About the Author


The Myersonettes

img_0491I promised them…

I am a barrister practising from St Paul’s Chambers in Leeds on the North Eastern Circuit for crime and from Byrom Street Chambers in Manchester on the Northern Circuit for civil. I was suitably prepared for life at the bar by the constant, grinding, ceaseless and unremitting study of law.

I graduated in 1984, married Nicole in 1987 and moved from London to Leeds at the same time. Since then I have developed some sort of a practice, had 4 children (all girls as you can see above. And is that a CUTE photo or what?) and put on 2 stone and (according to my family though I can’t myself see it) another couple of chins. I feel that I now conform to the public ideal of my profession, although I don’t recall being an evil parasite who is only interested in denuding the Treasury of all its money – or a banker as we cognoscenti call them. I simply strive towards four weddings and a bankruptcy.

We have 2 dogs called Ziggy and Zara who are gorgeous and act according to type. She is a princess and he was behind the door when the brains were handed out. img_2303

For my sins I support Leeds United – if you are tempted to laugh just remember that I sit as a Recorder, so I can send you to prison. The consolation used to be that the rest of my family is bound to Middlesborough AFC, which conclusively proved that every cloud has a silver lining. When Middlesborough were in Europe (and there wasn’t even a war) there was no consolation.

You are reading this because you want, you mad fool you, to be a barrister. There are no guarantees but this will, I hope, help. Field testing suggests that it does – hence the strapline above which Ronseal (who do not pay me) should take as a compliment. If they sue I will post an appeal for a fighting fund. I am writing this because there is quite a lot of stuff I wish I had known (and I was a very privileged applicant) and now I do know it I see no reason not to share it. Plus, it’s relaxing – sort of.

I have included some less than useful jokes on their own page. The excuse is that it is everyone’s job to wring as much pleasure from life as they legitimately (important word that) can and thus there should be the minimum possible divide between business and pleasure. The more serious stuff is in the Editorial a mere click away …


A Successful Get Away from the Judge…

 

36 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. Thank you, I think. And you’re a professional footballer from Belarus so congratulations on the law degree. If, on the other hand, you are merely an Arsenal fan, commiserations. Although Hull is a nice place…

  2. I would like to know how I could obtain pupillage. I was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in November 2004. I am a very hardworking person. I can send you my CV if you let me know.
    I look forward to hearing from you
    With regards

  3. Simon, congratulations on the result in Levi v Bates – the right result, I fancy, from what I read of it. Did you ever feel that you were conflicted, however, as a Leeds United supporter who was representing the person suing their chairman?

  4. A non-practicing Barrister is challenging the Bar Council in the Employment Tribunal over compulsory funding of pupillages rule. The Claimant alleges Indirect Race Discrimination against the Bar Council. The Claimant is Black African!

    Venue : London Central Employment Tribunal

    Hearing Dates: 26-28 August 2009

  5. Hi Simon,

    Your blog is invaluable, and I have been observing from the wings for some time. I now however would appreciate your thoughts.

    I completed the BVC in 08, and since then have had 7 interviews. I missed out on my 1st choice chambers (provincial) on a vote of 2-1, and was placed on the reserve list for another chambers in London.

    I do, I believe, tick all the ‘barrister candidates must have’ boxes: I have 2x scholarships, a masters, ran my own company, undertook several minis, taught Westlaw for Sweet & Maxwell for 2 years, and had a career as a rugby player before coming to law earlier than originally planned through injury (I am 28)

    My first choice chambers have re-interviewed me and turned me down for a second time. what I would like to know is, what the chuff can I do to go one step further and obtain an offer?

    The one thing I have lacked to date is real advocacy experience, so I put myself through FRU as an employment rep and took up a position as a county court advocate (solicitor’s agent) to gain experience (although this is relatively recent).

    I am, I believe, a friendly chap, I get on well with most, and I have a genuine, not rehearsed, interest in law and current affairs.

    Friends tell me ‘if you’re good enough to get interviews you’re good enough to get pupillage’ but I am truly concerned that this isn’t the case. My entire life has gone on hold while I send out applications, my poor girlfriend has to put up with my cloudy moods, and I find myself for the first time not knowing what to do!

    Any thoughts would be gratefully received!

