26.7.09

Good review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from Delia Venables

Good review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from Delia Venables the author of the leading internet legal hub www.venables.co.uk which you can read here and also below. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.

Baby Barista is a book by Tim Kevan, just published by Bloomsbury. Tim Kevan practised as a barrister at Middle Temple for 10 years and has written quite a few serious law books but he has now branched out into a extremely funny exposure of what it is like to be a pupil barrister. His account was published as an anonymous blog on Times Online for a year or more and indeed continues now in the same persona (still referred to in the blog as Baby Barista although now he is a "proper" barrister). The book brings together the main series of blogs, written as a diary, with the young barrister realising that to gain a tenancy requires more than honest hard work. It is very funny and exposes the practices of the bar in a rather scary way (do things really happen like this?). I thoroughly enjoyed it and, judging from the plaudits already received from many well known people, it will be a runaway success. (The subtext "and The Art of War", a Chinese military treatise written by Sun Tzu in the 6th century BC, is a fascinating insight as well but I won't attempt to summarise that.)
If you need a little light reading for the summer, or alternatively a present for your mother or other dear one who is not quite sure what you do, then go for it. For £8.99 plus p & p it's a steal - you can order it online now, as above, or even cheaper here.

BabyBarista wins a Law Minx Blog Award!

Thank you to top blogger Law Minx not only for one of her blog awards but also for a very nice review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' which you can read here and below. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.

The(Nervous) Shock of the Year Award - Goes to Mr. Tim Kevan for the truly amazing revelation that he is not ONLY the true architect of the machinations of Mr Baby Barista but also author of a fine book entitled ‘Baby Barista and the Art of War’ which I have had the great good fortune to read before it hits the shelves in August and found to be a fine and ROLLOCKING yarn related to Baby B’s Quest for Tenancy; it is a book which I urge you, Dear BlogWatchers, in the strongest possible terms, to place at the top of your Summer Reading List. Trust me, you won’t be able to put it down once you’ve started!!!

25.7.09

Nice review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' by Family Law Week blog

Nice review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from top blogger and barrister Jacqui Gilliatt of the Family Lore blog here and also below. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.

No doubt a number of pupils were secretly rather relieved when the identity of the author of the Time’s Baby Barista blog was finally revealed in the Times to be Tim Kevan so that the finger of suspicion was no longer pointing at them. I have long been a fan of the blog describing its style elsewhere as Henry Cecil on speed. Every new pupil of mine (Natasha, take note) is lent a copy of Brothers-in-Law by Henry Cecil which, although now a little dated, describes the life of a post-war pupil along with some of the more quaint traditions of the bar. The book was also made into a very fine film starring Ian Carmichael & Terry Thomas (and later a radio & tv programme starring Richard Briers) and was one of a series of legal novels written by Henry Cecil who became a Judge in 1949 & used to sit in Clerkenwell & Shoreditch, I believe. I am also rather fond of the follow up book – Daughters-in-Law for obvious reasons. You can buy the books from Amazon
For more pupil lit I would also thoroughly recommend the appropriately named The Pupil by Caro Fraser (Henry Cecil on Viagra?) the first in her delicious serious about Caper Court Chambers and the gorgeously seductive Leo. Caro’s take on lawyers is that we are all crippled inside as she puts it.
If I had any doubts about how the Baby Barista column might stand up as a book (especially as I have read it already) they are entirely dispelled by Baby Barista & the Art of War (which you can also buy from Amazon . The whole is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts and it’s lovely to have it all in one place so you don’t have that feeling you have missed an episode. It’s just as witty on re-reading. And just as much fun trying to match the characters to real life barristers (& please don’t tell me who I remind you of & I will return the courtesy!). But, of course, none of it could be true could it?
One particular passage made me wince. TheBoss to his pupil:

“..we start off in this job with so much potential. The world is our oyster and we can do anything we choose. We then spend years taking ourselves further and further away from the mainstream until we are so specialised that if we were to jump ship there would not even be a life-raft nearby. We are good only for being barristers. Otherwise it’s straight back down to the bottom of the pile aged forty-four”.

