Tag Archives: Barrister

And just a leeetle bit sarcastic.

Responding to this.

‘Baby Barrister’ writes:

I’ll tell you all something for nothing (I’m charging for the next one though). I’m a trainee barrister – fresh off the back of the cart, only qualified in July. To date I owe my local credit union a cool €15,000 the cost of the King’s Inns tuition fees, including the entrance exams and a preparatory study course last summer. I owe my parents another circa €10,000 which covered my rent and living expenses for the year, as I’m unfortunate enough to hail from outside the Pale. My parents are not barristers, they are civil servants – they also had to borrow that €10,000 to fund me. Luckily enough I think I have a third cousin once removed from Timbuktu who knows a guy that is a solicitor. No doubt he’ll be sending me briefs the moment I complete my two years’ devilling.

Only speaking of devilling, that’s a pipe dream a few years down the line. Faced with the reality of being €25,000 in debt, and knowing I’d be doing well to make that amount back over the next 5 years combined, “going down” next year as we say in the legal profession (mind out of the gutter please!) was never a viable option. So I’m emigrating like my countless fellow university graduates – only over the pond admittedly, but it’s still no court room. I’m not looking for sympathy; I’m one of the lucky ones. I spent a great deal of this academic year applying for graduate positions and attending interviews, to the detriment of my studies, and I managed to secure a good job – it actually pays. It’s not what I really want to do, but hey, it’s a means to an end. I’ll work at it for 2, 5, 10 years, however long it takes me to pay off my loans and save enough money to ensure that when I finally come home I can support myself financially at the Bar for the first 5 years, and hopefully after that I’ll start to make a living. Hopefully.

You will say I am the exception, but in fact if you stop pointing the finger for just a moment and open your eyes you will find I am the ever increasing norm. I made many friends in the Kings Inns this year and yes, some of them come from very privileged backgrounds, but a significant proportion are at home right now, working hard at summer jobs to make money for the long years to come. Or like me they are preparing to emigrate or take work in another field that will pay the bills. More still have already worked in other areas for anything up to 10 years after college, and now aged 30 plus, can finally afford to put themselves through the King’s Inns and their first few years at the Bar.

This 25% cut – it will not hurt those relatively few at the top that you think represents the majority. It will hurt the little guys and the newbies, those of us whom you tarnish with the same brush and who are struggling to make a living as a barrister already, or struggling to make a living as something else right now in the hopes that they can one day afford to struggle to make a living as a barrister.

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me, or for any of us – we joined this profession with eyes wide open, we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. I stand by all my decisions, and I can’t wait to wear my gown with pride in a few years’ time’ when I can afford that privilege– yes there is a certain amount of prestige associated with the profession, and why shouldn’t there be – for most it’s a long hard slog to get there, and whether you like it or not it’s a longer, harder slog than many other occupations. Even during the Celtic Tiger junior barristers faced the same difficulties they do now – all the excess of work and money was being hoovered up by the big wigs at the top, so no matter when you joined the ranks, everyone went through the same gruelling early years.

What I am asking you do is THINK. Before you stone us all to death with your ignorance, consider that cutting a man on the bread line’s wage by 25%, more likely than not pushes him over the edge. What you are left with then is your beloved stereotype, taking all the winnings, even if only at 75%. I can’t afford the 25% cut, and either can the rest of the country. If you think it’s a closed profession now, see what happens if this comes to pass.

(Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland)