60 second interviews

The diversity of the employed Bar.

A popular misconception when considering the employed Bar is assuming that roles are either in a solicitor’s firm or in the Government Legal Service or CPS. Dispelling this myth, Melissa Coutinho continues her series of 60 second interviews which demonstrate the diversity of work that employed lawyers undertake.


MARK MCCONNOCHIE is a Lawyer with TRANSPORT FOR LONDON

When were you called?

1996.

How did your career progress?

Very slowly; but definitely upwards...

How did you get your current post?

Transfer from another part of the Mayoral family!

What is the best part of your job?

The variety of work and legal issues that I come across.

What is its greatest challenge?

The politics; need I say more?

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am 50% English, 25% Scottish, 12.5% Indian, 12.5% French.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully, healthy, happy and enjoying my work.

Do you think there are likely to be more employed opportunities in the future?

I do.

 

TIM READING is Associate General Counsel for BP

When were you called?

1981.

How did your career progress?

Post an admiralty pupillage, I could not get an admiralty tenancy. So, I looked around for complementary roles and joined a marine liabilities insurance mutual as a claims handler for two years; joined BP p.l.c. as a shipping lawyer in 1984 and have stayed there ever since in a variety of legal roles, including a two year secondment to BP Australia in the minerals, coal and company secretariat, six years in BP Chemicals and 17 years back in BP Shipping, as Associate General Counsel since 2009.

What is the best part of your job?

Practising in my specialist field and being part of the business’ Management Team.

What is its greatest challenge?

Never knowing where in the world and under what laws the next operational challenge for our fleet will occur.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

If I had not become a shipping lawyer I would have wanted to be a farmer.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Retired in the Bavarian Alps.

Do you think there are likely to be more employed opportunities in the future?

Yes. As companies search for more cost eff ective procurement of legal services and realise the non-financial value of having in-house legal resources, there should be many more opportunities. The only danger is that as the Bar/BSB makes it so difficult to complete pupillage and achieve/maintain practising status for those not intending to pursue traditional court-based advocacy that in-house practice may become the exclusive preserve of solicitors who appear to have more flexibility.

 

MARK ENGELMAN is currently a self-employed barrister and Head of IP at Hardwicke Chambers but was previously Head of Legal at The Body Shop

When were you called?

1987.

How did your career progress?

Post pupillage, I joined Clifford Chance. I was then employed by Dunlop Slazenger as corporate counsel. I then came back to the Bar but was permitted to take on the role as co-director of Alexander McQueen’s company, Autumn Paper, and sit on the development council of The Globe Theatre. Later, when I returned to the Bar, I was appointed a Bencher of Gray’s Inn.

How did you get your post at The Body Shop?

I was lucky to be head hunted from Dunlop Slazenger.

What was the best part of your job?

Working with the late Anita Roddick before the sale to L’Oreal, and trying to second guess her eclectic approach to business, ensuring that her vision was incorporated into agreements between The Body Shop and other companies and organisations.

What’s the greatest challenge of employed practice?

Clearing the global market for The Body Shop of smell-alikes branded White Musk. It culminated in an extremely complex witness statement of an Oregon-based mathematician which sought to demonstrate whether a consumer could confuse different brands of White Musk based upon their scent alone. Explaining mathematical algorithms in simple words felt like eating spaghetti with a tooth pick.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I recently judged a moot at HMP Pentonville between members of the Oxford Union and the inmates trained-up by the Gray’s Inn charity Vocalise - I found it a life-changing experience which I would recommend to others. Barristers whether employed or self-employed can help their Inns in so many ways now.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I have a fear of looking back, reading this article and wondering why I failed to achieve what I set out to do when answering. I always felt that by practising law we become participators not merely observers of life; so that is something I hope I will be able to say I achieved in 10 years’ time.

Do you think there are likely to be more employed opportunities in the future?

I have just become the alternate for the intellectual property Bar on the Bar Council. In a previous life I was an elected member on the Bar Council for BACFI and its Chairman designate. This demonstrates one example of the portability of skills between the self-employed and employed Bar. The new regime proposed by the BSB now permits barristers to form associations with others allowing them to share premises in order to pool both risks and resources. I expect to see people move between chambers, firms of solicitors and corporations in a seamless fashion. There will be many more employed opportunities for barristers created by these multidisciplinary practices.

 

JAI HADGRAFT is an Adjudication Co-ordinator with the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

When were you called?

2010.

How did your career progress?

I did not get pupillage, so after Bar School I did mainly pro bono work along with not very good pupillage applications. I worked for the Law Society Action Team, ATLeP (which is a network of lawyers and other specialist practitioners who advise, represent and support victims of trafficking), along with doing my LLM. I also volunteered as an Appropriate Adult for my local Police authority assisting vulnerable people at interview and on Operation Clean Slate (an initiative that allows vulnerable people who have committed crimes to make full disclosure but as the name suggests have the slate wiped clean). After that I did some journalism, working on nights of the individual before coming to my current post.

How did you get your current post at the MPTS?

I applied to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service as it appeared to be fertile ground to rehearse case preparation and observe hearings, while contributing personally.

What is the best part of your job?

The hearings, without a doubt. I enjoy anticipating the arguments that advocates on both sides will make. I need to identify the relevant facts for preparing a draft determination. I get to prepare a case and then see if what other lawyers do match that. There is also the opportunity to listen to some good advocates – and some bad ones – and see what styles and techniques most effectively appeal to the Panel.

What was its greatest challenge?

There is a lot to do and everything is time critical. Preparation for hearings means ensuring that appropriate paperwork is available for parties and being Panel Secretary during the hearing means working with many different personalities. For the MPTS a Panel Secretary must be able to draft a determination, summarise relevant points that have been considered by the Panel, making the initial decision on the level of detail to include regarding fact, law, arguments put forwarding and the rationale of the Panel. Post the hearing, I am responsible for the follow up required by legislation. This involves relevant parties being informed of events.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I have successfully run several of my own businesses, while bringing up a family.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Ideally, having done pupillage and working in a legal job. My current post is a stepping stone for me, until I get an opportunity to be on my feet as an advocate myself. That said, it is a brilliant training ground for legal awareness and procedure. Even if I do not get a pupillage, I would hope to move to casework/presenting for a regulatory body and help people, especially the most vulnerable, or work for an enforcement body.

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Melissa Coutinho

Melissa Coutinho is a lawyer for the Government Legal Service An accredited arbitrator, qualified PPM practitioner and a magistrate, she also writes and lectures on medical products and their regulation.