Day 31 (week 7): Pomposity

Today I lost one of my friends and fellow pupils to the Bar. Met up for lunch and went to shake his hand and he corrected me.
“Barristers don’t shake hands with each other.”

You don´t say. We´d all had that pointed out on the first day of pupillage but I´d noted that it was a custom often not followed, particularly by members of the Junior Bar. Still don´t know the reason why it even exists. Perhaps it´s that they´re instruments of justice and therefore don´t partake in human courtesies. Perhaps it´s that they don´t need to shake hands as they all trust each other even without this little gesture. Really no idea save that it seems extremely pompous, particularly when the other person doesn´t reciprocate your extended hand. Happened to me with a senior barrister in Chambers and it made me feel very small indeed. Suffice it to say, that I wasn´t impressed by my friend.

"It doesn´t apply with friends, though.” I replied.
“No, it’s all of us. Same with MPs.”

It was true that MPs had the same custom but I didn´t see this as a reason for following it.

Next thing he’ll be addressing me as his learned friend across the lunch table.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious!! I have just discovered your blog and I'm thoroughly enjoying it - thank you!

Anonymous said...

It's because we are all supposed to know (and trust) each other as gentlemen. Same thing happened to me on a pupillage interview in Bedford Row.

It's a crap custom and one the junior Bar is rightly ditching. Hopefully it will be gone for good in a generation.

Anonymous said...

Barristers and Baby Baristas are meant to be like brothers. The reason for shaking hands traditionally was to demonstrate you would not draw your sword against the other person (if right handed sword would be sheathed on the left)- the thinking is that you would not draw your sword against your brother - hence do not shake hands. I do agree it is antiquated but we must also think how a client feels observing their barrister being pally with the opposition.