10.8.09

BabyBarista reviewed in Legal Week

Great review of BabyBarista and the Art of War from Thom Dyke in Legal Week which you can read below or click here.

'An upper class reality show'

Pupil-to-be Thom Dyke reviews blog-turned-novel ‘BabyBarista and The Art of War'

John Mortimer once described the process of undertaking pupillage as one of life's "splendid miseries". In BabyBarista and The Art of War, Tim Kevan provides a portrait of the year-long quest for tenancy. Describing the gruelling year of pupillage as "a sort of upper-class reality show in microcosm", the book chronicles the progress of BabyBarista, who engages in all manner of brief-swapping and bed-hopping schemes in the hope of securing his prize of a permanent position at chambers.

BabyBarista began life as a blog written by 1 Temple Gardens tenant Tim Kevan. The blog quickly became a hit among the legal blogging community. It was picked up by The Times, which offered to host the blog, expanding its audience out of the niche world of the legal blogosphere and into the mainstream. While it was originally written anonymously, Kevan chose to out himself as the blog's author earlier this year after much speculation as to who was behind the BabyBarista mask.

Written in a lively and engaging style, BabyBarista has more than enough laughs to keep the reader on the right side of the dubious ethical path plotted by the central protagonist as he takes on his fellow pupils, TopFirst, BusyBody, Worrier and ThirdSix. Taking Sun Tzu's Art of War as his guide, BabyBarista weaves an increasingly tangled web as the year unfolds, attempting to stay in favour with his pupilmaster, instructing solicitor and the Bar Standards Board. But Kevan also tackles the more thorny questions of professional misconduct and the financial hardship suffered by many members of the junior Bar.

While Kevan may not present life at the Bar in the rosiest light, he clearly has a genuine affection for the profession. Characters such as OldRuin (described as Dumbledore meets Clarence, the angel from It's A Wonderful Life) and TheBusker are drawn with real warmth and understanding.

BabyBarista is part of a long-standing tradition of legal fiction, and it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn with Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey and the work of judge-turned-writer Henry Cecil. But it is the world of the blog to which BabyBarista owes the most. One suspects that BabyBarista would be as much at home in the backstabbing, corporate world of Jeremy Blachman's Anonymous Lawyer - another novel that started out as a blog - as he is in the Inns of Court. The very nature of a blog as an 'online confessional', lends itself well to the often isolated world of the legal profession. This is reflected in the popularity of blogging among lawyers, particularly in the US.

On the strength of this first instalment of the story, I hope it will not be the last. And it looks like it won't as Kevan is currently working on a sequel. Genuinely funny, BabyBarista deserves to become compulsory reading for prospective pupils and pupilmasters alike.

BabyBarista and The Art of War by Tim Kevan is published by Bloomsbury. Thom Dyke will start pupillage at Hardwicke Building in October.

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