The constant demands, the uncertainty, the long hours, the fact that your papers never arrive during the time you have set aside to prepare them … but sometimes we neglect to talk about one of the most defining features of the Bar, the enduring friendships we make along the way, and I’d like to celebrate some of mine. There’s an African proverb which roughly translates as ‘It takes a village to raise a child’: I think it also takes a village to raise a barrister.
First on my list are Ruth, Kevin and James, my best friends from Bar school: none of the good stories are repeatable, but we laughed so much that year, and we have always been there for each other since, for the tough times too.
Then there’s Mathew, whom I first met on the CPE year, another of my best friends who shares my offbeat sense of humour and my taste in music and wine.
Malek is someone who always looked out for me and was so kind to me from back when I was a pupil. He had no particular reason to do so – he was in a different Chambers – but he is a brilliant example of how a senior member of the Bar goes out of their way to make a baby barrister feel welcome and safe.
Then there are my fantastic friends in Chambers, far too many to mention here, always available to have their brains picked about a case or with whom I can relax after a long day in court. One I have to single out is my long-suffering Chambers roomie, Patrick, who retired in April: he has been a mentor, a true friend, a proof-reader of FDR notes, a test cricket companion at Lord’s, the unflappable one when I have been feeling stressed, and we even developed our own language. He is irreplaceable and I really miss not seeing him every single day.
My Chambers friends include my clerks, who have the unenviable job of dealing with my queries and quirks, including John, my senior clerk, who is not fazed by anything, and Alex, my senior family clerk, who not only clerks me with skill but knows when to take me out for beer and the Big Easy’s legendary chicken wings.
Wardy and Leslie are two other superstar friends at the Bar, both incredibly funny and kind: I became friends with Wardy after we were against each other on an FDR, and Leslie I met though the FLBA National Committee.
My girls, Sarah and Corinne, also family barristers, bring me such joy when we get together and put the world to rights over dinner and espresso martinis. A most happy trio indeed, whether we are together at Cumberland Lodge or on holiday in Italy.
I like and respect all of these people enormously, and I am so proud and lucky to have them in my life. Take a minute, when you can, to remember your village too.
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