A working knowledge of the law is an advantage, if not a need, in most businesses today. In such a litigious society and the relative freedom that the Internet has, one could be breaking the law without realising it. Without having the police knocking on your door, having a good barrister is essential in the world of business for legal counsel, advice, and business networking within its relatively tight-knit community.
In UK business networking, barristers need to interact with each other more often in order to gain more clients, and in turn, bolster their reputation within the community. Prosecutors and experts in presenting evidence, barristers are renowned in society for their expertise.
Lawyer, Solicitor, Barrister – Which is which?
In America and other parts of the world, the work of a barrister is usually done by an attorney-at-law. This means overall law practice, from litigation to drawing up contracts to offering legal counsel to private and public firms. The word attorney refers to someone who is appointed, separating it from the often interchangeable term “lawyer”. What Americans usually refer to as an “attorney-at-law” is equivalent to that of the British barrister.
Often, when people refer to “lawyer” is actually a solicitor. A barrister works mainly in higher forms of the court, mainly scholarly works and advocacy. They are most often seen wearing the wig-and-rob attire of the court, apart from solicitors who work in public offices and whose attire is mostly indistinguishable from corporate executives.
Solicitors usually draw up the legal paperwork needed, whilst legal counsel is often the bread-and-butter of barristers. This is why barristers so often influence public policy, as they are tasked with reviewing information and presenting it in terms that can be decided up in court.
This confusion between roles is often repeated in this country, as both barristers and solicitors receive similar educations. However, they have separate licensing tests, though in some cases a person can be both a solicitor and a barrister.
Their role in society
Like most law practices, barristers depend on client referrals and reputation in order to foster in their respective profession. Often, solicitors and barristers work hand in hand in order to maintain certain aspects of the law. For example a barrister may appeal in court to benefit a solicitor’s client, and solicitors can refer barristers to them in cases where they are being prosecuted, or anything to do with appearing in court.
Those with the education of a barrister are often seen as harbouring elements of nepotism or elitism, as it takes extensive legal training to even qualify. In such a situation, it would do best to create connections as early as being in school.
This places a great deal of pressure on barristers as they shape public policy. Even the most astute barristers have different interpretations of the law, which are often present in oral arguments. Because of this, their expertise cannot be denied and is often valued.
Without networking skills, however, it would be very difficult for barristers to practice their professions. As solicitors offer more contact with the public, client referrals between fellow barristers and solicitors are vital.
Building your professional reputation is key. Whether you specialise in business law, intellectual property law, or political law, each facet of life as a barrister becomes useful in terms of becoming active in your local network or bar organisation. As they are considered jurists – legal scholars in every sense – their level of study is often seen to be bookish.
The relative lack of dealing with clients makes networking difficult. Often, new barristers start with researching and presenting evidence, with the argumentative and moot court aspects of the law left to more experienced jurists. This is where you must start to impress – researching cases that could help benefit a particular argument or offering a different take in an interpretation of evidence could potentially gain you traction professionally.
In social gatherings, make an effort to talk more about life outside of the legal world. Say that you are interacting with someone who has an affinity for golf, a sport that you practice regularly. Finding common interests outside of your profession can lead to friendlier and more open channels of communication.
From here, you can start building your reputation towards fellow law practitioners. As solicitors often cannot argue in court, they are referred barristers through other, more experienced seniors. Offer to do some cases pro bono if it is a particularly interesting or significant case in the community you live in. The benefits of doing so will be well worth its weight in gold.
Unlike in other professions, the study of law is best done when you are in your home country. If you reside in Dublin but plan to practice law in Cardiff, it would probably best to rethink your educational opportunities. Legal education is often focused on legislation done in their community. It would make no sense to study the Magna Carta in depth when you are not British, or do not plan to practice law within the United Kingdom.
International law, however, can be a specialisation. Do pro bono work for grassroots councils like the United Nations or Oxfam may spark a love for human rights encounters. A very public face of a barrister who specialises in international affairs is Amal Clooney, wife of American actor George Clooney.
The rules of business networking as a barrister are easier said than done; getting into top-flight schools and getting high marks is often a way to get to the top of your profession, and making business networking possible. There is a certain amount of investment made in becoming a barrister – or indeed, any legal education of any kind – and not being able to network your capabilities will be a waste.
Learn networking for your business or private practice in order to widen the scope of your chosen profession. Debate and argumentation will come in handy for this, and it will be well worth it.
Networking Skills for Barristers, Kintish.co.uk
Networking: Tips for Success, Law Careers
Here are some related articles which you may find useful:
• Engage on Business Networking Events To Make Your Business Known
• Networking Events Can Be a Great Help for Budding Magicians in London
• Talk Now, Sell Later: Raising Cred in Networking Events in London