Substitute ‘family lawyer’ for ‘barrister’ and it sums up many of the conversations I have been having with family practitioners in recent months.
And SlipperySlope:

“The law’s not about ivory towers or wigs and gowns. It’s about one thing and that’s costs. Not justice. Not rights. Not defending the innocent or prosecuting the guilty. It’s cold, hard, stinking cash. Your time, literally, is money. You sign away your life, but for a price of which even Faust himself would be proud.”
Fortunately, these are atypically bleak moments in an otherwise hugely enjoyable debunking of the world of the Bar. But is Baby Barista really as Machiavellian as he is made out to be? Most of his victims are odious and richly deserve what they get. He has far too soft a spot for OldRuin whose life he saves, returning a brief to do so & upsetting his HeadClerk (is he mad?). He loves his mother despite her embarrassing appearance at the chambers’ tea party bearing cake. Part of his drive to succeed in the tenancy stakes is the desire to keep her from hookey street. And then there is the fragrant Claire for whom he is clearly destined so long as she doesn’t find out the full extent of his shenanigans. If there is a moral to this amoral story perhaps it is that inside every barrister is a nice person trying to get out?

20.7.09

Bar Council publicises 'BabyBarista and The Art of War'

Very grateful to The General Council of the Bar for mention of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' here and also printed below. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.
BabyBarista and the Art of War
If you are looking for a light hearted entertaining holiday read, then you may wish to purchase a copy of Tim Kevan's book BabyBarista and the Art of War. Already widely known as a blog on The Times’ website, the book is being published by Bloomsbury in August of this year.
BabyBarista and the Art of War is Tim Kevan's first novel, and was described by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as "a wonderful, racing read - well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud" and by author Boris Starling as "sharp, acerbic, and almost illegally funny".
Tim Kevan practised as a barrister for over ten years at 1 Temple Gardens in London. He specialised in particular in sports law, personal injury, civil fraud and credit hire and wrote or co-wrote ten law books. He was also a member of the Bar Council’s Public Affairs Committee.
Tim told the Bar Council: “Having so far had ten very happy years practising at the Bar, it has been a wonderful opportunity in the last couple of years to do something a bit different and to create a book which will hopefully make people smile.”
Tim follows in a tradition of barristers writing legal comedy including Henry Cecil, Clive Coleman and the great John Mortimer and his famous Rumpole of the Bailey series. He is also the co-author (with Dr Michelle Tempest) of Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (xpl Publishing, 2007). For more information visit Tim’s website.

19.7.09

Good review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from John Bolch of the Family Lore blog

Nice review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from top blogger John Bolch of the Family Lore blog here and also below. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.

As someone who has always prided themselves in having a healthy irreverence for the legal profession, and being a regular reader of the BabyBarista blog in The Times, I anticipated that I would enjoy reading BabyBarista and The Art of War...

BabyBarista ('BabyB') is a pupil barrister, vying with three other pupils in his chambers for the lucrative prize of a tenancy. His pupilmaster tells him that "litigation is like war", and hands him a copy of The Art of War, the famous manual on warfare written in the 6th century BC by Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. The advice is not lost upon BabyB, who proceeds to utilise Sun Tzu's wisdom in his own war against his fellow pupils.

What follows is a non-stop romp through BabyB's year of pupillage, in which he (almost) shamelessly uses every underhand tactic available to him to ensure that it is he rather than his rivals who is awarded the coveted tenancy. Along the way we witness blackmail, deception and all manner of dirty tricks being employed by BabyB, yet we never lose affection for his character. Perhaps that is in part because some of the other characters are equally venal, or just plain unpleasant. And this does not just apply to the other pupils. Kevan paints a wonderful picture of not just the modern Bar but the legal profession generally as we meet greedy, vain and self-serving barristers, corrupt solicitors and even a shoplifting judge.

