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Archive for July 13th, 2009

Marcel Berlins has stirred things up with his article in the Guardian suggesting the modern advocates lack the flair and atistry of their forebears…. and suggests that modern barristers are boring.

I don’t want to discuss advocacy or, indeed, the wider question of whether modern barristers are or are not boring.  What I want to write about is a barrister who is definitely not boring and that barrister is BABYBARISTA.

I don’t know the name of the vintner that author of BabyBarista Tim Kevan uses… but I am going to ask him… because whatever he was drinking as he plotted out and wrote BabyBarista and The Art of War... I want some… it certainly does the business.

Tim Kevan, who is a Cambridge  man and a barrister himself (although for the present he has gone surfing and writing),  has created a marvellously mendacious manipulating monster for the 21st Century in the form of BabyBarista who plots, lies, and manipulates his way through the twelve months of pupillage to try and defeat TopFirst, TheWorrier, BusyBody and late entrant ThirdSix to gain the coveted tenancy.

When I was at university in the early seventies I read Brothers-in-Law, AP Herbert, Megarry and then read the entire Rumpole series written by Sir John Mortimer QC in the Eighties.  BabyBarista follows this fine lineage but does not try to copy it – quite the opposite.  Tim Kevan weaves colour and story through brief description and good narrative and is bang up to date on his cliches (which I suspect are deliberate to parody pre and misconceptions)  and icons of  the modern world of blogs, Twitter and Facebook.   He paints a wonderfully surreal picture of the Bar, stretching belief but at the same time leaving the reader wondering where the inspiration came from.  We meet his pupil master TheBoss – a man with absolutely no spine who, shall we say, gets into some pretty difficult water.  There is TheVamp – a woman I could probably enjoy  meeting myself in all senses of the word, UpTights – not my type, OldSmoothie – a pretty hopeless case and the avuncular “Feel the force, Luke”  character of OldRuin – the only truly honest barrister in the entire book – apart from the lovely Claire.

I liked the way Tim used his experience of practice to parody different scenarios, different styles of work and personality, and some of the changes the legal profession is going through.  His section on claim farms and their handling of accident claims is just wonderful.  We have a judge who plays online bridge during hearings, an Insurance company which settles cases with a barrister by playing Battleships – the old game from childhood – and we have general mayhem and riot.  I was left hoping for more extreme behaviour from BabyBarista in his quest for pupillage, conscious that I was rooting for an appalling role model for the legal profession and I enjoyed every page.  Cleverly, Tim grounds the entire book with the sub-text of SunTzu, The Art of War.

As with all authors there is the obligatory “All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain are fictitious and any resemblance… etc etc..”

I’m sure this is the case –  but I couldn’t help putting a face to some of his characters from people I have met in my lifetime.   This, of course, made it even more enjoyable for me.  Roll on the next book.

BabyBarista is a Hogarthian romp, a parody, a satire with edge and I have no hesitation in finding for Tim Kevan and recommending it to you.  Tim Kevan, a fellow blogger and friend,  has done the business… and that,  as my regular readers will have gathered, is my legion d’honneur… my highest accolade.. and it made me laugh… out loud..  as I read it lying in state on my futon with a bottle of  Rioja to my left.

***

BabyBarista and The Art of War

£7.19 on Amazon when I wrote this review.

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Blawg Review #220 from Overlawyered

Overlawyered is a Blog I read regularly. Walter Olsen has been blogging for ten years and this, he suggests (and he is almost certainly right), makes his law blog the oldest.  I have been writing Charon QC since 2001 (albeit only using WordPress since 2006) and I’m sure a few other bloggers are not far behind Walter Olsen.

This week’s Blawg Review #220 is excellent with a varied content, an easy pace and some rather amusing snippets… just as I like it!

Walter kicks off with this… “The week’s most widely blogged story, well documented by Above the Law, is a South Florida lawyer’s “Motion to Compel Defense Counsel To Wear Appropriate Shoes” at a personal injury trial, from fear that his opponent would employ a certain pair of hole-worn loafers to practice the arts of aw-shucksery on the jury.”

Do read it.. I am sure you will enjoy it.  An amusing and interesting review of the week’s posts on the legal blogs.

Read Blawg Review #220

Blawg Review

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