English barristers trained to be less pompous in bid to win over

first_imgEnglish barristers are being trained to come across as less pompous in social situations in a bid to win over wealthy international clients.Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, has held training sessions teaching members how to “work a room” and to listen in conversation rather than impressing others with their intelligence.The tuition is intended to help the historic profession appear “up-to-date, modern and vibrant” to clients who can take their business anywhere in the world.The initiative is part of a wider embrace of corporate thinking which encourages barristers, who are mainly self-employed, to describe themselves as “legal entrepreneurs”.The move would likely prompt Rumpole to reach irritably for the Chateau Thames Embankment.Nevertheless, in a session this week, participants were taught to view themselves in the same bracket as Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, the inventor of Facebook.“How to” trainers from the business world also talked about “winning business” and how to “increase market share”. Adrienne Page QC, a Middle Temple bencher who helped organise the training, said barristers were traditionally thought to be “aloof and pompous” at drinks parties and networking events, which are now increasingly crucial for securing work.“The advice emphasised the value of listening, creating relationships by asking people questions about themselves and their work; finding common ground,” she told The Sunday Telegraph.“What is it that makes a client come back to a barrister time and again – is it just that they win the cases?“Not necessarily.“It’s also about the barrister’s ability to relate to the client, to have that friendly conversation outside court.”London is a popular venue for international legal disputes, with 70 per cent of cases in 2016 in the Commercial and Admiralty Courts – where complex business and maritime cases are heard – involving at least one party based outside England and Wales.The English courts are also favoured by the rich and famous seeking to get divorced.It is a competitive international market, however, and some at the bar fear Brexit may damage their earnings.“We argue that barristers need to move away from describing themselves as self-employed, to instead labelling themselves “legal entrepreneurs” and behaving as an entrepreneur would”, said an advertisement for the Middle Temple session.Moderated by the barrister turned comedian Clive Anderson, the coaching was led international corporate trainer Gavin Presman and Chrissie Lightrood, an “entrepreneur, legal futurist”.Barristers were taught “why awkward silences can help you to win business”, as well as “how body language and tone of voice can aid, but also hiner you”.Ms Page said: “Big corporate solicitors have the resources to provide training and development in soft skills.“For the Bar, Middle Temple’s Survive and Thrive series fulfils that role for barristers, many of them in small sets of chambers.”She added: “The Bar is definitely changing. There was a time when we weren’t allowed to have business cards and weren’t allowed to entertain solicitors.”Beyond professional development, the Inns of Court, which also comprise Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn, are most commonly associated with formal dining.Student barristers have traditionally been required to complete 12 qualifying dinners before being called to the Bar.Last October, however, the Bar Standards Board raised the prospect of scrapping the sessions because they might put off students from less well-off backgrounds from entering the profession. The Bar is definitely changing. There was a time when we weren’t allowed to have business cardscenter_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img

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