  6. Hi there! I had a quick browse through your website and loved it so thank you for the time and help you put up there for me and everybody! I just had a quick question and I didn’t really know who else to ask….I completed a law degree, graduated in June, now I am doing a masters at Manchester University in MA Crime, Law and Society…I am determined to go into the criminal law field…eventually as a barrister…..although I know that my CV is probably at the bottom end so it will be tricky…and I was just wondering out of a MA in crime, law and soceity, a candidate who has obtained a Masters in Research in Criminology and socio-legal studies and a Masters in Law…which one would be better received? sorry lengthy way to ask a short question, hope you can decipher some form of meaning and help! thanks again, hope to hear from you soon xx

  7. hey i am only a teeneger but one of my dream jobs are being a barrister and i just want you to tell me whether i could be a barrister even though i am not very clever well i belive i am in between. another question is a barrister and lawyer the same. and can you explain to me is a very simple way of what i need to know to be a barrister thank you:)

  8. Hi Simon, Thanks for your comment. Sorry I hadn’t already linked to your blog in my first few links. Would it be possible to change the links on your site to my new blog? No worries either way. Thanks again. Best wishes, Tim

  9. Dear Mr Myerson,
    1) Your service is extremely useful. Thank you, thank you. Especially your essay Principles of Cross-Examination. I’ve also read your blog on becoming a barrister, which is my aim. I’m starting the GDL at the College of Law in London in late September this year (2010). I then hope to progress to the BPTC, being called, dv, in summer 2012. But by autumn 2012 I’ll be 64. There are instances of long-practising barristers, most notably Michael Worsley QC in your part of England, who went on till 84. Do you know of any barristers who started their careers as late in life as I aim to do and built up reasonably lucrative practices, in whatever branch of law, not just criminal as Worsley did? Assuming such cases exist, they were presumably in the ‘old days’. On the other hand, one hopes to live longer these days. And prejudice against age seems less strong in the Law than most places. What I’m getting at really is, do I have a hope in hell, assuming that I do well enough academically otherwise and land a pupillage (inter alia by not at interview lecturing my betters on points of English usage they way I do with you below, qv)?

    2) You at least twice (once in your cross-examination essay, again in your blog) use the form ‘peccadilloes’ [sic; see Fowler, Modern English Usage {OUP, corrected edn 1950}, on -oes v. -os plurals in long or ‘alien-looking or otherwise queer’ words {p. 397, col. 1, SS. 6 & 7}, though even Fowler admits the rule is not hard-and-fast].

    Further, you do so in a context where ‘traits’ or, a bit less neutrally, ‘idiosyncrasies’ would be more apt. I suggest that since ‘peccadillo’ means literally ‘little sin’ and by extension in ordinary usage ‘small misdemeanour’ this is not only inaccurate but potentially defamatory if used of an individual, especially a judge, since a collection of misdemeanours, however small singly, might in aggregate amount to dishonesty. But perhaps I’m sounding like a sea lawyer. For all I know jurists expert in defamation have written long treatises on ‘peccadillo’. (Just almost, but not quite, kidding.)

    Yours truly gratefully,
    Charlers Mosley

    1. Charles, your problem will be a pupillage rather than practice, because solicitors are unlikely to be put off by experience. How long you can go on for will depend to a large extent on your health. But if you can get started I see no reason why you should not build up a reasonable practice. Chambers may, however, be concerned about your age – I recommend a medical (seriously) and an attention to perceived problems of commitment in your application. The prospect of a 65 year old genuinely wanting 80 hour weeks is one you need to tackle.

      As to peccadilloes – the meaning of the term in this context is ‘a slight fault’ (Skeat’s Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language 4th Ed [1894]). I don’t regard that as defamatory – even Moses was imperfect. Moreover, even the most self-regarding Judge is unlikely to sue if I can plead justification with reference to a slight fault, although it would make for extremely entertaining litigation. The spelling – and this is true generally – is the first version I tried that the spell checker lets through. In this case both versions are acceptable to MS Word, which suggests that the Microsoft team have a copy of Fowler.

      1. Dear Simon,

        Once again, many thanks.

        1) Presumably the best time to take a medical exam would be just before applying for pupillage, no?

