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Book DetailsISBN: 9781509905362
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Book Review: Bewigged and Bewildered? by Adam Kramer QC - Reviewed by GavelBasher (24 Jun 2016)
WHAT MODERN BARRISTERS DO AND HOW WE GET THERE TO DO THE JOB IN 2016: THE BEST AND MOST REALISTIC GUIDE AROUND
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Let’s face it, the Bar of England and Wales can always welcome additional explanations of what we, as barristers, do and how we train and qualify! Of all the current books in the marketplace, “Bewigged and Bewildered” remains the top choice for its clarity of expression and relevant detail for the budding barrister in our view.
We have reviewed this book before so we have “form” (or “previous”) in supporting the way Adam Kramer and his new colleague, Ian Higgins, have reviewed the current parlous state of barrister recruitment in 2016.
And there is (as always during the whole of my career anyway) the regular dire warnings about what it is really like to be a practising barrister in 21st century… as it was in the last century when I was called: things have not changed as much as some would think! And today, it is probably just as hard or harder to get to practise and to continue to practise as a specialist advocate in a more complex legal setting.
The authors say “these are turbulent times for the Bar”. How right they are. The times are turbulent now as indeed they were in the 1960s and 1970s when I started on the road to the Bar. The need to have access to independent means of support remains the same prerequisite for many. But, sadly, it’s actually more difficult today because of two factors: lack of legal aid and bad pay levels at the junior Criminal Bar which have created a crisis for the Young Bar because you cannot achieve the sort of training and experience which most of us enjoyed in the past.
Kramer and Higgins say that there are these many hurdles to overcome although the rewards, “intellectual and lifestyle, quite apart from financial” are “well worth it”. And that is the key because it is about perseverance. So don’t be put off by any preconceptions concerning the “type” of people who become barristers, or by not knowing the processes involved.
The authors describe their excellent practical guide in the following way saying that “misunderstandings and jargon prevent many from seriously considering a career as a barrister in the belief that such a career is not for them or that they are not for it. Others know that they might want to become barristers but not how to go about it, or just want to know more about this somewhat mysterious profession”. They give us some of the answers.
They clearly, but informally, explain the traditions, terminology and institutions of the Bar, and what it is actually like to be a barrister. With this aim, several barristers practising in different specialist fields describe in detail a typical week in their life which is invaluable as a pen portrait of what we do.
Also, they give advice on how to be accepted into, fund and survive the various academic and other stages that precede qualification as a barrister, including work experience, Bar School and “pupillage” which is our name for the barrister's apprenticeship. The book goes on to explain how to transfer to the Bar, for the benefit of solicitors, overseas lawyers or those in a non-legal career.
The authors say that the third edition is fully updated to take account of the most recent changes to the Bar, training for it, and the process of recruitment to it and it is the most fundamental purchase for any person wishes to practise as a modern barrister-at-law in the 21st century.
Thank you, and as the authors say “Good luck!”
Adam Kramer and Ian Higgins are barristers at 3 Verulam Buildings. Adam was previously a lecturer in law at the Universities of Durham and Oxford, and Ian is a former solicitor.
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