A Helping Hand

William Hughes and Bobbie Cheema outline the raison d’être of the Kalisher Scholarship Foundation

Cuts to the legal aid budget preceded the global banking crisis and the age of austerity, and over the past ten years the number of pupillages has nosedived, from 695 in 2000 to 450 in 2010/11. Given the increasing difficulty in securing a publicly-funded pupillage the Kalisher trustees, together with professional training outfit Jo Ouston and Co, recently ran the first Kalisher presentation skills course.


It taught aspiring barristers to maximise their impact. The first course included two pupils and eight Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) students, and, thanks to the course, they will move toward pupilage and tenancy with greater confidence and a better chance of making a good impression. All our trainees’ backgrounds or financial situation meant they needed the boost from intensive tuition at a pivotal moment in their career.


Skills development

The course consisted of more than 15 hours of intensive training. It allowed the trainees to explore in detail day-to-day challenges which face the criminal barrister and learn how to gain the assured persona which gives confidence to the client, judge and interview panel. The course ranged from the softer skills, such as voice projection and body language and its impact on status, to the more technical. By the end students were conducting their own cross-examination under the watchful eye of Jo’s trainers and Kalisher trustees.

It ran on successive Wednesdays throughout May in Gray’s Inn’s training suite, and ended with a day-long practical workshop (the action clinic) at the Old Bailey. This targeted approach allowed a day of experimentation and rehearsal in our flagship criminal court. Everyone agreed the opportunity to replicate some of the reality of a barrister’s working life was enormously helpful. The improvement in personal presentation and, most importantly, advocacy, was breathtaking.

All the trustees who took part in the course (including the authors) cannot understate the benefit to our own advocacy merely from witnessing the teaching at first hand. As one of us somewhat ruefully remarked: “I wish I’d had this 20 years ago.” The input of professionals from another field was a revelation and Jo Ousten’s team were able to give practical help drawn from a wide experience of training leaders in industry and the arts on how to present, relate and express to a very accomplished standard. The cynical among us may ask, “What do we, as barristers, need more training for?” The answer is: come and see – you’ll be surprised.

Kevin Gordon, a part-time student at the College of Law, commented: “The Kalisher presentation course has been instrumental in helping me become more aware of my impact and presence. It has given me the skills and tools to enhance my communication…Most importantly, I now have gravitas.”

The next course is scheduled to run in the autumn. If you would like more information or are interested in taking part, please contact Camilla Barker on 07852290878 or look at our website, at www.thekalishertrust.org.

William Hughes is treasurer and trustee of the Kalisher Scholarship Trust, practicing Criminal Law from 9-12 Bell Yard.
Bobbie Cheema is a trustee of the Kalisher  Scholarship Trust practicing from 2, Hare Court.



Martin Shaw Kalisher Lecture

The 2012 CBA Kalisher Lecture will be given by Martin Shaw, Kalisher trustee and Bencher of Gray’s Inn, on Tuesday 16 October at the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields.His title will be “Experience is by industry achieved”.

Actress Maxine Peake, star of the TV drama, Silk, will present prizes to the winners of the Kalisher and Cloth Fair Scholarships and to the winner of the Kalisher Essay Prize.

Ticket details will be announced shortly.

Since the Kalisher Scholarship Foundation was set up in 1996, the trustees have constantly looked for new ways to help students who are either on the BPTC or who wish to do it. The trust’s mission is to help talented students from socially and ethnically diverse backgrounds reach the criminal Bar when, without our support, they would be overwhelmed by the financial demands of getting there. The trust’s remit includes the award of the annual Kalisher Scholarship and the Cloth Fair Scholarship – both of which fund students through their vocational qualification – and the annual essay competition for pupils, with a first prize of £5,000.

Category: 
Tags: