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Assertiveness

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BusyBody was in chambers the other day. “I’ve been taking advocacy lessons BabyB. It’s great, you’ve got to try it. He’s been teaching me to be more assertive.”

Hmm, that’s like teaching Hannibal Lecter to cook. But it kind of reassured me that if he can make money out of that then really you can make money out of anything, even blagging being a half decent advocate. BusyBody then asserted herself further: “Yes, it’s definitely working BabyB. You’ve got to stand up to the judge. Tell him what you think. You know, they can smell weakness BabyB so you’ve got to be in there and answering back before they get a chance to pin you down. Try it in your next case and see how it goes.”

So, I went off to court in Reading yesterday and thought I’d put BusyBody’s recent advice to me on assertiveness to the test.  “Mr BabyBarista. I’ve had a look at the papers and am struggling to understand your case,” said the judge

“Well, Sir, that may indeed be so.”
“Yes, Mr BabyBarista, it is so. Would you like to enlighten me as to what you intend to argue.”
“All in good time, Sir, all in good time.”
“No, Mr BabyBarista, you will do so now or not at all.”
“No I won’t.”
“Yes you will.”
“No I won’t.”
“Mr BabyBarista. Despite all appearances this is not a pantomime. Either you will tell me your case now or I will strike it out and commit you for contempt.”

Which brought to an abrupt end my career in assertiveness. “Er, yes, Sir. Of course, Sir,’ I said, my voice slightly raised and I am ashamed to say, my cheeks feeling flushed. I had started to sound like the Kevin and Perry sketch where they speak to the other’s parents and suddenly put their best goody goody voice on, despite themselves. My opponent looked particularly smug as I backed down and I just hope he doesn’t send sniping remarks back to chambers.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan. You can buy the latest BabyBarista novel, 'Law and Peace' on Amazon. The cartoons are by Alex Williams, author of The Queen's Counsel Lawyer's Omnibus.

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