I like challenges but going to the Bar was not a decision I took lightly.
For many staring at the Bar, I think there is an irrational fear of the unknown. The “what if …” lurking in the back of our minds. The feeling of self-doubt in the waiting.
Certainly, that was my experience.
About 18 months before starting, I saved money, spoke to colleagues, interviewed for chambers and thought about mentors. I also looked at the “marketplace” and wondered if there was a need for a junior barrister in my area.
And why wouldn’t I? I’ve heard horror stories of young barristers quitting the Bar after only a few months because they can’t get work.
It’s the same as opening a small business – and many of those will fail.
Here I am saying to the world: “I’m open for work. I can add value. Please give me your briefs!” The question is what value can I add when so many solicitors are very good at what they do?
Feeling slightly disheartened, I made a list of what junior barristers can still offer:
- They are specialist trial advocates – and very good at being persuasive (when I say trial, I include informal conferencing and all forms of ADR as well).
- They offer solicitors a different perspective about their client’s matter – this is part of a barrister’s independence.
- They can be really cost-effective – consider the hourly rate charged by law firms at associate/SA level and compare that with a junior barrister. Chances are a junior barrister will be cheaper.
- They provide the convenience of getting things done at inconvenient times – over the weekend, at night time or at the last second.
- They can work with solicitors as a team – the relationship can become almost symbiotic. There is no “I” in team.
- They are a ready resource available on-demand – whenever a tricky point of law or procedural question comes up.
- They have a privileged relationship with other barristers and with the judiciary – this helps in getting to the real issues of a case and settling disputes.
After drafting my list, I breathed.
And I felt a lot better.
If only I could offer these seven points of value to my solicitors! Then there would be a good reason to go to the Bar.
My own experience told me that the future is never as bad as you think and never as good as you predict. It’s always better for some things and worse for others.
What if instead of worrying, I started doing? The road would be long, but well worth it.
Perhaps my journey wouldn’t be so bad after all.