Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Article at The Radcliffe Club - Law for Non Law

Heads-up for an article I wrote a while back and which has now been posted up at The Radcliffe Club - Law for Non Law. It covers in particular my second novel Law and Peace. Please note that the mass market edition of this book is now available at amazon. You can read the text of the article either here or below.

Writer Tim Kevan tells us about his second BabyBarista novel ‘Law and Peace’

Back in 2007 I had been practising as a barrister at what is now Temple Garden Chambers for some nine years and was enjoying the life of aLondon common law barrister. But I’d always dreamt of living by the sea and the surf and maybe even writing a novel. I just couldn’t quite see how it could be done. At that time I’d just finished co-writing a motivational book entitled Why Lawyers Should Surf with Dr Michelle Tempest, a book which encouraged people to look for inspiration outside of law and used surfing and the power of the ocean as metaphors for living the day to day. Next I wanted to sit down and write a legal thriller. But instead what popped out was a legal comedy about a fictional young barrister doing pupillage. I called him BabyBarista which was a play on words based on his first impression being that his coffee-making skills were probably as important to that year as any forensic legal abilities he may have. It’s a strange thing to say but I discovered that this bold, irreverent and mischievous voice along with a collection of colourful characters had simply jumped into my head and the words started pouring onto the page.

Since then I was lucky enough to get the first book Law and Disorder published by Harry Potter’s publisher Bloomsbury in 2009. It followed BabyBarista’s first year in chambers where he was fighting his fellow pupils for the coveted prize of a permanent tenancy. It was a fictional caricature of life at the Bar and included characters that probably exist in most workplaces such as UpTights, OldRuin, BusyBody, Worrier and even JudgeJewellery and her penchant for stealing cheap jewellery.  Alongside the pupillage race was an altogether different battle with BabyB’s corrupt pupilmaster TheBoss whose dishonest fiddling of chambers’ records to avoid a negligence action all started to unravel and threatened to embroil BabyB’s entire career.
Thankfully, the book seemed to be well-received with The Times calling it “a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones’s Diary”. It also continues to be published as a blog, having been picked up early on by The Times and more recently by The Guardian. All of which helped to lead Bloombury to commission book two in the series. This came as more of a challenge than the first given that I couldn’t simply use the stresses and strains of pupillage to drive the plot along and instead had to look to other themes and stories. In the end, I did just what I’d done in book one and let the characters loose to tell their own stories. What eventually came out was Law and Peace which was published by Bloomsbury this May and which thankfully has garnered some decent reviews with The Daily Mail describing it as “highly recommended” and a “funny, sharp account of backstabbing Bar life” and broadcaster Jeremy Vine calling it “a novel bursting with invention”.

The new book follows BabyBarista’s second year in chambers in which as the newest tenant in chambers, he must face down old enemies, try to win compensation for a group of ASBO-attracting pensioners and unravel the complicated knots of his love life – not to mention his mother’s finances. Under the wise and watchful eye of OldRuin, he tries to keep his nose (and his wig) clean, but when SlipperySlope, an unscrupulous solicitor offers him a quick way out of his financial difficulties he soon becomes embroiled in blackmail, dodgy share-dealing and the dark arts of litigation. With his old adversary TopFirst out for revenge and the chance to be awarded a coveted ‘red bag’ at stake, BabyB has to use all the tricks of his trade to extricate himself from his legal quagmire, win the case for his mad old clients, and somehow convince his best friend to fall in love with him.

One of the themes which comes out of the book is BabyBarista’s preoccupation with work and his failing to give enough time to his friends, family and other things which make him happy. In the end, it’s the example of others who show him the way with the old people taking him skateboarding and a friend of theirs introducing him to surfing as well as OldRuin, Claire and his mother emphasising the importance of love and friendship. It’s something which I’ve had time to reflect on myself having spent ten years at the Bar in London before taking what has become a prolonged break to move down to the sea in North Devon and write the BabyBarista books as well as publishing free legal email newsletters written by barristers (see eg 
www.lawbriefupdate.com/  and www.pibriefupdate.com).

This has allowed me to return to the much simpler country way of life that I had known as a child with time to get out into the surf and the countryside as well as to settle into the local community. I guess the thing about legal life is that it doesn’t necessarily need to end up being over-worked and stressful. But in a profession that bills itself out by the hour, there’s an inherent risk of it producing a tendency to commoditise what might be our most precious possession, that of time itself. But as BabyBarista discovers, it certainly doesn’t have to be like that and during the course of the book he slowly starts to return to the things that really matter.

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