Wednesday, August 26, 2009

BabyBarista reviewed in Counsel Magazine (click to enlarge)

Nice review of BabyBarista and the Art of War from Thom Dyke in Counsel Magazine which you can either read below or by clicking on the image on the left.

John Mortimer once described the process of undertaking pupillage as one of life's "splendid miseries". In BabyBarista and The Art of War, Tim Kevan provides a startling portrait of the year-long quest for tenancy by his eponymous hero, BabyBarista. Describing the gruelling year of pupillage as "a sort of upper-class reality show in microcosm", the book chronicles the progress of BabyBarista, who engages in all manner of brief-swapping and bed-hopping schemes in the hope of securing his prize.

BabyBarista began life as a blog written by Tim Kevan who was taking time out from his practise at 1 Temple Gardens. It quickly became a hit and was picked up by The Times, who offered to host the blog, expanding its audience out of the niche world of the legal blogosphere and into the mainstream. Whilst it was originally written anonymously, Kevan chose to "out" himself as the blog's author earlier this year, after much speculation as to who was behind the BabyBarista mask.

Written in a lively and engaging style, BabyBarista has more than enough laughs to keep the reader on the right side of the dubious ethical path plotted by the central protagonist as he takes on his fellow pupils, TopFirst, BusyBody, Worrier and ThirdSix. Taking Sun Tzu's Art of War as his guide, BabyBarista weaves an increasingly tangled web as the year unfolds, as he attempts to keep on the right side of his pupilmaster, instructing solicitor and the Bar Standards Board. But Kevan also tackles the more thorny questions of professional misconduct and the financial hardship suffered by many members of the junior Bar.

Whilst Kevan may not present life at the Bar in the rosiest light, he clearly has a genuine affection for the profession. Characters such as OldRuin (described as Dumbledore meets Clarence, the angel from It's A Wonderful Life) and TheBusker are drawn with real warmth and understanding. BabyBarista is part of a long-standing tradition of legal fiction, and it is inevitable that comparisons will be drawn with Rumpole and the hugely overrated Henry Cecil.

But it is the world of the blog to which BabyBarista owes the most. One suspects that BabyBarista would be as much at home in the backstabbing, corporate world of Jeremy Blachman's Anonymous Lawyer as he is in the Inns of Court. The very nature of a blog as an "online confessional", lends itself well to the often isolated world of the legal profession. This popularity is reflected in the lively mix of legal bloggers, where Simon Myerson QC's Pupillage and How to Get It, and th slightly more tongue-in-cheek Charon QC, jostle for position with bloggers like Law Minx and Android's Reminiscences.

Kevan is currently working on the sequel to BabyBarista. On the strength of this first instalment of the story, I hope it will not be the last as BabyBarista has certainly earned the right to stand alongside Rumpole in the pantheon of legal fiction. Genuinely funny, BabyBarista deserves to become compulsory reading for prospective pupils and pupilmasters alike.

Thom Dyke is starting pupillage at Hardwicke Building in October.

1 comment:

Law Minx said...

Tim - the next John Mortimer! High praise indeed - and to my mind, absolutely spot on!