Have you got a minute?
What made you get into clerking?
After the reality kicked in that my dream of becoming an internationally recognised footballer was never going to happen, I had to start thinking about my career. I was always interested in law but equally I was hooked on working and earning money. That mentality was instilled in me by having three jobs from the age of 12!
A close family friend was a senior clerk at a large common law set, so I had some inside knowledge of what a barristers’ clerk was. Knowing that it was a career opportunity with the prominence of working with barristers in London excited me!
I arranged a summer work experience and it was safe to say, I never looked back. My first clerking position was at 2 Temple Gardens. Working in law, getting out in the big wide world and earning a living ticked all the boxes. At the time, fresh out of school, I felt like I had hit the jackpot!
You spent an illustrious 15 years in barristers’ chambers and were seen by many others and us as one of the leading ‘business generating’ clerks at the Bar. How did you see the nature of your role evolve over the years?
Recent years has seen greater market competition, ever-changing technology, less barriers and increased client expectation. This has heavily dictated changes in the industry.
There is more ambition at the Bar, generally – especially amongst the junior end and they too are arguably the driving force. This has generated a more collegial relationship between clerk/barrister (and chambers).
I am captivated by business and everything about it. To me, each barrister was treated like an individual business and I was their partner, fully invested in working with them to develop and maintain their business.
This mind-set has driven me to always succeed and deliver. I am addicted to spotting gaps, exploring new ideas or opportunities, putting together a strategic plan and implementing it. There was nothing more rewarding when you have a satisfied client, receive interest in what you are doing and see your methodology come to fruition.
So much more attention is spent on the client and their needs – what can we do for you, where can we add value and how am I going to break away from the competition. The same applies to me personally; I have always done something different and gone beyond the basics of what a clerk has been historically known for!
You were instrumental and invariably the architect in developing new areas of work for your chambers. What were the common themes other aspirational clerks could learn from?
My focus was always on what the client wants, market needs and where I will fit in.
To start with, I always spent time to understand what chambers is, who the members are including their strengths, weaknesses, skillsets and expertise.
Be a people person, get out there, build a network and regularly sit down or communicate with your existing (and chambers) client base. It is always good to catch up. I always held review meetings and set a personal agenda, asking for feedback, information and their opinions on the market generally.
I allotted “read and research” time in my diary. This isn’t for everyone, but it is what can set you apart. That time consists of market research and digesting industry published articles or newsletters. Not only are you up to speed with what is hot and what is not but you find some useful information that will assist you.
Listen, collate and analyse all information!
Those that set themselves apart have a natural instinct of how and where to take the information they’ve gathered. My entrepreneurial mind-set often sees me generate interests, leads, reputation and a financial return in various areas of expertise.
This process is constant, and to be successful in developing new areas you must understand your arena, know your angle and have a strategy. Always set realistic and measurable targets.
The International Arbitration Centre opened this year in London and you are about to launch Int-Arb Arbitrators which is a model created to suit an independent arbitrator. As Managing Director, how has your experience at the independent Bar shaped you for such an exciting challenge?
My experience at the Bar has been invaluable. A fun journey to say the least and I have achieved a great deal through huge dedication, strong work ethic, blood, sweat and tears – literally!
My previous role was senior clerk. I was (I believe) the youngest of my generation to reach that position. I worked incredibly hard to get to that position, carving my own direction. I am not one to shy away from a challenge or simply sit in the crowd. My mind-set and approach combined with the skills that I have learnt throughout my career are transferrable which has prepared me for such a move.
Investing in my own self-development has been key, always wanting to improve and strive to be the best.
Being at various sets of chambers with different areas of law, I have always adapted and applied my proven methodology. This does not come natural to everyone but you must take an interest in what you are doing and work at it.
Never underestimate a barristers’ clerk; a modern business leader in the legal industry. The key instrumental roles and skillsets has enabled me to be an integral part of running £multi-million businesses. In addition, there was a huge emphasis on marketing, business development, planning, strategising, negotiating deals, as well as providing support and guidance to individuals. These are just to name a few.
I am fully prepared for my new role due those opportunities I had at the Bar!
You are one of a few senior level clerks who have successfully gone on to further a career outside of the Bar – what advice would you give to others faced with such an opportunity?
You need to be confident in your own abilities, look at your track record in business and then take a leap of faith.
Ask yourself – what value do you add and what can you bring to the table. If you know in your own mind what you will do and how you will do it, then I think you know the answer.
What is Int-Arb Arbitrators what does the next year look like for you?
The year ahead is very exciting – Int-Arb Arbitrators is about to launch!
We have identified a need in the arbitral market, by creating a framework for arbitrators to operate freely and independently.
Members of Int-Arb Arbitrators will be supported by a team that has over 37 years of working with and managing barristers and arbitrators. Each will receive strategic business management and administrative services, ranging from diary and availability management, accepting appointments on their behalf and billing, down to marketing and business development.
Conflict is at the forefront of arbitration. Our offering benefits those who want to have a sole focus of sitting only as an arbitrator. Independence is key, and will also suit those that want to break away from their law firm, door or associate tenancy at chambers – or arbitrators that have no association and need support to accelerate their arbitral practice.
The aim is to grow our members list whilst at the same time, expanding, building a solid reputation and an internationally known brand.
Members will be announced soon – watch this space!
Vinit Khurana QC joins 2TG
2TG are excited to announce that Vinit Khurana QC (Scot.) has joined chambers with effect from 4 November 2019.
Vinit was called to the Bar in 1999. Since then he has practised as an advocate in Scotland and took silk there in 2018. Vinit is a specialist practitioner in the healthcare sector with experience across a broad range of medical law issues. He has the rare distinction of being dual qualified in law and medicine, having practised as a General Practitioner for over a decade.
Martin Porter QC, Head of Chambers, has said “We are thrilled that Vinit has agreed to join chambers. He brings to 2TG a wealth of experience and in particular in the healthcare sector, bolstering our already strong offering in the fields of clinical negligence and personal injury law”
Vinit has said “I am relishing the chance to take on a new challenge outside of Scotland and 2TG was the obvious set to me given its clear strengths in my key practice areas and the breadth of its work across the UK and overseas”
For full details on Vinit’s practice, please click here.
Hewetson & Co awarded Best Full-Service Legal Recruitment Firm 2019 – UK
We are honoured to be informed that Hewetson & Co has been been awarded:
Best Full-Service Legal Recruitment Firm – UK
How was Hewetson & Co selected?
The extensive research, submissions and judging process is driven 100% by merit, meaning that awardees must demonstrate expertise within a given field, dedication to client service and satisfaction, and an on-going commitment to excellence and innovation.
Research was centred around an in-depth evaluation of skills and services on offer. The wider market reputation of each nominee was also taken into consideration.
Enterprise Chambers today announces the arrival of commercial silk, Hugo Page QC, having joined from Blackstone Chambers
In a statement Senior Clerk, Michael Ireland, said: “I am delighted to welcome to Hugo Page QC to Enterprise Chambers. It is fantastic that we are able to attract a barrister of this quality and is a clear indication of Chambers’ commitment to growth and becoming ever present in the commercial market. Hugo’s arrival strengthens our commercial team greatly and enhances our depth and strength in civil fraud and banking.”
Hugo Page QC said: “I’ve had a fantastic time at Blackstone Chambers and leave behind many great friends, but I’m excited by the opportunity of a new challenge. I join Enterprise Chambers as its London-based commercial silk and hope to be able to make a significant contribution to the set’s ongoing growth and development.”
Tony Peto QC, joint head of Blackstone Chambers, said: “We are extremely sorry to see Hugo go and will miss him greatly at Blackstone. He is a valued colleague and a dear friend. We wish him every success in this next stage of his career.”
Hugo Page QC (1978 & QC 2002) is a highly respected commercial litigator whose experience covers all types of commercial disputes, civil fraud, asset recovery & injunctive relief, along with banking, insurance & reinsurance. Hugo has dealt with a number substantial fraud cases representing both Claimants and Defendants, with a particular emphasis on misfeasance by company directors and on tracing the proceeds of fraud in other jurisdictions.
