Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Trials and tribulations

A big thank you to the one and only person who has found my blog, and not only that, apparently read my first post and even troubled to pen an encouraging comment! Its a start, I suppose, and may herald the opening of a floodgate as thousands flock to my blog eager to read my occasional musings. Ever the optimist I thought it right to express my gratitude to this visionary reader boldly browsing where no man has gone before, in advance of my blog crashing as a result of the millions rushing to read my postings! My dear twitter friend @disklabs you will always have the pleasure of knowing you were here first!.....and possibly last as my optimism is probably misplaced. It often is.

Speaking of optimism I have had a fairly good run of acquittals recently, which is great. Thats not always the case and sometimes a barrister has a run of cases that are so hopeless that the Good Lord himself could not win them. The old acquittal is good for morale because even after 18 years in practice the intensity of emotions and the pride an acquittal generates remain completely and utterly undiminished. That is what has kept me at the Bar regardless of the huge cost we pay in following our vocation practising law. We make a difference to people's lives and in so doing play a part in the direction of the future of our world. And this is not hyperbole, you know. I sometimes think about the client I successfully defend on, for example a charge of murder. If I had lost the case he would spend his useful life in prison. By winning he belongs to the world and has his own place in history. He might have children, who themselves might have children and so on ad infinitum. Any one of those countless generations might do wonderful things or in some way be part of the history that is our past. But had I lost that case, and had my client not been in the world to leave his mark upon it, then those countless generations, those countless lives that were to follow his who would have influenced and affected thosands more and so on.....well, but for me, they would never even have existed. And our future would immutably be different as a result....

It is in these philosophical and contemplative moments that I think in defending my clients I am not only fighting for the individual, but for the timeless future generations that depend upon his place in a generational chain for their very existence! In so musing, I often ask what worthier calling there could possibly be than one in which histories and futures are determined by the outcome of my efforts?

Of course the fact I am damn good at what I do may also have played a less virtuous but not insignificant part in my love affair with the law. Now on these occasions the future of my client, let alone the world is not even given a passing thought! Nothing so deep and serious...and frankly boring! To know you are good, to have a jury tell you so through their verdict is a pleasure beyond reckoning. There have been times in my professional life - electric cross examinations, closing speeches that I know have touched something inside those who were listening - that have given me more joy, made me more alive in the essence of who I am than in any other aspect of my life. The vocation that is the Bar gives those privileged enough to have been called to it highs unobtainable to most. But inevitably there is a price to pay for these privileges. Although a love affair with the law is a lifelong relationship, she is a demanding mistress. Sleepless nights, stress, fear, faltering courage, insecurity, self doubt, disappointment, humiliation and horror are but few of the countless but inevitable facets of the life of a barrister, and there is no avoiding running into them when they cross our path. They are as glued to our calling as our shadows are to our feet.

These are the trials and tribulations of a life at the Bar. And to each of those barristers practising in the courts up and down the country I am sure they are as individual as fingerprints. Knowing this, I thought an account of my highs and lows as a criminal barrister might be worth recording, and, who knows, might be considered worth reading?

And so that is what my blog will be about.