Tim Grey

When I first discussed the idea of sitting on tribunals and committees hearing disciplinary and regulatory cases with my colleagues at the Bar, the majority view was that getting involved in making applications and undertaking the roles was going to be time consuming and, ultimately, the roles themselves would be uninspiring and boring.

I’m pleased to say those colleagues were wrong. On the contrary, I learn a huge amount from every case and every committee I sit on, whether that’s from professional colleagues, lay colleagues, advocates, or the regulators themselves. These are definitely not roles for those who don’t like to learn.

That’s not to say the process of being appointed is easy. The first challenge is finding out which organisations are recruiting. Some organisations use LinkedIn, some use online recruitment sites, some use newspapers and some only publicise vacancies on their own websites. I found the important thing was to keep a regular eye on all those places. I would diarise 20 minutes every month checking the various sites for anything new.

Finding the vacancies is the first part. The application is the second; and you can’t trot out the same old stuff each time. Each recruitment process is different. Most will require you to complete an application form, and some will require a CV. Most will also require a covering letter setting out your experience and what makes you want to act for that particular regulator and in that particular capacity.

Industry knowledge is always helpful but in-depth knowledge is not essential. I found that researching a regulator swiftly brought me to a resolution about whether I should be applying or not. If I found the sector or industry unengaging or impenetrably complicated, that was a clue I might not be right for the role.

What is really important is to understand the nature of the profession or industry being regulated in general terms, as well as the various pressures the regulator is under. It’s all too obvious to assume that the pressure is on resources, but there are other pressures too, often from the membership of the profession involved, and sometimes from within the organisation itself. In some non-statutory regulators, retention of members is all important. There can be a natural tension between that commercial aspect and the role of the fitness to practise or professional conduct team in overseeing a process, the ultimate end of which could be the removal of the member in question.

As with most things tenacity pays off. I had to make, and still continue to make, numerous unsuccessful applications. In the meantime I kept growing my experience and the right roles did come along.

The roles I undertake are extremely rewarding and informative. The opportunity to work with non-lawyers and other industry professionals is really important and one that lawyers often don’t get. It provides me with a real sense of perspective from outside the profession of how the world works, and it’s one that I otherwise wouldn’t have.

It also lifts the veil and answers the questions that most advocates spend a lifetime pondering: What does go on in the deliberation room? What submissions do have a material impact? What don’t? How does the nature and style of advocacy affect the decision-making process? All these questions are answered and so much more. My hope is it makes me a better advocate. But even if it doesn’t achieve that lofty aim, at the very least it enables me to learn from those outside our profession and understand how other professional worlds operate.

Catherine Moxon

I first heard about regulatory roles at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) and the British Psychoanalytic Council from my Head Regulatory Clerk in Chambers.

The MPTS role – Legally Qualified Chair and Legal Assessor – was the most competitive. The process required an application, written assessment, oral presentation and an interview.

I spent a significant amount of time preparing for the MPTS competency-based interview. Undertaking mock interviews made the biggest difference. I asked four people to help me. In between I tried to address their feedback. I spent time breaking down the competencies into questions and collating as many examples as I could of my regulatory work and chairing experience. I recorded myself giving interview answers then tried to enhance the answers for clarity, concision and depth. Speaking my answers aloud helped me to weed out my weaker examples and hone my interview skills.

I was appointed to each of my regulatory roles on the first attempt. That is not to say I have only made successful applications. My route had been to identify the competences in the roles I wanted, then look for experience to fill any gaps. I kept a record of noteworthy cases which had the dual advantage of providing me with a bank of examples when it came to future applications and also allowing me to reflect on gaps in my experience. At first, I did this in a notebook, later on my phone. As I made more applications, the forms themselves would provide a useful aide memoir.

I realised that it was difficult to stand out using my experience as a barrister alone. I tried to build up additional experiences alongside court work. In 2015 I started volunteering, often in the evenings or weekends, to be on various panels, including chairing a children’s safeguarding group and being a school governor. I have worked in various roles for the Bar Standards Board since 2014 including as an External Examiner and more recently a standard setter for the Bar School exams. Since 2017, I have been a visiting lecturer teaching court procedure, advocacy and litigation at postgraduate and practitioner levels. Some of my former university students are now colleagues in chambers. Recently helping one of them with their preparations for their first regulatory hearing was a moment of professional pride.

My regulatory roles have significantly enhanced my working life. Chairing the school admissions appeals gave me the confidence to pursue regulatory work; it allowed me to gain experience of chairing adversarial proceedings and working with others. The skills and experience allowed me to apply for my panel positions with better quality examples of how I could meet the competencies for recruitment. My most recent appointment, with the MPTS, has been the most fundamental change, in part due to the nature of the work and in part due to the volume of work available.

Gaining regulatory experience has allowed me to focus my career. My chambers and clerks have been incredibly supportive while I have been building up my experiences outside of chambers, such as teaching and now sitting. When I first started taking up regulatory opportunities, many were unpaid, others were inconvenient due to geography or having to turn down other work to fit them in and at first opportunities were infrequent. I am now in a position in which I can balance sitting and the Bar, moving towards an exclusive focus on a regulatory practice.