Have you got a minute?
Why did you become a clerk?
39 years ago the way into clerking was very different to today. My Dad was a Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard and one of his fellow officer’s sons was already a clerk in chambers. There was a job offered word of mouth for a Junior Clerk and it was decided I was going to be the one applying for it. Dad took me to 8 New Square the following day to introduce me to Robin Soule the Senior Clerk and, after Robin just chatting to my Dad for half an hour, finally spoke to me and told me I was starting Monday at £50 a week.
Why did you stick at it?
We worked like Trojans as junior clerks but we also played hard too. All of us junior clerks at the different chambers being in it together got us through those early years of pushing the trollies and friendships were made that have stood the test of time. The other reason being that this was something I was really good at. Being a people person by nature and combining that with common sense, empathy, good intuition and a sense of humour, I by chance had the unique skill set every clerk needs.
There was a short film made about you recently to accompany a nomination for a Lifetime Contribution Award to Legal Services. How did you find the experience of people talking about you on screen?
I found the idea of a film being made about me slightly uncomfortable as I am usually the one standing in the shadows, but when I saw the film, it wasn’t just about me, but acknowledged what all clerks do for their Barristers and indeed the whole Justice System. I’m not expecting to win any awards, but as my Mum tactfully said to me, “It will be nice to show at your memorial service one day”. If you have a spare 7 minutes 36 seconds and are unlikely to come to my memorial service, you can find it on this link: https://youtu.be/IqMXi1E-ATk
For as long as we’ve known you, you’ve been a champion of the Bar Pro Bono Unit, recently rebranded to Advocate www.weareadvocate.org.uk, where you are a trustee. How is the charity coping in the current climate of government cuts to legal aid, and save legal expertise, how is it best to get involved?
I have been honoured to be a trustee for Advocate, and also Bar in the Community for a number of years now. Having always preached to members of the Bar about paying it forward, I decided my best way of doing this was to get more involved with the legal charities and do whatever I could with my limited skill set to help.
The encouragement and enthusiasm I have had from our inspirational Chairman, Sir Robin Knowles, has made helping move Advocate forward such a pleasure. Equally, the hard work and determination of our management team of Jess and Mary and all the staff team just make you want to do your best for them, and of course all the people we try to help. As to the continuing cuts to legal aid, my admiration for the many members of the Bar who are taking these cuts to their earnings year after year but still volunteer and continue to step up to the plate and take on our cases for no fee at every level of seniority, are all Bar champions. Equally the Judiciary, Inns of Court, Professional Bar Associations, Bar Council and of course the many chambers champions do amazing work. I also cannot stress enough how much help clerks and chambers staff bring to Advocate by encouraging their members to get involved in covering cases and running fundraising events for us. Without their constant support, we would not be able to make Advocate succeed in helping so many people. Anyone looking to get involved in anyway please contact Advocate and we will be delighted to hear from you. As Jess always reminds me “It’s Advocate as in donate”, so if all you have time to do is help us with a donation, that’s brilliant too.
Have you read the Secret Barrister’s book and how fair a picture do you feel it portrays of the current criminal justice system?
I must confess I came to the party slightly late and was given a copy for Christmas. What an amazing book. I have been a Senior Clerk at the specialist Bar for the past 21 years, but having started my career clerking members of the Criminal Bar and running round the Crown Courts, I feel I can still relate to the issues raised in the book. We all need to lobby and fight for change to keep our justice system alive and working properly. A quick plug for one of the other great legal reads of last year is the “The Independent Bar: Insights into a Unique Business Model” which is published by Globe Law and Business and available in all good bookshops and Amazon. I was invited to produce a chapter on Pro Bono and CSR and some far more talented clerks and associated friends than myself produced other chapters for this the first published book for anyone involved in the care and management of barrister’s practices and running a set of chambers.
What are your two favourite anecdotes from your career so far at the Bar?
