8.12.06

Day 49 (week 10): Solicitor party

Tonight was the first in a series of Christmas parties. This one was held by a firm of solicitors who give a lot of work to Chambers. I had been invited along by the Boss in the afternoon as he was feeling in a generous mood having made another of his last minute settlements (brief fee for tomorrow’s now defunct hearing: £4,000).

If the relationship between senior clerk and barrister is a complicated one, that between solicitor and barrister is simple. Barristers are self-employed and in a highly competitive market. Solicitors do the hiring. Barristers are desperate for the work. Solicitors have it to give out. Solicitors dangle their work in front of the barristers just as you might dangle a ball of wool in front of a kitten. In the same way, they may just as easily take it away at the last moment. Just for fun. To watch the barrister chase. Bring him down a peg or two. Then, when all his pride is lost, he is rewarded with one of the cases.

Now I accept that this may not always be the case but it certainly seemed like that tonight, watching the way the barristers fawned over the solicitors at the drinks party. It’s a game. The barristers know that but they can’t seem to control their professional paranoia. The fear that one day, no matter how successful they are now, it might all disappear. The cases might stop. That they’ll be left with nothing. Stuck in trheir ivory tower with nowhere left to escape.

No comments: