on the same day, and gave the bail case to a tenant of several years' call instead. I would actually have rather kept the bail case, which was for a firm I'd like to do more work for, but nevermind.
  • I’ve had a couple of people I vaguely know at another set of chambers separately suggest I apply to them, which gives me options should it go pear-shaped here and also injects a certain amount of confidence. Hopefully not tragically misplaced.

The couldn’t-make-it-up anecdote that emerged from the chat with The Master was a real corker. I’ve heard some great ones recently, but need to think of ways to dress them up slightly, if you’ll forgive what you will soon see was dramatic irony. I seek to preserve what I see as the integrity of the anecdote.

More on that in a later post.


Simon Myerson said...

Sounds good to me - especially the bit about the clerks taking the simple thing off you and the HL petition.

You do have to put your face around if there is a vote. Otherwise it tends to be ok if other members of chambers trust your PM, but it sounds like your chambers actually have a vote.

Nothing succeeds like asking to help...

foreigner said...

in my jurisdiction it is possible for one who has just completed pupillage to set up his own chambers instead of trying hard to secure a tenancy in existing chambers. Is that the case in England?

Budding Barrister said...

Think you may have to practise for a number of years first. 5?

foreigner said...

I asked the question becoz I have just read Harry Mount's book "my brief career", it seems to be that failure to get a tenancy is the end of the world, the author did not at any time consider the possibility of setting up his own chambers, that makes me to have the impression that in England you cannot have your own chambers immediately after your admission to the Bar?

Anonymous said...

I'm in a jurisdiction where you have a clerk separate to chambers, and obtaining good clerk and mentor (which do not need to be linked) is the challenge...

Android said...

At least the Master was honest.

I really hope all goes well for you!