The golden rule is never, ever tell anecdotes about your present set, so let’s talk about the good old bad old days. When I started at 8 New Square, in 1980, Robin the Senior Clerk liked to entertain the clients over from Hong Kong by taking them to London’s most fashionable nightclubs.
Robin was a most generous host and insisted on this occasion that this 18 year old junior clerk should be his wingman. By the time I left the nightclub at 3.30am the following morning, tired and emotional, I walked to chambers and begged the night porter to let me in to get a few hours sleep in chambers. My bed for the night would be Sir Graham Eyre’s beautiful long conference table with his Silk gown wrapped around me as my blanket and his red bag as my pillow. Next morning I woke up, stretched, took a deep breath and sensed I was not alone in the room. I turned and just behind me, head down working very quietly on his closing speech, was Sir Graham. This called for me to brazen it out. “Morning Sir”, I said as confidently as I could muster, thinking this was game over for me. Sir Graham just looked up, rose to his feet, gave me a smile and said “you’ve obviously been out with Robin last night learning clerking. I’ll go and make you a cup of coffee.”. Many years later when I first became a Senior Clerk in my present set, Sir Graham walked into my new chambers on my very first day saying he wanted to meet with the newest Senior Clerk in Gray’s Inn. A sadly missed Governor who passed far too early.
Anthony Scrivener QC was another amazing man to clerk. His talent was exceptional and as a junior clerk he scared the bejesus out of you, but once you commanded his trust and respect, he treated you as his one of his own.
When he passed away, every one of us who had clerked him cried like babies. He must have fired me at least a dozen times and reinstated me an hour later over the years I clerked him. He appeared in every type of case for every type of client imaginable and was the first member of the Bar to command a million-pound brief fee. Spend just five minutes on Google to understand what a true legend of the Bar he really was. He and I both shared a passion for cars. If he wasn’t a member of the Bar, Scriv was good enough to be a racing driver. He had so many beautiful and unusual cars over the years but the one I loved the most was his beautiful green Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 litre Saloon he called Fred.
Fred was as large as a house boat but he drove that car faster than anyone thought possible and kept getting pulled over for speeding. Nine times out of ten he would sweet talk his way out of it but one day I noticed a club tie appear wrapped round his car headrest. I asked what it was all about and he told me at a recent trial he had explained to the Police Officer witnesses he was always getting stopped for speeding. At the end of the trial the Police Officers presented him with honorary membership of the International Police Federation complete with club tie, car bumper stickers and a lapel badge. He never got any more tickets after that, nor did he drive any slower.
How fairly is the Bar depicted in the media?
Like all professions, it gets its share of fake news and the term fat cat lawyers gets dragged out far too often, when we all know the reality of the current situation is most of the Bar are having a really tough time financially, whilst still doing their very best for their clients every day. I find myself wincing at some of the comments said on social media about the Bar as I tend to only use it to show off my holiday pictures and moan to South Eastern Rail about the state of the trains.
What would you say to your younger self?
I would say don’t take on other people’s unreasonable, emotional burdens. You can only do your very best in this job and if you know you have done everything possible for your barrister or colleague in the clerks room to make that person’s life easier/better, and that is still not enough for them, you need to understand it is probably not down to you. You will find in life a very small number of people have baggage they carry with them that effects their outlook on life, and rather than them facing and dealing with their problems, they will try and get you to carry them instead. Thankfully, it has not happened to me that often but it took me a while to recognise the signs when it has. These kind of issues are now being picked up by wellbeing training and support for clerks that gives you the tools you need to support yourself in these situations. Make good use of them is my advice.
You’re at the top of your game – what would you say to any ambitious clerk?
I’d say look at the long game. If you want to be doing this a long time then make good friends early on in the job that you can grow up with and will support you in the years to come. Learn your craft, not only through the management training courses available, but more importantly watching and being around the people who are so obviously good at clerking and what they do and see how they do it. Be confident without being cocky and always make a decision, it may not be the right one, but at least you’ve made it and try and always help your fellow clerk. Invest time in your Barristers and do whatever you can to make their life easier and their practices successful. Most of all enjoy every day of it, as take my word, this is the best job in the world.