are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?
There is a revolving door of characters
in my professional life. Barristers are self-employed individuals in a chambers
(the barrister name for a shared rented office) and work for many different
firms of solicitors and clients, as and when required. We are on the original zero hours’ contract.
Different cases also take me to many court centres, so I see many different judges. Mercifully,
time spent with difficult personalities is usually short lived.
The constant in my existence (aside from
my wife) are my clerks. They run my
diary, manage my foibles and make sure I am in the right place, at the right
time and with the right papers. However, they are not secretaries and many
people are surprised that barristers do not have much secretarial support and
usually do their own typing.
Despite 'being in chambers' with other
barristers, the peripatetic nature of our existence means that I may not see
some colleagues for weeks on end. We often simply communicate by email. We are a competitive breed.
Memorable (and bizarre) story. The value
of an asset is not always an indicator as to how hard it will be fought over: I
was once faced with an argument about the parties’ extensive Country and
Western CD collection. All the big stuff (house, pensions, etc) was agreed, but
neither was for budging on the CD collection. Each said the other one had it. We were called
into court and the deputy district judge surveyed the catalogue of music. Clearly
a fan himself, he then proceeded to wax lyrical about some of his favourite
songs on the list and what they had meant to him personally at different,
memorable, moments of his life. From the
corner of my eye, I could see the parties looking at each other. They were
obviously each thinking (their faces were a picture), 'He’s barking mad!' and with a nod to each other they went out
and settled their differences!
is the best and worst part of the day for you?
Best part of the day – that moment when
you know you have mastered your brief.
Worst part of the day – Evenings, about
7pm, to be precise. Barristers usually
have homework to do. It can be hugely stressful knowing you have lots of work
ahead whilst also trying to balance that with the demands at home.
adjectives best describe you?
keeps you motivated?
Tea (with almond milk please).
would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
Find a niche.
Work hard, there is absolutely no
substitute for thorough preparation, however clever you think you may be.
Always send an email summary of what you
have just advised in conference – you
may have not been properly understood. If
the case comes back months later you will be most grateful for the note.
Sadly, avoid legal aid.
song do you listen to the most?
'I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For' by U2.
do you enjoy your time outside of work?
Despite the job, I believe in the
institution of marriage. I am lucky to be blessed with a happy marriage and
have a busy family life with three young children.
I go cycling really early every Sunday
morning with some friends. We stop at the same coastal café every week for tea
and toast. The same collection of dog walkers, larks and cyclists are there every
week. That’s one of the best bits of my
I’m a bibliophile. I have even been known, occasionally, to take a legal textbook on holiday; much to
the exasperation of my wife. Obituaries
are my favourite bit of the paper (the ultimate ‘case summary’).
I also attend a church.
you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and
Cohabitation reform, every time. The plight of
long-term partners , in their 'middle-years', who have never had their names on
the legal title of a property is dreadful. Telling someone in their 60s they are in the
financial position of an 18 year old is no fun at all.
Rhys Taylor has been nominated for the Family Law Commentator of the Year Award. You can find out why he was nominated and place your vote here.
Rhys is a co-editor of www.FamilyArbitrator.com.
You can follow him on Twitter at @RhysTaylor32
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