What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am the Senior Clerk at 37 Park Square Chambers, Leeds. Key responsibilities include the day-to-day management, administration and visibility of chambers. We have one of the largest teams of family barristers on the North-Eastern circuit and are often the chambers of choice for Public Law matters throughout the Humberside region.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I have been a barristers' clerk for the past 20 years; the last 5 of which have been as Senior Clerk with No. 37. I got into clerking by accident: I was working for a firm of solicitors while studying for a law degree and had applied for a mini-pupillage, and ended up being offered a clerk's job. 12 months later the chambers that I was working at in Stoke-on-Trent made me their Senior Clerk at the age of 21! Since then I've never looked back.
What are the people you work with/for like? Any memorable stories?
A large part of the charm of working in chambers is the differing, eclectic mix of individuals that you look after. Over the years I've had a hand in the practices and careers of nearly 20 barristers; several of whom have been appointed Queen's Counsel to the Circuit Bench, High Court Bench, and a Lord Justice of the Appeal Court. Working with such a blend of so many of life's colourful characters makes every day interesting!
Insofar as memorable stories are concerned, there are too many to mention, and are being saved for my memoirs - subject to a super-injunction!
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
The best part of the day is the end of the day when seeing that all of your charges are gainfully employed for the following day. The worst is when they're not!
Honest, dependable and loyal. Although others may disagree!
What keeps you motivated?
Knowing the people you work with are making a difference to others' lives, whether it is in family work, crime or civil.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee by IV!
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
The opportunities to get into clerking can seem few and far between, but stick with it as it is definitely still one of the best jobs in the world - even though the days of being paid a straight percentage are gone!
What song do you listen to the most?
I listen to lots of music, and depending on my mood it can be anything from Damien Rice, Gomez, Alabama Shakes and Turin Brakes right through to Billy Ocean!
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
Outside of work I attend the gym regularly, play golf, and coach my son's U12's rugby team. Also dining out with my girlfriend is an all-too-frequent pleasure.
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
The re-introduction of public funding in Private Law proceedings would be a start. Call me cynical, but the recent massive increase in domestic violence (DV) allegations coincides with the introduction of LASPO. LASPO removed public funding for private law proceedings unless there was DV or, at the very least, allegations of DV which must be reported to police. There can be no coincidence that the police are now overwhelmed with reports of DV since LASPO. You can follow 37 Park Square Chambers on Twitter at @37ParkSq.
Be sure to read our Clerklife column for more insights into the curious and compelling world of being a barristers' clerk.