What of justice? Well, it hardly gets a look-in throughout, with the interests of the lawyers (including the judges) taking precedence, and cases being settled for their benefit (pecuniary or otherwise), rather than the benefit of the parties involved. "Like a croupier in a big casino, all they were doing was administering other people's bets" comments BabyB of claims lawyers. When we do get into a courtroom, we find that "for all its airs and graces" it "is just as much of a low-down, dirty free-for-all as pupillage", with decisions hinging upon the skills of the barristers, rather than on the merits of their cases. BabyB himself soon comes to this realisation: "you get the result you pay for”, he says, "as for justice, I think it's time we're honest and simply stick it on eBay and see what it fetches."

But the book is not just a one-dimensional tirade about the excesses of the legal profession. There are characters who really do care about what they are doing, and we are regularly treated to brief interludes that have little or nothing to do with the main story, but are amongst the most amusing parts of the book. I hesitate to use the cliché, but some of these are genuinely laugh-out-loud.

So, what is one to make of BabyBarista and The Art of War? It is obviously well thought-out and cleverly written, but was it Kevan's intention to 'blow the lid' on the profession? I think not. True, many of the plot lines and anecdotes contain a grain of truth, but this is not serious stuff, much as those with an axe to grind against the profession may wish it to be. The aim is unabashed amusement, the main players are intentionally caricatures and the plot lines are unashamedly exaggerated. The result is pure comedy: no more, no less.

Did I enjoy reading the book? You bet I did, and any lawyer who doesn’t is taking themselves too seriously. But this book is not just for lawyers – I would recommend it to anyone seeking an entertaining read this summer.

16.7.09

Nice review for 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from top blogger Geeklawyer

Very nice review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from top blogger Geeklawyer here and also below. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.

Baby Barista – the witness statement

Sometimes fiction is stranger than the truth. The truth is rarely visible in fictional accounts of the Bar, from Rumpole, This Life and onwards. We barristers are the subject of malice spite and envy from the failed barristers in the Cabinet right down to the Solicitor-Inadequates at the junior end of the profession, all of whom peddle their spite to any takers. At a time when the Bar Council is desperately attempting, and failing, to counter this black propaganda, BabyBarista enters the fray with his Machiavellian flailing, undoing all attempts at the rehabilitation of our image. Excellent.

BabyBarista is a fictional pupil at a fictional chambers and who blogs at The Times. The Art of War is the autobiography of his pupillage. BabyB is not a sympathetic character; like Geeklawyer he is scheming manipulative amoral disloyal calculating and backstabbing, but none of these virtues offset his essential badness. His only salvation comes from the fact that his rival pupils, competing against him for the single prized tenancy, are even more loathsome: ThirdSix and TopFirst are variously smug superior snobbish calculating and pretentious. Fine and necessary qualities in a barrister but not conducive to a spirit of camaraderie:

TopFirst telephoned me over the weekend. He said he wanted to talk about pupillage.
‘Look BabyB, we’re all in competition for tenancy, but let’s be realistic about this. Worrier and BusyBody are both now dead in the water and it’s developed into a straight fight between you and me.’
‘OK.’ No prizes for that one Mr Brainbox.
‘Well look, I’ve been thinking. You ever heard of the prisoner’s dilemma?’
‘[...] Yea, shows that cooperation’s often better than fighting.’
[...]
‘You’re suggesting a truce. Fine by me,’ I lied.
‘Exactly so. Fight and we may both die. Cooperate and there’s at least a small chance that maybe we’ll convince them to take us both on.’
‘Makes sense,’ I lied again. ‘You can count on me.’ [...]
… there will be no cooperation.


If you think only the pupils are oily rats then the barristers are just older more experienced versions: TheBoss – BabyB’s first pupilmaster. An unscrupulous, spineless coward, “You’re up to your neck in this, you realise,’ he told me. ‘If I go down I’m taking you with me.’“; OldSmoothie – a Peter Bowles character; TheVamp a cock hunting old slapper; TheBusker and OldRuin are, among others, old hack tenants in chambers who round out the sorry cast. This is one sorry improbable and deeply doomed set; no doubt soon to merge with Peckham Chambers and then vanish.