        2) I’ve been putting in 80-hour weeks for a quarter of a century, not least in fighting four civil actions, now discontinued, over the last two and a quarter years, plus a fifth a mere 10 months old and still kicking, while writing books, tending a disabled wife, walking two dogs, making 140 job applications, attending IT, e-marketing and website optimisation courses and a law college summer school…, so that’s no problem – as yet. I say ‘as yet’, since a future sudden downturn in my stamina is a possibility I’d be foolish to ignore.

        3) Skeat is an etymologist – I recall using him for Chaucer when reading English at your and my alma mater 43 years ago – rather than guide to current usage, and an 1894 citation for the latter’s weak anyway.

        4) Re peccadillos: a) never mind Moses, what about Jahweh and Job? Further, the procedural irregularities are disquieting, especially the lack of any appellate stage, in JYWH v. Adam and Another over the injunction against fruit-picking (both applied for and allowed then enforced by the former in his triple role as litigant, judge and executing authority akin to bailiff).

        5) MS Word – hmmm. An indifferent authority.

        6) Isn’t justification a weak defence in defamation?

        I know you’re a busy man. None of the above points need an answer bar 1).

      2. 1. Yes.

        As far as The Lord is concerned, it appears that Adam chose to leapfrog the Court of Appeal (or possibly it was complicit in the crime). Justification can work fine – but it has to be true which is often a problem…

  10. I don’t know how I happened on your website but thankfully I did! You are a breath of fresh air! It’s good to know that the US criminal system has a least ONE sane person among it!

    Love to you and your family

    Clive, from England, West Mersea xx

    clive.tyler@hotmail.co.uk
    07867 653929

  11. Hi,

    I am a 3rd year student looking to start mt BPTC next September. I just really want to say thank you for all of the advice you have provided, it is so helpful.

    I am currently filling out an application form for a place on the Bar couse, and I was wondering if you had any tips?

    Thank you!

    Krishma.

  12. Dear Simon,
    I wonder if you’d help me with a couple of questions, i’m not really sure who else to ask. I’d be especially grateful for honest answers – bad news is best faced, not avoided.
    I’m from Ireland.
    I have a very good law degree from an Irish University.
    I’m doing the BCL this year.
    I didn’t get a scholarship.
    (Wales and nashes teeth:)) I’d love to know exactly what factors they take into account in deciding who get’s those – maybe you do. Obviously I realize competition’s fierce, as Irish people only qualify for ARCHSS and faculty awards.

    Anyway, I’ve applied for mini-pupilages with a couple of top commercial sets.
    I have an interview, to decide if I get an assessed mini-pupilage from one.
    Having looked on their websites, all their recent tenants have done either the BCL or Harvard’s LLM and have truck loads of scholarships.
    Do I have a chance or should I cut my cloth?
    I’m considering a PHD – would that count for or against me? E.G if I asked for a deferral – after all they are recruiting for years away.
    Finally, how do you think chambers would react to the fact that i’m visually impaired? It hasn’t stopped me doing the work in college, or working but might they (indeed do you) think it might make me unsuited to act as an advocate?

    1. Dear G,

      I am intrigued as I am in circumstances somewhat similar to your own. Having completed my law degree I gained a place on the BCL. I am seeking information on the extent to which successful completion of the BCL (or the prospect thereof) actually assists in gaining pupillage. Any thoughts in light of your own experience?

      Yours,

      AJR

  13. Simon,

    I’m a great fan. I’m currently studying the GDL in York and have applied for the BPTC in Manchester next year. I’d like to thank you for writing this blog. It’s been really helpful and, despite your endless warnings, quite reassuring! Hopefully see you on circuit one day!

  14. Hi Simon

    I am a third year LLB student at the University of Wolverhampton and this year’s President of the University’s Bar and Mooting Society, for which I have created a website to provide members with information about pursuing a career at the Bar.

    I have been reading your excellent website and find it to be highly instructive. Would you mind if I put a link from my website to yours in the “links” section?

    I would also value any feedback you have on the website. If you would like to take a look at it the address is: barandmootingsociety.webs.com

    I look forward to hearing from you soon

    Kind regards

    Stephanie

  15. Hi Simon,

    I have a few quick questions that I hope you can answer –

    I’m a third year law student from a non-Russel Group university (just lower), and I’m studying on an Erasmus year abroad. I know that I am more than capable of a life at the bar but personal life came thundering in in my second year, and I only got a middle 2:2. I have no doubts whatsoever that I will leave university with a 2:1, and, more likely a 1:1. My past academic record at GCSE and A-Level has been very good and I’ve picked up the odd extra qualification on the way. I have quite a comprehensive CV in activities and volunteering.

