William Byfield’s Secret E-Diary

30 April 2009: DIARY ATTACHMENT SUPPLEMENT/SALUTARY LESSONS/When deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake (Book of Job).

From: Senior clerk
To: Head of chambers
Subject: FW
Justin Moore sent this to a friend and accidentally pressed the Mailshot option. It went round chambers. Unfortunately, Ronnie published it on our website in the Gutter Press section. He thought it was an article. I have had an enquiry from the Bar Standards Board. Are you still in Nice or back in Blighty? I am happy to say the BarMark Business Plan is nearly completed.

Gutteridge Chambers accepts no responsibility for any loss or breach of confidentiality/legal professional privilege unless the same is found proven by a Court of Law in England & Wales after due process including all available appeals.

From: Justin Moore
To: Alex Wilson
Subject: Private & Confidential
Hi Alex,
How are hedge funds? I’ve heard you guys are all going about in disguise now. Still, great news you got your bonus this year. You probably heard I got “taken on” at Gutteridge Chambers (apparently Justice Chambers caused too much laughter for the committee to vote on).

The tenancy thing was weird. We had to prepare a mitigation (telling the court why a career crim shouldn’t get his just deserts). It was all a bit mad as a week before there was this new directive about sentences—go straight to prison, do not pass “go”, do not collect £200. None of the tenants interviewing me had ever heard of this guideline. They were impressed when Alice (All Hallows Comprehensive, but her Dad’s a doc and they live in a very good catchment area) told them about it. I was number four—they’d got bored by then.
The scene: there were two empty bottles of champagne and a few New World reds—I think they caught me staring at the labels—and the remains of a Pret a Manger sarnie platter. We got thru the exercise pretty quickly and then onto the usual crap about why do you want to be a criminal barrister. Er...cos I want to earn a tenth of my civil colleagues. Love getting the right side of a juvenile from Bow…eating dinners in a “mediaeval” hall…travelling the length and breadth of Britain at a loss…being sacked if I don’t suck up to a rather dodgy individual (the solicitor).

Only kidding!? In fact, I have got the barrister bug. I always needed an adrenalin rush to get me moving. There’s nothing like facing a new client and a difficult judge to get the internal “Red Bull” working. Had a party in Brixton yesterday—I know, but I’ve got 30 years to straighten out—when Ronnie, the junior clerk and named after snooker’s finest, dumps some short trial at the Mags on my desk—the one I share with eight people. Got to bed at 2am (no, I skipped the party), arrived 15 minutes late at Waltham Forest Magistrates to find my client had beetled off in my absence to do something more interesting. I’m told this is really serious.

Back to the tenancy application. Results promised in three days, so the pupils all went to the Cheshire Cheese for a few jars. “All for one; and one for all!” That broke down fairly rapidly when one of the committee passed by and, after liquid encouragement, let the cat out of the bag—talk about keeping confidences. Anyway, we kept straight faces two days later when our esteemed head of chambers broke the news before heading for the Riviera. Comp Alice and I got taken on…Amrik took it on the chin, but he’d just got a much better offer from the Customs or whatever they call it now (paid holidays, pension —you know, Alex). Peter Willis vanished for a week and Jane Widgery (no relation—doesn’t mind if you think she is) let rip at poor Bruce, her pupil supervisor. Better than East Enders and Coronation St rolled into one. Ended up as Casualty sadly. She fell off the pavement at this stage and ended up in A&E.

One of the senior tenants—had scarcely come across him so far—slapped me on the back and said: “Now you get to make our world relevant in 2009, without losing its nutty charm and the centuries of oral tradition and ethical values.” Was quite pleased with my response: “Thinking what it might all look to an outsider would help,” but he moved swiftly on for some reason. You “b”ankers went for the modern approach, didn’t you...? C u soon.
Justin xx

PS Hopes this gets thru. We have to use some super-secure email system because of the sensitivity of our work.

William Byfield is the psuedonym of a senior member of the Bar. Gutteridge Chambers, and the events that happen there, are entirely fictitious.