The Art of War is a hilarious parody of the profession and an engaging reprise of all the old cliches about us barristers. To those of us on the inside it was clearly this and no more: some of the scenarios were deeply implausible and the behaviour of the characters way beyond credibility, although it was this that rendered the humour. Geeklawyer worries a little, and somewhat hypocritically given his own blogging and Twittering behaviour, about whether this will be seen as pure humour by the public or if they will really imagine that judges and barristers will stitch them up just to get a round of golf in on a Friday? One really really hopes not.

The Art of War was a side-splitting read that Geeklawyer couldn’t put down: it gets his A+ recommendation. Open a new browser tab now and order it from Amazon immediately.
Tim Kevan, the recently outed ex-anonymous barrister behind BabyB, deserves a pat on the back for a great first novel. Geeklawyer hopes the second will arrive soon.

13.7.09

Great review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from top blogger Charon QC

Great review of 'BabyBarista and the Art of War' from top blogger Charon QC here and also below. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.
Boring barristers?… some are far from boring… BabyBarista and the Art of War
Marcel Berlins has stirred things up with his article in the Guardian suggesting the modern advocates lack the flair and atistry of their forebears…. and suggests that modern barristers are boring.
I don’t know the name of the vintner that author of BabyBarista Tim Kevan uses… but I am going to ask him… because whatever he was drinking as he plotted out and wrote BabyBarista and The Art of War... I want some… it certainly does the business.
Tim Kevan, who is a Cambridge man and a barrister himself (although for the present he has gone surfing and writing), has created a marvellously mendacious manipulating monster for the 21st Century in the form of BabyBarista who plots, lies, and manipulates his way through the twelve months of pupillage to try and defeat TopFirst, TheWorrier, BusyBody and late entrant ThirdSix to gain the coveted tenancy.
When I was at university in the early seventies I read Brothers-in-Law, AP Herbert, Megarry and then read the entire Rumpole series written by Sir John Mortimer QC in the Eighties. BabyBarista follows this fine lineage but does not try to copy it – quite the opposite. Tim Kevan weaves colour and story through brief description and good narrative and is bang up to date on his cliches (which I suspect are deliberate to parody pre and misconceptions) and icons of the modern world of blogs, Twitter and Facebook. He paints a wonderfully surreal picture of the Bar, stretching belief but at the same time leaving the reader wondering where the inspiration came from. We meet his pupil master TheBoss – a man with absolutely no spine who, shall we say, gets into some pretty difficult water. There is TheVamp – a woman I could probably enjoy meeting myself in all senses of the word, UpTights – not my type, OldSmoothie – a pretty hopeless case and the avuncular “Feel the force, Luke” character of OldRuin – the only truly honest barrister in the entire book – apart from the lovely Claire.
I liked the way Tim used his experience of practice to parody different scenarios, different styles of work and personality, and some of the changes the legal profession is going through. His section on claim farms and their handling of accident claims is just wonderful. We have a judge who plays online bridge during hearings, an Insurance company which settles cases with a barrister by playing Battleships – the old game from childhood – and we have general mayhem and riot. I was left hoping for more extreme behaviour from BabyBarista in his quest for pupillage, conscious that I was rooting for an appalling role model for the legal profession and I enjoyed every page. Cleverly, Tim grounds the entire book with the sub-text of SunTzu, The Art of War.
As with all authors there is the obligatory “All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain are fictitious and any resemblance… etc etc..”
I’m sure this is the case - but I couldn’t help putting a face to some of his characters from people I have met in my lifetime. This, of course, made it even more enjoyable for me. Roll on the next book.
BabyBarista is a Hogarthian romp, a parody, a satire with edge and I have no hesitation in finding for Tim Kevan and recommending it to you. Tim Kevan, a fellow blogger and friend, has done the business… and that, as my regular readers will have gathered, is my legion d’honneur… my highest accolade.. and it made me laugh… out loud.. as I read it lying in state on my futon with a bottle of Rioja to my left.