    My questions are – just how much will my ‘bad’ results affect me – there were no mitigating circumstances, and how much will my year abroad make up for this, if at all?

    I have done a good amount of work experience M-P, M-M, observing etc. and the reports seem to be good.

    Thanks for the blog!

    W

  16. Hello Simon – I’m really interested about what you might have to say about the Millie Dowler case which has caused so much controversy about victim/family treatment. I would be fascinated to see a post on the subject!

    Thanks,
    Adam

  17. Dear Simon,

    I have the QLTT expiring Aug 2013, have gained 7 months experience working for a firm for free, left as cannot afford to do so any more.

    I am doing a lot of representation at the Tribunals. however, those instructing are not solicitors, they are simply advisers etc whom send me their clients to represent at the Tribunals.

    I am finding it very difficult for a solicitors firm to take me on at the moment.

    What shall I do to ensure that I can get the two years experience, of course, one of which has to be in English Law, the second can be in common law.

    Will my experience of supervised by a non lawyer be considered as the common law experience?

  18. Dear Simon,

    Back in 2007/2008, I was an avid reader of your blog. I had just finished uni and considering investing a lot of dosh on a career at the Bar. My parents are taxi drivers and I didn’t have a clue where to start but stumbled across your blog and found it incredibly helpful. Your postings covered everything and enabled me to embark on this arduous journey with my eyes firmly open. Four years later (two years working as a driver myself, a daughter and and feeling like a different person) I have finally managed to secure pupillage at a commercial set in London. Having just come back to your site in the last week or so since being accepted, I have been reminded of the start of my journey and how much help your site provided my youthful self!

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the time you have dedicated to the blog. I never felt the need to comment on your site but considered myself part of the silent majority who were very grateful for your efforts and insider’s view of the Bar.

    I hope you continue to blog as much of what you said helped get me through those times when I felt like giving up.

    Best regards

  19. Hi Simon,

    Was just wondering if you could give some advice on getting third sixes. I am in that situation now, and it seems like it is as difficult as getting pupillage itself (which took me 4 1/2 years of applying to get). There are few places advertising, and again not having a first seems to get your application thrown straight in the bin.

    Any tips?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Anna,

      I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties.

      I hate to be nosy, but my anxiety has already shifted from obtaining pupillage, to obtaining tenancy. From your post, it appears that either you didn’t want to continue at your first set or unfortunately they didn’t take you on. If the latter, do you mind telling why that might have been the case???

  20. Hi Simon,

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on obtaining third sixes as well…..

    I start pupillage soon and wonder whether it would be a good idea to be marketing myself from the outset and aim to pick up small bits of work in my second six?? (i.e. Would I be thought of attempting to run before I can walk??) and do you have any novel tips to secure work this early on? (assuming the answer is yes to the first question!)

    Many thanks

  21. Hi Simon, I wanted to know if you thought someone on the wrong side of 45, from the construction industry (architect), would stand a chance of switching to a Law career, or is it simply too little, too late? (time & productive years left) I know nothing worthwhile in life is easy but is it achievable? Many thanks for any advice you can give.

    1. If you’ve got £27,000+ for your degree, then £15,000+ for your post grad quali…plus your books, time, etc etc…for what…? Is it ‘for love’? Do you have £50,000+ to spend on an academic degree, followed by a vocational degree that is almost useless in practice, just for the kick or kudos…If, so then go for it… I did, before the fees went up…Older than you. I now am an Outdoor Clerk, Mediation Advocate and McKenzie Friend, with ‘nothing more’ than a 2:1 LL.B (Hons.) and I’m enjoying every minute of it…but I only ‘speculated’ just over £9,000…I may well be the last mature candidate for a long time…if ever…Unless you prove me wrong… You’ll learn a lot, about the law, the profession, yourself…just don’t expect to get rich, or even remunerated at all… If you’re not doing it for the money and can afford it, do it…you’ll love it…otherwise..think about being an ‘expert’ in construction disputes…Good fees, but can take time to build a reputation and client base… Good luck.

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