BabyBarista and The Art of War

Tim Kevan
Bloomsbury, August 2009
£11.99 (Paperback)

 


BabyBarista began life as a blog written by Tim Kevan, who was taking time out from his practice at 1 Temple Gardens. It quickly became a hit and was picked up by The Times, who offered to host the blog, expanding its audience out of the niche world of the legal blogosphere and into the mainstream. Whilst it was originally written anonymously, Kevan chose to “out” himself as the author earlier this year, after much speculation as to who was behind the BabyBarista mask.

Written in a lively and engaging style, BabyBarista has more than enough laughs to keep the reader on the right side of the dubious ethical path plotted by the central protagonist as he takes on his fellow pupils, TopFirst, BusyBody, Worrier and ThirdSix. Taking Sun Tzu’s Art of War as his guide, BabyB weaves an increasingly tangled web as the year unfolds, as he attempts to keep on the right side of his pupilmaster, instructing solicitor and the Bar Standards Board. But Kevan also tackles the more thorny questions of professional misconduct and the financial hardship suffered by many members of the junior Bar.

Whilst Kevan may not present life at the Bar in the rosiest light, he clearly has a genuine affection for the profession. Characters such as OldRuin (described as Dumbledore meets Clarence, the angel from It’s A Wonderful Life) and TheBusker are drawn with real warmth and understanding. BabyBarista is part of a long-standing tradition of legal fiction, and it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn with Rumpole and the hugely overrated Henry Cecil.

But it is the world of the blog to which BabyBarista owes the most. One suspects that BabyBarista would be as much at home with the backstabbing, corporate world of Jeremy Blachman’s Anonymous Lawyer, as he is in the Inns of Court. The very nature of a blog as an “online confessional”, lends itself well to the often isolated world of the legal profession. This popularity is reflected in the lively mix of legal bloggers, where Simon Myerson QC’s Pupillage and How to Get It, and the slightly more tongue-in-cheek Charon QC, jostle for position with bloggers like LawMinx and Android’s Reminiscences.

Kevan is currently working on the sequel to BabyBarista. On the strength of this first instalment of the story, I hope it will not be the last, as BabyBarista has certainly earned the right to stand there alongside Rumpole in the pantheon of legal fiction. Genuinely funny, BabyBarista deserves to become compulsory reading for prospective pupils and pupilmasters alike.


A diary entry from BabyBarista

Wednesday 8 August 2007 Day 217 (week 45): SuperSample
Today I made sure that I was in chambers tea in the conference room bang on time. Ready and waiting. Wondering if BusyBody would have taken the bait. What I’d counted on most was that as someone who aspires to authority, she has never been one to question what such authority might have to say. Well, come 4.30 p.m. there were about twenty members of chambers quietly sipping on their tea when there was an ominous knock at the door. Since barristers don’t knock and the clerks never interrupt tea, there was silence. HeadofChambers then boomed ‘enter’. At which point BusyBody opened the door holding her urine sample out in front of her. The silence continued and was eventually broken by BusyBody with a stuttering, ‘I ... I ... I  was just after the medical for tenancy. I think I have the wrong room.’

More silence, though you could see lots of pennnies dropping in lots of different heads. Eventually HeadofChambers said, ‘Er ... I think you might find, BusyBody, that someone has played a practical joke on you.’Already bright red and unsuccessfully trying to hide the urine sample under her documents, BusyBody whimpered, ‘Oh. Sorry. Sorry. So sorry.’ She then turned and scuttled as fast as was possible in the circumstances. After which the room broke down into fits of laughter. Poor BusyBody. Her sexual dilly-dallying had already caused her to be the butt of many jokes in chambers over the past few months. Not only did this make it worse, but it also meant that the list of potential culprits amounted to about a dozen members of chambers. Though it might also be one of the two trouble-making pupils, it was also whispered. Now who could this be, you ask? Why, TopFirst and ThirdSix, of course! So, with too many potential suspects it was generally agreed that the matter would be quietly dropped.

Thom Dyke is starting pupillage at Hardwicke Building in October

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